By Lyman Stone
One detail about the recent terrorist attack in New York City has many readers scratching their heads: the perpetrator, named Sayfullo Saipov, was… Uzbek? From Uzbekistan? Is that even a country? After a bit of confused googling, a reader may find that, yes, Uzbekistan is a real, landlocked country in the heart of the Eurasian steppe, a former Soviet country now ruled by an authoritarian government. Oh, and yes, it’s a primarily Muslim country, although the government enforces a quite moderate version of Islam.
Given that a vanishingly small portion of Americans know anything about Uzbekistan, and that the country rarely appears in our news, most Americans will only remember Uzbeks if they were in the news for something bad in the past. Lo and behold, a number of commentators have perceptively noted that a strangely large number of people from Uzbekistan have been charged with terrorism-related offenses against the United States.
Oh, and, while there are no official figures for Uzbekistan, experts believe a substantial number of Uzbeks have joined ISIS, and its neighboring Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyz Republic all have elevated levels of ISIS recruitment. Indeed, many ISIS members from Kyrgyzstan may actually be ethnically Uzbek.
Given …read more