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Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Islamic Liberation) is undergoing a dramatic increase in activity both worldwide and locally.
Founded in Jerusalem 54 years ago, the Sunni pan-Islamic Party seeks to establish a Middle Eastern Caliphate to promote further expansion of Islam.
Active in 40 countries from Asia to the US, Hizb ut-Tahrir urges its membership to "kill Jews wherever you find them." One of Hizb ut-Tahrir's most active cells is stationed the United Kingdom, where a proposal is currently on the table to ban the organization.
The party is not only fervently anti-Zionist, but it also endorses the murder of any other "Infidel" in its path.
Earlier this month, German police arrested three men on suspicion of plotting to bomb military and civilian airports, restaurants, and nightclubs-two of which were Uzbek members of a Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter cell.
This splinter cell, the Islamic Jihad Union, was unknown until spring of 2004 after bomb attacks in the Uzbek cities of Tashkent and Bukhara that left 47 people dead. In July 2004, this same cell bombed the US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent.
Uzbek authorities and secret services claim that Hizb ut-Tahrir's cells in the region have recently received a boost in activity and members.
Uzbekistan was always the most preferable spot for Hizb ut-Tahrir's "activists", as the local population has proven highly receptive to militant Islamist ideology. After the collapse of the USSR in the mid-1990s, fundamentalist preachers of Hizb ut-Tahrir managed to recruit strong support in Uzbekistan, winning over a restless people under by a weak government.
Uzbekistan became Hizb ut-Tahrir's stronghold in the region. Its current instability renders it even more attractive to Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose activity is becoming increasingly aggressive.
The murder of Mark Weil, director of Tashkent's independent Ilkhom Theatre and one of the most prominent Jewish artists of Uzbekistan, explains the recent blacklisting of Uzbekistan by Israeli LOTAR experts as a country of potential danger to Israeli tourists.
For Hizb ut-Tahrir, Uzbekistan functions as a gateway to expansion into the adjacent, more stable Muslim countries.
Kyrgyz security services arrested at the beginning of September several municipal officials along the Uzbek border after who accepted bribed to forge identification documents for members of Hizb ut-Tahrir to illegally enter the country.
Kazakh secret police also report a sudden upsurge of Hizb ut-Tahrir's activity, as Kazakhstan is one of the ideal targets for the movement.
Several years ago the KNB (National Security Service of Kazakhstan) almost succeeded in uprooting Hizb ut-Tahrir in the country. Today the fundamentalists are trying to even the score by destabilizing this powerful regional player, a major gas, and oil and uranium supplier to the world.
According to the KNB, several newly formed fundamentalist cells were disrupted last month with members originating in Uzbekistan, Russia and Chechnya. Police found leaflets and CDs during the raids that followed-the cells were working to recruit young Muslims for international action.
The detained fundamentalists were also planning violent acts against banks and prominent businessmen in Kazakhstan. Proceeds from their armed robberies were to be transferred to militant groups in various international hotspots, including Afghanistan and Palestinian territories.
The confiscated propaganda included video clips, which had been previously published on YouTube. The clips depict Muslims being attacked by Western forces and ask "for how much longer?" Produced by the Hizb ut-Tahrir's Malaysian branch, the clips call on Muslims to "arise and shake off the dust" of European colonialism and show members marching in support of Palestinians to the commentary "Oh armies of the Muslim world, we await your help."
Palestinians are thought to be receiving funding from the flourishing Hizb ut-Tahrir branches worldwide. They are taking over Hamas estates on the West Bank.
After taking control of Sair village, north of Hebron, Hizb ut-Tahrir accounted for close to 400 followers. On August 11 10,000 supporters marched through Ramallah, Fatah's stronghold, calling for the creation of a Caliphate.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir's rise symbolizes the fall of Hamas' brand of political Islam and Fatah's nationalist ideology," claims Palestinian analyst Hani Al-Masri. "Palestinian despair is Hizb ut-Tahrir's tool".
Hizb ut Tahrir has no military wing in the Palestinian Authority yet.
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