In the past two years, Central Asians have been involved in terrorist attacks in Istanbul, New York, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm. While we have seen more attacks by Central Asians outside the region than within it, in August four tourists were killed in an Islamic State-inspired attack in southern Tajikistan. This was the first attack credibly linked to IS in the region. Some have been quick to label Central Asia as a growing “hotbed” of Islamic extremism and exporter of terrorism. Returning fighters from Syria and Iraq, spillovers from Afghanistan and “homegrown” terrorists are all framed as threats to the region. Yet assessing the threat remains difficult in no small part due to the way the governments of the region manipulate it to consolidate their power. Through an examination of the available evidence and ongoing fieldwork since 2014, Edward Lemon discussed the threat posed by terrorism in the region and from beyond the region, in Russia, Turkey, Europe and the US during a special event on September 27, 2018, hosted by the Central Asia Program.
Dr. Edward Lemon is the DMGS-Kennan Institute Fellow at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School and a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. He was previously a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University. He earned his PhD in international studies from the University of Exeter in 2016. In his research, he examines terrorism, authoritarian governance, religion, security, and migration in Eurasia. He is currently writing a book on transnational repression and counter-extremism in Tajikistan. Since 2009, he has spent almost three years working and conducting fieldwork in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Poland.