Police block off a street following Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York City, October 2017.
Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

This week’s terrorist attack in Manhattan, carried out by a citizen of Uzbekistan, Sayfullo Saipov, followed several assaults and bombings also involving people from that country: the New Year’s shooting in Istanbul was executed by Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek citizen; Rakhmat Akilov, an Uzbek whose application for asylum was rejected, was responsible for the Stockholm attack in April; and the bombing in the St. Petersburg metro a few days earlier was led by Akbarzhon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbek born in Kyrgyzstan who held Russian citizenship.

In light of the strikes, Western media outlets have grappled with the relationship between Uzbekistan and religious terrorism, discussing for instance the problem of “Central Asian Militancy” and “How Uzbekistan Became A Hotbed For Violent Extremism And Radicalism.” But such analysis is too simplistic.

Since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been one of the most repressive countries in Central Asia in terms of

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  • MARLENE LARUELLE is Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Central Asia Program at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.
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