Fazliddin Kurbanov’s trial is over, and as quickly as it began, most people will forget about the issues raised in court. A jury found that Fazliddin had agreed with a person identified as “Ahmadi” to provide material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He had not sent them the money they asked for or the software they wanted to protect their website, but he had communicated with them, and much of what he wrote sounded like he wanted to help them. The jury found he had the makings of a bomb, and that he attempted to provide himself to the movement. But what did the IMU really stand for a couple years ago? Were they freedom fighters headed back to Uzbekistan to throw out the Karimov regime or were they simply terrorists, hell bent on using Islam as an excuse for inflicting suffering and death on innocent nonbelievers? Either way, the American justice system had little stomach for Fazliddin’s apparent willingness to help.
I took this case knowing almost nothing about the circumstances in Uzbekistan. In truth, I needed a map to find the place, and a history of the country to understand the complicated nature of its people and their ruler. This much seems clear to me, the Karimov government has terrorized the people of that land. There seems too little freedom for Uzbeks under his regime and at least one refugee told me that the people were likely better off when the Soviets ran the place. Hope does not spring eternal there. The government suppresses free speech, quashes dissent, and kills those who it opposes. President Karimov is universally held responsible for the Andijan massacre, leaving rivers of blood and piles of corpses. He had hundreds of his own people killed for no reason. More recently the former ambassador from Great Britton has written that the regime boiled its enemies – and they published the grisly pictures for the world to observe.
Terrorism in any form is evil. Whether sanctioned by a government or promoted as a religious duty, the killing of innocent persons grieves us all. Oppose it when you can. Call it out as you see it. And do not support those who do either.
I am mostly sad for Fazliddin Kurbanov’s family. His wife will likely raise their young son by herself. His mother and sister cried in my office last night after the verdict was announced. Theirs were tears for a dead husband, brother and son. He is alive, but he will never live the life they envisioned. His father misses him too. I am a father, and the thought that I might never hug my son again would break me. And I am sad because his life seems wasted. He is bright and articulate and he seemingly had the golden ring when he landed in America, but the rights we have here come with responsibility. Our people will always act to protect our land and our families.
If the jury got it all wrong, and I believe they did, it was not their fault. They saw a young man who spoke about targeting this country, and who gathered up chemicals and a grenade body. They figured he intended harm. More likely he got caught up in a whirlwind of deception. They saw danger and were afraid. I wish they had seen the young man I have known for the past two years. Perhaps they would have let him go.