بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The case of Jamshid Muhtorov is strange and upsetting to all believers. Muhtorov was born in 1976 in Jizzakh, Uzbekistan, then under Communist Soviet rule. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father was a surgeon.
Uzbekistan was once part of the greater Islamic empire of Turkestan. Many great Muslim scholars, thinkers, and warriors came from this region. The great mujtahid scholar Imam al-Bukhari is from Bukhara, in Uzbekistan.
In this great land of Islam, Atheism became the state religion. In this environment, Islam was heavily suppressed and Muhtorov was unable to learn much about his nominal way of life – despite being from a family of ashraf (descendant of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ).
In 1991, Uzbekistan declared its independence from the USSR. It elected its first president on the 29th of December and proceeded to establish a constitution the following year. It then became one of the most inhumane and repressive governments on the face of the earth, wielding tyrannical power and subjugating the Uzbek people under an iron fist. John Kane, Senior U.S. District Judge who convicted Jamshid, writes in his decision,
Steven Swerdlow, an expert on the human rights history of Uzbekistan, described the country’s human rights record under Karimov as “atrocious” and “abysmal,” commenting that it was “by far one of the worst and most repressive situations of human rights on earth.”
In particular, Uzbekistan represses religious Muslims. Religious Muslims are deemed “extreme,” subject to prison with conditions which consist of: untreated disease, abuse, and torture.
What is more problematic is that Islamic education is de facto illegal in Uzbekistan, so Muslims have to turn to underground sources for instruction. These underground sources are then labelled as “terrorist entities” by the repressive state. Even being suspected of pursuing an Islamic education can lead to an interrogation and, therefore, torture.
Muhtorov graduated with his degree in construction engineering from a polytechnical university in Uzbekistan, in the year 2000. After doing so, Jamshid Muhtorov quickly turned to activism. He began working with a human rights organization, often appearing in court and interacting with NGOs on behalf of farmer’s rights.
At the same time, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was formed to topple the oppressive Karimov regime. A splinter of this group, which also fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, is what Jamshid Muhtorov would ultimately be convicted of supporting.
In 2005, the Karimov Uzbek tyrannical regime had its troops fire upon a peaceful protest in the city of Andijan. This became known as the Andijan massacre. It is speculated that over 1,500 innocent unarmed Uzbeks were killed. The Uzbek government claims that Islamist groups were involved in the protest, though no unbiased third-party information can easily be obtained.
This unjustified mass murder of Muslims shocked Jamshid to his core. As a result, he began intensifying his advocacy and philanthropy. The court’s decision to convict him states:
Afterwards, Muhtorov publicized reports from the incident and spoke out in opposition to the Uzbek government’s actions. As a result of this advocacy, he was beaten on two occasions. The second time, in November 2005, his nose was broken and he lost consciousness. Muhtorov’s family paid a hefty price for his work as well. His mother and his brother, Hurshid, were terminated from their jobs, and his sister and father were arrested.
Eventually, Jamshid realized he had to take his young family and flee Uzbekistan before the Uzbek government killed him. He fled to nearby Kyrgyzstan, where he was pursued by Uzbek intelligence agents.
While traveling in nearby countries, Jamshid had the opportunity to learn more about the Din he had been barred from while growing up in Uzbekistan. He fell in love with various speakers and studied as much as he could while fleeing the Uzbek goons.
The United States government, who had been surreptitiously funding various entities in Uzbekistan, heard about Jamshid’s case and offered him asylum as a political refugee fleeing from torture. By this time, Jamshid had a firm grasp of Islamic fundamentals, though he had to escape to the United States to protect his life and family.
Unfortunately, the United States was not what was promised. Muhtorov went from being a well-respected activist to a janitor and those hired by the government to assist his transition attempted to impose un-Islamic values onto his family. He found himself working in a casino, but upon learning that this was unacceptable Islamically, he quit. He then worked a grueling job in a meat packing plant.
Muhtorov began driving commercial freight trucks to support his young family and was involved in the Denver, Colorodo Muslim community. He enrolled his children in Islamic school and did his best to be a good Muslim father in this new country.
Upon learning that Muhtorov was opposed to the Uzbek government and supported anti-Uzbek government groups, the FBI decided to send an informant to him – as is typical of many terrorism convictions. Jamshid and a friend of his began discussing supporting one of the splinters of the IMU, which has not engaged in any anti-American activities in years and numbers only in the few dozen.
Muhtorov’s friend sent him $300 to support this group. According to court documents:
Although Muhtorov’s wife spent the $300 from Jumaev on their family’s expenses, Muhtorov continued to tell others about Jumaev’s “wedding gift” for the IJU.
However this $300 which Muhtorov’s wife spent on groceries was ultimately the crucial point of evidence used to convict him. There is no indication, as admitted by the court, that Muhtorov actually ever gave or attempted to give support to any militant organizations – although he expressed a wish to do so.
The government monitored and searched Jamshid without a warrant. He was surveilled, followed, and his privacy was invaded without any legal justification.
Muhtorov eventually decided that he wanted to move his family to Istanbul, Turkey. The prosecution claims that he had nefarious intentions to join anti-Uzbek government movements in Uzbekistan although there is no concrete evidence of that. Furthermore, it is unclear what that has to do with United States domestic or foreign policy.
It was before boarding the flight that Jamshid was arrested. He refused to become an undercover informant for the government and was ultimately sentenced to eleven years in 2012. He appealed his conviction on the basis of the warrantless surveillance which was used to discover evidence that his friend sent him $300 which his wife purchased groceries with, but this was denied in December of 2021.
On January 2nd of 2022, the United States government in collaboration with the government of Uzbekistan decided to deport Jamshid Muhtorov back to Uzbekistan. This is despite the high likelihood of his detention and torture in that country after eleven years in the American justice system, which routinely violates “human rights” according to the ACLU and the United Nations.
Your brother Jamshid was oppressed growing up in Uzbekistan, where he was not allowed to learn about Islam. He was oppressed when he attempted to expose the massacre of Muslims as an activist. He was oppressed when he was surveilled without warrant and incarcerated for eleven years on the basis of $300 in groceries. Do not allow him to be oppressed again by being tortured once more by the Uzbek government.
Please contact the Uzbek embassy about brother Jamshid at:
وَلَقَد أَرسَلنا مِن قَبلِكَ رُسُلًا إِلىٰ قَومِهِم فَجاءوهُم بِالبَيِّناتِ فَانتَقَمنا مِنَ الَّذينَ أَجرَموا ۖ وَكانَ حَقًّا عَلَينا نَصرُ المُؤمِنينَ
Before you We sent other Messengers to their people, and they too brought them the Clear Signs. We took revenge on those who did evil; and it is Our duty to help the mu’minun.
[Surah Rum, Rome (30:47)]