Hizb-ut-tahrir al-Islami (HT, Party of Islamic Liberation)

Fundamentalist Islamic movement that seeks through non-violent means to restore the caliphate and institute sharia throughout the Muslim world. Founded in 1953 in Saudi Arabia and Jordan by Diaspora Palestinians. Most widespread underground movement in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzistan and Tajikistan.

Vision for Central Asia:

· To unite Central Asia, Xinjiang Province of Western China (where there is a large Muslim presence) end eventually the whole of the Muslim ummah under one Khilafat which looks back towards the Khilafah during the time of the four rightly guided khalifs as a model.

Methods:
· Wants to win over mass support. Then believes that the supporters will rise and overthrow the existing regimes.
· Uses high-tech options eg. Internet, video presentations, CDs and print media to spread its message.
· Most effective tool in Central Asia has been the 'shabnama' or night letter - a photocopied leaflet slipped under doors in the dead of night.

Ideology:
· Looks to the seerah (life of the Prophet) as blueprint for spreading its message against 'modern day Jahilliya'. 'The Prophet (saw) spread his the message in secret, then in open then called for Jihad.'
· Believes seizing power is the only way to impose sharia and transform social behaviour.
· Believes an Islamic Political State will then evolve of itself.
· Intolerant of other Muslim groups - violently opposed to Sufis and Shi'is

Support Base:
· Most widespread underground movement in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzistan and Tajikistan.
· Popular with urban, educated youth.

Status:
· In Central Asia: It is an 'Unregistered Islamic Group' - officially not allowed to exist.
· Members are often arrested, jailed and tortured.
· Banned in many parts of the Middle East.

Leadership/ organisation:
· Leader : Sheikh Zaloon (Palestinian)
· Operates on a cell based system in Central Asia (Daira):

o Decentralised 5-7 man cells
o Only the head of the cell knows the next level of party organisation

Foundations:
· Founded in 1953 in Saudi Arabia and Jordan by Diaspora Palestinians
· Main founder: Sheikh Taqiuddin An-Nabbani

o Studied at Al-Azhar
o Forced to leave Palestine as Israel expanded

(Source: Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, Yale University Press 2002)