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The government will likely also continue to seek alliances with international partners, possibly by balancing Russia, China and the U.S., to combat Jihadist influences in Afghanistan and in the region.

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Uzbek militant groups in Syria now appear ready to take the IMU’s place as the leaders of Uzbek militancy and likely have the experience, funding and international networks to sustain themselves and pose a security threat to Uzbekistan.

This means that the government will assert its legitimacy to clamp down on extremist groups in the country even when international pressure groups disagree.

Syria did not only have greater religious and historical significance than Afghanistan, where the IMU was based.

Syria was also logistically much easier to reach – mostly overland via Istanbul, a destination accessible by flight from Central Asia, Russia or the Middle East.

IMPLICATIONS: The Taliban did not take kindly to Ghazi’s pledge of loyalty to Al-Baghdadi, especially since Ghazi did so after denouncing the Taliban and accusing them of lying about Mullah Umar still being alive (Ghazi proved to be correct on this point, as the Taliban later admitted Mullah Umar was indeed dead).

As punishment for this betrayal, in late 2015 the Taliban killed (or severely injured) Ghazi and many IMU members at a base in Zabul Province, as revealed by photos posted on Facebook and other Taliban claims.The IBB, KTJ and other Uzbek militants in Syria continue to attract followers, gain battlefield experience and make international connections.Moreover, the Russian airstrikes, which have taken a toll on the IBB and KTJ, have increased their desire for revenge against Russia and has by association refocused their interest to the Russian-speaking Central Asian states.Since then, the IMU has been silent and can for the most part now be considered extinct.The Taliban’s elimination of the IMU is a stark reminder that despite 15 years of U. and coalition involvement in Afghanistan, many terrorist groups were not eliminated.The Uzbeks in ISIS, similarly, have fought with other Russian- or Turkic-speakers.

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