Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Central Asia has experienced a deluge of religious activity. All of the Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan —have seen the rapid construction of new mosques; the opening of madrassas; and a noticeable upswing in Muslim consciousness, evidenced in a marked increase in the practitioners of Islam.
Along with moderate and traditional forms of Islam, radical and militant Islamic trends have also reemerged in parts of Central Asia. In the 1990s, Islamist organizations engaged in low-scale insurgency and sporadic terrorist violence against the ruling regimes. The 9/11 attacks and the ensuing military campaign against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan—which shares a 1,480 mile border with Central Asia—heightened the strategic importance of the region, which sparked political and academic debates about the likelihood of Islamic radicalization and terrorism in Central Asia. As US and NATO troops gradually leave Afghanistan, many governments fear that “foreign fighters” from Central Asia who are currently in Afghanistan will return and destabilize their home countries.