Refugee murders in Boise, ID still a mystery

This is one complicated story in the Idaho Statesman.  The gist of it is:  two Uzbek refugees (from a government crackdown in the Andijan region of Uzbekistan)  living in Boise, ages 29 and 33 died exactly one month apart in 2006.  The cause of death is still unknown.   In the wake of their mysterious deaths, others in their refugee community have packed up and returned to Uzbekistan. 

Refugee resettlement agencies aren’t saying much, and the FBI says it has not been involved (even though it appears it may have been).

Boise’s two mysterious deaths have been discussed at the United Nations, may have attracted the attention of the FBI (though adding to the intrigue, the agency denies it), and could have helped spur a wave of refugee returns that experts say is almost unprecedented.


Around the time the two men died, Uzbek refugees living in the U.S. and other countries began returning to their homeland amid allegations the Uzbek authorities were pressuring them to come back. The most recent wave included several refugees from Boise who left this month, even as the U.S. State Department added Uzbekistan to its list of the top 10 violators of human rights.


Now, almost two years after the deaths, most of the refugees and even the local people who work with them still refuse to talk about what could have happened to the two men.


Of the 250 Andijan refugees who spent more than a year in refugee camps in Kyrgyzstan and Romania before being relocated to the U.S., between one-third and one-half have since returned to the country from which they fled.


The first group, 12 refugees in Arizona, left in July 2006. The most recent group, about a dozen refugees, left Boise earlier this month.


The refugees’ return to Uzbekistan has some human rights and refugee organizations baffled – and wondering whether the country was indeed pressuring its citizens to return.


“It is extremely rare, in my experience the idea or situation of a group returning en masse, together is unprecedented,” said Jan Reeves, director of the Idaho Office for Refugees, who has worked with thousands of refugees over 20 years.

By the way,  the government of Uzbekistan claims it was putting down an uprising of Islamic extremists in Andijan, a claim which is disputed by human rights workers. 

This is a very confusing story for many reasons.  One thing that makes no sense is why would a government go to such extremes to bring a few emigres back to Uzbekistan.   

I also wonder why the refugee agency involved is being so silent, you would think they would want to help solve the mysterious deaths of refugees they helped resettle.

I wrote previously about Boise here and here.   Something smells fishy in Boise.

Your state: I’m working on it!

I’ve been so lazy about trying to get more information up on our “Your state” page (at the top of RRW).  Yesterday I had a request for some basic information about Washington state.   I discovered that not only did I not have any information at my fingertips, I had forgotten to even list Washington in the state list!

Embarrassed, I put up a few things on Washington state this morning.   I will try to do something each day on a state (if nothing else too exciting distracts me!).    

April Fools Day, Refugee program turns 28

The Refugee Act of 1980 that set in motion the Refugee Resettlement program as we know it today was enacted in March 1980, signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, and went into effect on April 1, 1980.

Here is the list of Senators responsible, in case you want to thank those who are still around:

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) chief sponsor


Sen. Jos. Biden (DE)

Sen. Mark Hatfield (OR)

Sen. Carl Levin (MI)

Sen. Daniel Moynihan (NY)

Sen. Randolph Jennings (WV)

Sen. Donald Riegle (MI)

Sen. Paul Tsongas (MA)

Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (MN)

Sen. Jacob Javits (NY)

Sen. George McGovern (SD)

Sen. Claiborn Pell (RI)

Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (CT)

Sen. Paul Sarbanes (MD)

Sen. Harrison Williams (NJ)

One thing that has always interested me is that although Senators from WV and DE promoted this legislation, both of those states have taken less than 1000 refugees in 28 years, while others states have taken tens of thousands.  

Go here and check out the table.  Note that DE has taken 747, WV 404, and contrast that to MD 30,777.  I guess Maryland is just more “welcoming” to all immigrants (legal and illegal).

Refugee sentenced in Ft. Dix Six plot

The Albanian refugee who supplied the guns in the foiled Ft. Dix Six plot to kill soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq got off lightly in NJ yesterday according to this article in the New York Times.

CAMDEN, N.J. — A 25-year-old man who admitted he supplied guns and ammunition to friends accused of plotting to attack soldiers at the Fort Dix military base in New Jersey was sentenced on Monday to 20 months in prison, a term that exceeds the federal guidelines but falls short of the five years prosecutors had sought.


The man, Agron Abdullahu, an ethnic Albanian who immigrated to the United States in 1999 from a refugee camp in Macedonia, has already served almost 11 months in prison and could be released by year’s end, his lawyer said.


“I wish I never let them use my guns,” Mr. Abdullahu said at a hearing Monday morning before the sentence was pronounced. “I’m sorry. I can’t turn back time.”


Judge Robert B. Kugler of Federal District Court here rejected motions from prosecutors for “upward departures” and an “enhancement” that would have significantly extended Mr. Abdullahu’s sentence, but he still imposed a sentence harsher than the 10 to 16 months called for in federal guidelines.


“I am convinced this was not as innocent as he would like us to believe,” the judge said of Mr. Abdullahu.

So the judge gave him 20 months instead of 16.    Wow, what a punishment.