Cyclists murdered in Tadjikistan

Several weeks ago a story did the rounds about an American couple who took off on a cycling expedition around the world only to end up murdered in Tadjikistan. It appears they were cycling down a road with two Europeans when a car deliberately rammed into them, killing all four. Later it was discovered the perpetrators were ISIS sympathisers looking for some westerners to kill.

Reader Rob Harries sends me this article which suggests the Americans were staggeringly naive:

To read Austin’s blog is to see no hint of hesitation, on the part of either of them, to keep on cycling – no sign of fear that their luck might run out at any moment. Their naivete is nothing less than breathtaking.

Austin’s blog also provides a window on his (and presumably her) hippie-dippy worldview and ultra-PC politics.

They then reference a rather idealistic article written in the New York Times about the couple, and the reaction it drew from people who seemed to think this story had an upside:

The Times article about Austin and Geoghegan drew hundreds of reader comments. A surprising number were by other people who’d bicycled or backpacked in far-off, dangerous places. Most saw Austin and Geoghegan as “heroic,” “authentic,” “idealistic,” “inspiring,” “a Beautiful example of Purity and Light.” Sample reactions: “Their candle burned brightly before it was extinguished.” And: “Good for them! They followed their dream.” Then there’s this: “I only see the beauty of two people taking steps to live the life they envision….The good experienced in their journey far far outweighs any negative.” Easy to say when you’re not the one in the body bag.

But they then go on to say this:

Perusing all the reader comments, I found exactly two that mentioned Islam critically. Here’s one: “Tajikistan is 96.7% Islamic. It is a dangerous place for American tourists….This is not Islamophobia. It is common sense.”

To be honest, I think even if the cyclists were incredibly naive it is a unfair to blame them for going to Tadjikistan and running into ISIS. Did anyone know there were ISIS sympathisers out to murder people in Central Asia? I didn’t, but a lot of people are now running around saying we shouldn’t be surprised because Tadjikistan is Islamic, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Now there are no doubt a number of Muslim Central Asians who sympathise with ISIS several of whom even went to fight for them, but the ‘stans are hardly hotbeds of radical Islam where westerners are instantly marked for death.

What they are, however, is rife with general criminals who would quite happily rob foreign tourists, especially if they were in the middle of nowhere. For a long time I harboured a desire to visit Uzbekistan, and take a road trip from Tashkent through Samarkand and Bukhara to Khiva and the Aral Sea. However, the advice was this would be a dangerous undertaking because of the number of bandits on the road, some of whom wear police uniforms. Kazakhstan is probably better, but oil industry workers get mugged in Atyrau at a far higher rate than in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. I don’t know many non-FSU people who’ve travelled in rural Kyrgyzstan, but I’d guess that’s a little safer: my observation is that the Kyrgyz are less aggressive than Uzbeks, but I hardly did a scientific study. But the poorest, most remote, and most mountainous of the ‘stans is Tadjikistan and this is the place a foreign tourist who’s wandered off the beaten path is most likely to get mugged, robbed, or waylaid in some fashion. I imagine if you told a local you intended to cycle across Tadjikistan they’d think you were nuts, and try to talk you out of it.

So my guess is these cyclists were naive and probably shouldn’t have undertaken such a trip, but it’s rather daft to suggest that, with Tadjikistan being Islamic, they ought to have been aware of the dangers presented by ISIS sympathisers. Those wishing to make a similar trip in future ought to take this into account though or, better, go somewhere else.

Liked it? Take a second to support Tim Newman on Patreon!
Share

31 thoughts on “Cyclists murdered in Tadjikistan

  1. Central Asia obviously has its problems but people were talking about it as if it was Anbar Province circa 2015.

  2. You gotta wonder what the misguided and unfortunate idealist and his stupid trollop of a bird thought during the fleeting moment that for the first time in their short lives that their virtue signalling message was received loud and clear by those they welcome with open arms, knowing that they had sipped on their last soy latte, something like:

    “you murdering mossie cunts?”

  3. I’m appalled by the “Darwin award” style coments this story has attracted. Yes, they were foolish, but a robust civilisation would find those cunts and crucify them.

    I’m sick and tired of this “feel free to attack us and walk away laughing” attitude.

  4. I’m sick and tired of this “feel free to attack us and walk away laughing” attitude.

    Yes. The trouble is there is a feeling, perhaps justified, that the deceased and their fellow travellers are the ones responsible for making western civilisation a lot less robust than it used to be.

  5. I didn’t follow this story but was the ISIS accusation just a CYA move from the Tajik government to “solve the case”? I compare that to crimes solved in Russia where it the police seem to always find a Chechen for everything.

  6. Howard,

    That’s a good point, it may well be that. And you’re right about Russia’s infinite supply of Chechen patsies.

  7. They chose adventure. Adventure is by definition dangerous, though the degree differs.
    That it didn’t work out is unfortunate, but was always on the cards.
    The queries are did these people understand or underestimate the risks and possible consequences?
    Depending on that were they brave or foolhardy?
    I would point out that cycling always carries a risk and the more you do the more the risk, even without any malice being involved.

  8. Presumably there was no reason they’d expect ISIS in particular, but any Westerner travelling in a Muslim-majority area of the world should be aware that he’s taking an unnecessary risk. I don’t know how many Muslims worldwide are violently opposed to Westerners, but to imagine that the odds are no greater than in downtown Berkeley is beyond naive IMO.

  9. I don’t know how many Muslims worldwide are violently opposed to Westerners, but to imagine that the odds are no greater than in downtown Berkeley is beyond naive IMO.

    I’d take my chances in Malaysia, Kuwait, or Tatarstan long before New York, London, or Manchester!

  10. “to imagine that the odds are no greater than in downtown Berkeley is beyond naive IMO.”

    A few years ago I worked in an office in London of a few thousand people, of whom say 33% were Muslim. The threat was zero.

    Out on the streets in say Wood Green, the odds are not massively higher. We have been dealing with random attacks. There are probably parts of London, Birmingham etc where the threat is much higher. My colleagues were normal people earning a living. It’s the people who are not earning a living who tend to pose the threat, I suggest

  11. Graeme, that sounds like the l/w canard about how we need only chuck a bit more money at one disaffected group after another, they’ll become our BFFs.

    One of the terrorists who attacked Glasgow airport in 2007 was a doctor with the NHS (Bilal Abdullah); the other, Kafeel Ahmed, was an aeronautical engineer. Hassan Hanafi, executed for terrorism in 2016, was ‘a respected reporter and broadcaster in Somalia for many years’ (BBC).
    And there have been many articles detailing how Islamic terrorists do not fit this ‘profile’:
    ‘Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?’ (Spoiler: no. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2003)
    ‘Britain’s MI5 revealed that “two-thirds of the British suspects have a middle-class profile and those who want to become suicide bombers are often the most educated”.’ (Gatestone Institute, 2016)

    Nor can the oft-claimed linking of poverty and terrorism be satisfactorily established in other theatres, e.g. NI:

    Between April 1994 and March 1995, there were 38,643 claims for animals killed or injured as a result of military helicopter activity and over £6.1 million was paid out in compensation. The overall figure for compensation paid out for dead animals, damage to property and requisitioned land between 1991 and 1997 was nearly £9.5 million to claimants in South Armagh compared with less than £1.9 million in the whole of the rest of Northern Ireland. Investigations revealed evidence of massive and systematic fraud, with hundreds of thousands of pounds of the MOD’s money ending up in the hands of the IRA.

    Eamon Collins said:
    ‘I was once stopped by a British Army patrol and the officer was talking to me about the claims in South Armagh by all the farmers for damage to their land. He said there were so many claims made and paid out very generously by the British administration for fences that had been cut by soldiers that by now we should be seeing nothing in South Armagh, only a gleam of metal from the air; there must be a million yards of it. In South Armagh, practically every second car is a Mercedes or BMW. You go out and there are three-storey houses being built everywhere. Where’s all the money coming from?’
    The IRA, he said, had taken more than its fair share of that wealth, whereas in Belfast many IRA men lived in relative poverty.
    ‘In South Armagh, practically every IRA activist I know has a f***ing good house. You’re talking about places worth £100,000 easy. The same house in Dublin would be worth three or four hundred thousand. A lot have several cars, four-wheel drives, the lot. Okay, they worked hard for it, maybe they earned it, I don’t know, maybe they did some smuggling, some of them have good businesses. But if we had a situation that justifies war there wouldn’t be any of these people living in these decent houses: the British Army would have been knocking the things down, the same way as they do in Israel. If a Palestinian family has a son who died in a suicide bomb their house is bulldozed. I don’t see that happening in South Armagh.’

    Eamon Collins said he felt the authorities had been happy to pour money into South Armagh and raise the level of prosperity. ‘I remember somebody in the States talking about the war in Vietnam and he said the way to deal with the problems in Vietnam was to drown the revolution in baby milk. And I am semi-convinced that South Armagh has been drowned in baby milk over the past 20 years.’

    Harnden, Toby. ‘Bandit Country’, The IRA & South Armagh. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1999. 452,453–4,455.

    We’ve tried ‘drowning them in baby milk’ and it hasn’t worked—it’s just another liberal lie, another one of their excuses to justify evil people being evil.

    The way to stop terrorism is with a 7.62 in centre of body mass, a 5.56 between the eyes, or a 9-mil in the back of the head.

  12. Most saw Austin and Geoghegan as “heroic,” “authentic,” “idealistic,” “inspiring,” “a Beautiful example of Purity and Light.” Sample reactions: “Their candle burned brightly before it was extinguished.” And: “Good for them! They followed their dream.” Then there’s this: “I only see the beauty of two people taking steps to live the life they envision….The good experienced in their journey far far outweighs any negative.”

    Would anyone say this if they failed to take adequate precautions and got run over on the interstate?

    Because it’s basically the same thing.

  13. I think this was somewhat unfair on the pair of them. They were naive, but I’ve naively traveled as well. I remember well walking through a rough housing estate in Manchester while drunk, and a number of locals thought I was lucky to be alive.

  14. @Tim – “The trouble is there is a feeling, perhaps justified, that the deceased and their fellow travellers are the ones responsible for making western civilisation a lot less robust than it used to be.”

    Nobody in the West is celebrating their brutal murder, quite the opposite in fact. But given that they are gone now and none of us done it, we can perform some kind of cursory analysis and thankfully we can find a positive conclusion to this event.

    He worked for HUD (I know them well and bought about 10 foreclosed homes from them) she was a yooni letter inner, both very nothing burger type of jobs and I bet you London to a brick they were actively socializing their work. He would be fucking up inner city ghettos, she would be making sure that straight, white, christian males never got into yooni. They were not married and had no children.

    He said this on his blog “I don’t buy it, evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own… ”

    I would give them 10 out of 10 for walking their idealist talk, fair play to them here. It’s certainly more admirable than throwing paint on a statue.

    But maybe this was an evolutionary force at play here.

  15. @ScotchedEarth

    Not forgetting the city gent that was convicted of masterminding the rampant football hooliganism across the UK back in the day.

  16. Their attackers were unaware of their politics and would have attacked any of us with equal abandon. If you are not prepared to avenge your citizens then your citizens are not safe anywhere.

    If four muslims were killed by guys wearing white tabards with red crosses who then posted the pictures online, what do you think the muslims would do?

    We are an empire of old women.

  17. I think this was somewhat unfair on the pair of them. They were naive, but I’ve naively traveled as well. I remember well walking through a rough housing estate in Manchester while drunk, and a number of locals thought I was lucky to be alive.

    There was something more than naivety here, though. They embarked on an extremely dangerous journey, believing that their hippy-dippy good intentions would shield them from harm. Just think good thoughts and everything will be OK.

    It reminds me of the way that western governments are (not) dealing with the migrant issue. Oh, we have a female genital mutilation problem now? Well, listen all you white guys, FGM is bad, mmmkay? Now let’s not discuss it any more. Everyone think happy thoughts about diversity!

  18. Julia, that’s a TV show in reality nobody from the US will ever come to save you.

    “The difference between a communist and a liberal is that the communist knows what he is doing.” James Burnham, an ex-Communist turned conservative.

    Patton “At the present time our chief difficulty is not the Germans, but gasoline. If they would give me enough gas, I could go all the way to Berlin!”

    On April 15, Ike issued a halt order forbidding Allied commanders from crossing the Elbe River.

    President Truman “I have ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The 7th Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.”

    General MacArthur “I realized for the first time that I had actually been denied the use of my full military power to safeguard the lives of my soldiers and the safety of my army. It left me with a sense of inexpressible shock.”

    Joseph McCarthy “Suppose . . . we had not implored Russia to enter the war in the Far East, had not equipped her army [when the Communists eventually took China, they did so with US equipment via Russia], had not given her the right to take Manchuria – would the sudden collapse of Japan on the 10th of August, 1945, have found the Russians? . . . Had we followed the advice of Admiral Leahy, instead of Marshall, the war with Japan would no doubt have come to its abrupt end with the Kremlin dickering with us for a bribe which they obtained with such miraculous ease at Yalta. The situation in the Far East–then and today–would have in that case looked something like this: The surrender of the Japanese Kwantung army in Manchuria would have been made to the Americans and Chinese. The Americans would have held Manchuria–and all Korea for the Koreans . . . “

  19. There was a bloody civil war in Tajikistan in 1992-97. The local Islamists were part of the losing coalition. Its support base was mostly in the southern mountains close to the Afghan border. That region has never been quite safe, although there’s a Russian military base on the border that’s supposed to keep out Afghan raiders and drug traffickers.

  20. There was a bloody civil war in Tajikistan in 1992-97.

    Somehow I’d forgotten that. I understand Tadjikistan was also exempt from participating in the Soviet invasion and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan. A good chunk of the Northern Alliance were ethnic Tadjiks.

  21. On the other hand, I’ve heard of cyclists getting murdered in Central America for their cash and bicycles, and I know a Russian guy who’s cycled from Alaska to the Strait of Magellan aware of the risks. He didn’t do it out of love for humanity, however.

  22. Incredible. I do do not doubt the commentators in the original piece would have expressed apoplectic fury had this couple been murdered by far-right Russian nationalists.

  23. I’m travelling quite a bit at the moment, and you have to factor in risk unless you are stupid.

    Majority Muslim is not a problem. Jordan is safe and apart from some silly attempts at outrageous taxi fees, free of rip-offs. Turkish Cyprus we enjoyed too.

    Venezuela would be on my list but extremely dangerous at the moment. Yet rather free on Muslimness.

    I’ve seriously looked at travelling the Stans, as I have an interest in their history. That they are Islamic is a bonus for me. That they are dangerous is without question.

    There’s a fairly simple test for safety: how do the moderately rich live? If it’s in gated communities or with bodyguards, then I don’t go there. If the European community live in guarded compounds, then it’s out of the question.

  24. Chester Draws: …how do the moderately rich live? If it’s in gated communities or with bodyguards, then I don’t go there.

    Much of urban Brazil would be off limits then.

  25. “…the city gent that was convicted of masterminding the rampant football hooliganism across the UK back in the day.”

    Oh come on Bardon, you can’t allude to such an interesting story without a reference, or at least enough details that I can google it myself.

    Unless I’ve fallen for a wind-up…

  26. There are places that set themselves up as tourist destinations: they accept the cash in exchange for an influx of ignorant oicks who come and gawp at them.

    Other place I imagine may take great offence at being treated as a zoo, for the amusement of the visitor,. No one asked them for permission to use them as entertainment.

    So yes, I can imagine some places that take exception to westerners intruding uninvited. Does that excuse murder? Of course not, in our culture anyway. But any small group of travellers is vulnerable, and not just in ‘those’ places – a few years ago Northern Australia made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    Blaming ISIS, which might or might not be valid, has the sound of an excuse – or campaign – about it.

  27. @ Matthew- “Oh come on Bardon, you can’t allude to such an interesting story without a reference, or at least enough details that I can google it myself.”

    Like all of these things they are pretty well documented in various spots, that’s why I used quotes verbatim.

    Foseti gets somewhere near the point here, although not entirely, who does, and McCarthy was not an alcoholic either.

    Review of “America’s Retreat from Victory” by Joseph R. McCarthy

    In brief, McCarthy’s argument is that Marshall’s “peace” came at the cost of selling all of Eastern Europe and China to the Soviets. In exchange, the US got . . . nothing. I guess since Marshall won the Nobel Peace Prize, we can be sure he wasn’t a Communist sympathizer.

    Anyway, let’s take McCarthy’s arguments by theater.

    https://foseti.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/review-of-americas-retreat-from-victory-by-joseph-r-mccarthy/

Comments are closed.