Kyrgyz courts send terrorists to prison

By Erkin Kamalov


A Kyzyl-Kiya judge April 29 presides over the trial of Mirlanbek Mamarazakov, who is accused of recruiting 12 Kyrgyz to join ISIL. [Interior Ministry photo obtained by Erkin Kamalov]

OSH -- Kyrgyz courts are continuing to round up and imprison citizens who either joined the militancy in Syria and Iraq or tried to recruit countrymen to the terrorists' cause.

Hundreds of radicalised Kyrgyz have journeyed to those battlegrounds since 2011.

Recently convicted militants include Avazbek A. of Osh, 22, who fought for the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in Syria.

Recruited in the CIS

Avazbek was working in a CIS city in early 2015 when an extremist recruiter named Akhmadullo lured him into ISIL, Jenishbek Ashirbayev, Osh Province spokesman for the Interior Ministry (MVD) told Central Asia Online.

"Akhmadullo showed Avazbek footage of events in Syria," Ashirbayev said. "On March 17, 2015, Avazbek flew to Instabul ... he illegally crossed the Syrian border."

After combat training, Avazbek joined the militants battling Syrian government forces. His militant unit attacked civilians while retreating from a defeat.

Avazbek had a change of heart when he realised that his unit was guilty of fomenting fitna (strife), Ashirbayev said.

"After coming [secretly], he told his relatives and neighbours only that he had been travelling," Ashirbayev said. "However, when he was arrested last September ... he admitted that he had been in ISIL-controlled territory."

"During the trial, Avazbek fully admitted his guilt," Ashirbayev said.

An Osh Province appellate court April 5 upheld a lower Osh city court's February sentencing of Avazbek to five years in prison for terrorism.

11 years for another militant

Mirlanbek Mamarazakov of Kyzyl-Kiya, Batken Province, has even longer to ponder his misdeeds -- 11 years.

Mamarazakov, 26, "sent 12 people to Syria and Iraq", Kyzyl-Kiya judge Sultangazy Joroyev told Central Asia Online. "He was sentenced April 29 to 11 years in prison."

Mamarazakov "deliberately used the symbols ... of extremist organisations" in recruiting the 12 militants, Joroyev said. "In Turkey, he helped foreign recruiters of extremists, which is why he drew such a long sentence."

Kyrgyz authorities repatriated Mamarazakov's 24-year-old wife and young daughter, who were in Turkey with him, Joroyev said.

A problem for southern provinces

Batken, Jalal-Abad and Osh provinces still send the most militants to Syria and Iraq," Rayim Salimov, deputy chief of the MVD 10th Department, which fights extremism and terrorism, told Central Asia Online.

"The outreach meetings that we regularly hold with the public, though, have cut the outflow of [extremists] considerably," Salimov said.

This year so far in Kyzyl-Kiya, authorities have recorded 14 cases of recruitment by ISIL, including two married couples and three women, Salimov said.

Authorities are vigorously identifying terrorist leaders, recruiters, accomplices and other participants in extremist activity.

"In Osh the police caught three women who were planning in April to go to Syria," Salimov said. "The police caught them in time thanks to the local public's vigilance."

"Two of the women planned to take their six children with them," Salimov said. "We have identified an accomplice who gave the women plane tickets and money."

Finding a female extremist ring

Kyrgyz authorities have identified a network in the south that facilitates extremism among women.

"Some women in the guise of 'atincha' [religious leaders of women's cells] form groups," Anara Nurgaziyeva, a Bishkek social sciences instructor and religious scholar, told Central Asia Online.

"Under the pretext of studying Islam, they recruit other women into 'jihadism", Nurgaziyeva said.

Female extremists try to find women who are psychologically suitable for joining militancy and willing to sacrifice their lives, Nurgaziyeva said.

Recruiting women is a gradual process under which the phony atincha hears a woman's personal or family problems, Nurgaziyeva said.

The atincha then "advises [the women] to study the principles of religion, after which [she] lures them toward extremist ideas", Nurgaziyeva said.

Sometimes security measures can end up backfiring, she added. Some women's groups with extremist inclinations react to regular counter-extremism measures by going deep underground, which makes finding them much more difficult.

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