https://central.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_ca/features/2016/07/29/feature-02
| Terrorism

Kyrgyzstan detains ISIL suspects

By Erkin Kamalov

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Kyrgyz Muslims July 18 in Jalal-Abad city listen to an anti-terrorism message during Friday prayers. [Erkin Kamalov]

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz authorities are still pursuing and prosecuting suspected "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) members.

The never-ending crackdown comes as authorities concede that more than 500 radicalised citizens joined militants in Syria and Iraq in 2015.

A long list of arrests

Authorities June 20 detained a 21-year-old citizen identified only as A. T., while he was trying to enter the country, according to the State National Security Committee (GKNB) press office. He had terrorist plans, the GKNB said.

The suspect "received sabotage and terrorism training and fought in Syria", the GKNB said. "According to our information, he arrived in Kyrgyzstan to plot and carry out terrorist acts."

The authorities have a number of counter-terrorism investigations and crackdowns going on right now, the GKNB said.

In another operation June 10 in Bishkek, intelligence officers cut off a route for sending terrorist recruits to Syria, the GKNB said. Its personnel arrested two men, 24 and 50. The older man was the younger one's ideological mentor, the GKNB said.

Those two were on the wanted list in a neighbouring country and crossed into Kyrgyzstan this February to commit terrorist attacks in public places, the GKNB said.

"On July 8, at Bishkek International Airport, we detained a 19-year-old Kyrgyz citizen, P. A., who was trying to go to Syria," Interior Ministry (MVD) spokesperson Almazbek Toguzakov told Caravanserai. "We removed her from the flight in time when her relatives reported her disappearance."

Catching Kyrgyz suspects abroad

Kyrgyz authorities are helping their colleagues around the world catch radicalised Kyrgyz citizens too, the MVD says.

On July 2 at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, only days after the fatal June 28 terrorist attack there, Turkish authorities arrested two passengers who flew in from Ukraine, Toguzakov said. One of them was a Kyrgyz citizen.

The pair had suspicious items like "four sniper scopes, camouflage uniforms and multiple IDs", Toguzakov said. "After a joint investigation with Turkey ... we identified the Kyrgyz citizen as Farkhojon Murodiljonov, 26, of Osh Province."

Murodiljonov had been abroad a long time, he said, adding that the suspect flew from Osh to Istanbul in September 2012.

Militants lose heart

However, authorities are seeing some encouraging signs after years of hard work and after ISIL began suffering major defeats on the battlefield in 2015.

This year has seen an increase in the number of Kyrgyz militants returning home from Syria and Iraq, Mekhrinisa Joroyeva, deputy chief of the Kara-Suu District, Osh Province, government, told Caravanserai.

"Our district had more residents go to Syria than any other district in Osh Province," she said. "For example, 42 went from Nariman rural district ... in 2014-2015."

"They all go there out of ignorance," she said. "We continue to work on preventing recruitment of [militants] to Syria. In 2016, not a single [Kara-Suu] resident has gone to Syria. It's the other way around. They're starting to come back in threes and fours."

Clerics help wage that fight against militancy, Joroyeva said, adding that they preach about militancy's dangers during Friday namaz (prayers) and on other days too.

One local mother is desperately hoping for renewed contact with her son, who vanished into the militant netherworld.

Nabisa Parpiyeva, 62, of Kara-Suu town, Osh Province, told Caravanserai that in 2015 she lost contact with her son, Ulugbek, who went to Turkey in 2013 to find work.

"At first he worked in Istanbul," she said. "But in 2014 he ended up in Syria. He told me this over the phone ... I pray to Allah that he will return soon."

She suspects that a neighbour who went to Turkey earlier recruited her son.

Grounds for concern

A sizable number of Kyrgyz migrant workers who claim to be in the CIS working are actually fighting in the Mideast for ISIL, Ainagul Toktoraliyeva, a teacher of history and the social sciences at Bishkek Humanities University, told Caravanserai.

"They write about it so openly ... on social media," she said. "They post pictures standing in front of ruined cities and historical monuments."

Unlike Joroyeva, Toktoraliyeva is concerned about militants who come home.

Each of them has made up a cover story about being a migrant worker, she said, adding that law enforcement needs to see what their further intentions are.

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They go out of ignorance, ha-ha! They go there for the money. This is their real face. And Uzbeks make up the majority for whatever reason.

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I don't understand - are those people in the photo also suspected members of ISIL?

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I don't understand - are those people in the photo also suspected members of ISIL?

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