OSH -- Kyrgyz prosecutors continue to bring extremists to justice.
In a recent case, the Osh Province Court July 20 upheld the conviction of Abdullokh Nurmatov, 21, of Kara-Suu, Osh Province.
A lower court in May convicted him of acquiring and storing extremist materials and using the symbols of extremist organisations.
Nurmatov ordinarily would have gone to prison for three years, as the lower court wanted. However, in recognition of his youth and lack of a criminal record, the provincial court reduced his sentence to one year's probation.
Nurmatov distributed extremist online propaganda calling for the creation of a "caliphate", Jenishbek Ashirbayev, Interior Ministry (MVD) spokesman for Osh city and Osh Province, told Caravanserai.
"We found out one year ago on August 20," Ashirbayev said. "A special commission for religious affairs classified these materials -- which appeared on the Odonoklassniki social network -- as extremist."
Authorities found Nurmatov to have ties to two other extremists who were using social networks to demand overthrow of the Kyrgyz government, Ashirbayev said.
Nurmatov's acquaintances are expressing shock at his hidden nature.
"We all go to the same mosque," a neighbour, Ziyabiddin Ubaidullayev, told Caravanserai. "No one could suspect that Abdullokh had radical views."
"We were even happy for him that he performed the five daily prayers," Ubaidullayev said.
Most likely, Nurmatov fell victim to internet recruitment, Ubaidullayev said, noting that online "imams" sow dissent among vulnerable believers.
"We are all grateful that the court ... gave him probation," he said. "Now the Muslims in our neighbourhood will help maintain order. We hope not to see such incidents again [from Nurmatov]."
Besides storing flash drives and other forms of extremist content at home, Nurmatov had an online persona, Kanatbek Abdiraimov, a Bishkek-based spokesman for the State Commission for Religious Affairs (GKDR), told Caravanserai.
Nurmatov tried to instigate extremists with exhortations like "Congratulations on the coming caliphate!" and "Do you want Kyrgyzstan to become an Islamic state?", Abdiraimov said.
Keeping an eye on online behaviour
Because of recent events, such as the civil war in Syria, where hundreds of Kyrgyz have gone to fight since 2011, Kyrgyz authorities "thoroughly examine online accounts with extremist content", Osh-based MVD investigator Eldiyar Myrzakanov testified in court May 18, during Nurmatov's first trial.
The police first became aware of Nurmatov's behaviour in July 2015, according to the Kyrgyz police. They noticed that he had been active in social networks and had been "liking" extremist postings.
Because he refused to stop, even after a warning visit at home by police, authorities ended up arresting him at some point in late 2015.
"We proved [his extremism] in the presence of a notary public last September 1," Myrzakanov testified in court. "Authorities seized 15 pages of extremist e-mail from his account."