Kyrgyzstan battles attempts to radicalise population

By Bakyt Ibraimov

K. J., a suspected extremist, is arrested in Osh August 18. [Courtesy of Osh city police press office]

K. J., a suspected extremist, is arrested in Osh August 18. [Courtesy of Osh city police press office]

OSH -- Kyrgyzstan is regularly counteracting extremists' attempts to dupe young Kyrgyz into joining wars in the Middle East.

Police August 18 in Osh arrested K. J., 18, of Nariman village, Osh Province. They had kept him under surveillance for more than a month.

Police nabbed K. J. as he was meeting with an individual he had been recruiting to join the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in Syria, Osh city police spokesman Zamir Sydykov told Caravanserai.

Suspect was young but already hardened, police say

"Investigators found several dozen videos from ISIL, which is a banned organisation in Kyrgyzstan, on his cell phone," Sydykov said about K. J. "His chat logs show propaganda messages urging others to wage jihad."

Even though K. J. is young, he already had a professional alias, Abdullokh, and actively sought out recruits to go to Syria, Sydykov said.

K. J. is accused of using as recruiting tools texts and video clips that militants in Syria sent to him.

K. J.'s notebook computer at home had "extremist propaganda by Takhir Yuldashev" (the late co-founder of the terrorist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) and by other extremists, Sydykov added.

K. J. expressed extremist sentiments under questioning, police say.

"I want to go [to Syria] and learn," he reportedly said during questioning. "I want to receive combat training and learn to shoot."

More than 600 Kyrgyz are fighting in the Middle East, the government estimates.

Several reasons motivate some young Kyrgyz to turn to radicalism, Bishkek political science professor Nurlan Namatov told Caravanserai.

"The first reason is corruption," he said. "When citizens can't obtain justice, they ... turn to mullahs. The second is foreign funding of Islamic communities."

Ways to prevent radicalisation

"After doing a study, we found that 99% of Kyrgyz youth support traditional Islam," Namatov said. "We need to distribute brochures that explain the fundamental canons of Islam."

The government needs to develop a clear ideology that takes the form of promoting the Kyrgyz people's history through mass media, the internet and other means, he said.

The state should take a more pro-active approach than making arrests, another Bishkek political scientist, Igor Shestakov,

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