BISHKEK -- Security forces are on alert to prevent destabilisation attempts in Kyrgyzstan, while clergy and education experts are working on new curriculum to protect young people from extremist views.
Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security (GKNB) arrested 28-year-old Shamo Mamedov, a member of an international terrorist organisation, during a counter-terror operation September 2 in Bishkek.
"He came from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan [as a sleeper agent], where he has been taking orders from his leaders," GKNB spokesman Rakhat Sulaimanov told Caravanserai. "During his time here, as ordered by his commanders, he has been deploying 'jihadists' to combat zones in Syria."
Several days earlier, on August 29, another member of an underground cell of an international terrorist organisation, A. Kh., was killed during an armed resistance in Bishkek, Sulaimanov said. A large number of munitions, a Saiga shotgun, and an improvised explosive device (IED) were seized from the militant.
"The following day, August 30, a terror attack struck one of embassies in Bishkek," Sulaimanov said. "A suicide bomber rammed his van into the embassy gates, where he detonated a powerful IED."
According to the GKNB, the attacker was a 33-year-old Uighur who held a Tajik passport with the name of Zoir Khalilov. He was a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Syria.
"[Authorities] made a list of suspects who might have been involved in the embassy bombing and announced that 25-year-old Izzotillo Sattybayev, who underwent saboteur training in Syria and assisted the suicide bomber, is on the wanted list," the GKNB press service said.
Five accomplices, all Kyrgyz citizens, including a woman, were arrested. Four more people, who law enforcers say are in Istanbul, were also placed on the wanted list. Kyrgyzstan petitioned their Turkish colleagues to arrest the suspected individuals.
Regional co-operation to counter extremism
"Security forces fighting terrorism need to be proactive, considering that international terrorist organisation members are targeting Central Asia," Abdyrakhman Mamataliyev, former vice prime minister for security affairs, said during a press conference in Bishkek September 7.
Recent events in Kyrgyzstan bear witness to the fact that members of international terrorist organisations are very closely connected and are trying to turn countries against each other by carrying out terror attacks in diplomatic offices, he said.
"The only thing I can say is that our law enforcers are working very vigorously," Mamataliyev said. "They need to prevent attacks, and to accomplish that, special services should co-operate with colleagues from neighbouring countries -- it will make their work much more effective."
Clergy support changes in education system
Kyrgyzstan's Concept for State Religious Policy 2014-2020 takes a new approach regarding the relations between the state and religious organisations, President Almazbek Atambayev said at the International Scientific and Practical Conference on International Co-operation to Counter the Activities of Terrorist and Extremist Organisations in the Context of Modern Communication Technologies June 16 in Issyk-Kul.
"Kyrgyzstan has a clear understanding that force alone will not solve the problem of extremism and terrorism," Atambayev said. "However, it must be recognised that in recent years our special services, both by themselves and by co-operation with foreign colleagues, have prevented a number of terror attacks and acts of sabotage in our country."
"It is incredibly important for us that our country sets an example in its search for new ways to work with the public, and also exemplifies positive co-operation with religious leaders to achieve the shared goals of stable secular development," he said.
In this regard, changes in the educational system counter hostility, violence and intolerance, according to the Department of Ethnic and Religious Policies and Civic Society Outreach. One if these changes was the introduction of a class on the foundations of religious culture into public school curriculum.
"Support from the clergy in providing better education on hanafi jurisprudence, to which Kyrgyzstan has traditionally adhered, is an important change," the Department of Ethnic and Religious Policies and Civil Society Outreach reported. "A special scholarship programme was also announced for those who show the desire to study and support state religious policies."