Suspected Kyrgyz terrorist nabbed in Bishkek

By Sanzhar Sharipov

Kyrgyz clerics confer with soldiers in Kara-Kul, Jalal-Abad Province,  September 21. [Sanzhar Sharipov]

Kyrgyz clerics confer with soldiers in Kara-Kul, Jalal-Abad Province,  September 21. [Sanzhar Sharipov]

BISHKEK -- A suspected Kyrgyz terrorist is sitting in jail after police arrested him in Bishkek September 13.

In custody is N. Kh., 35, of Osh. He was involved in the August 30 suicide bombing of an embassy in Bishkek, State National Security Committee (GKNB) spokesman Ulanbek Jalildinov told Caravanserai.

Three Kyrgyz were injured in the bombing.

N. Kh. was one of nine plotters of the attack, Jalildinov said. The detainee also belonged to the banned Jannat Oshiqlari terrorist group, police say.

Police have made three arrests so far in the case.

Kyrgyz authorities are accusing ethnic Uighur terrorist groups in Syria with ties to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syrian wing, of masterminding the bombing.

Culprits in the attack include the ringleader of the terrorist group Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, Abu Saloh, Kyrgyz authorities say. Saloh, 26, was born Sirojiddin Mukhtarov in Kara-Suu District, Osh Province. He is presently said to be fighting in Syria. Kyrgyz police accuse Saloh of ordering and paying for the attack.

"Izzotillo Sattybayev, who received terrorist training in Syria, was involved too," Jalildinov said. "He helped the suicide bomber."

Sattybayev is said to be in Turkey.

Jalildinov identified the dead bomber as a 33-year-old Uighur who had a Tajik citizen's passport on his person.

The bomber "was a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement in Syria", Jalildinov said.

Law enforcement found 96 pro-Abu Saloh audio and video files on N. Kh's cellphone and tablet computer, Interior Ministry (MVD) investigator Sagynbek Ismailov told Caravanserai.

Abu Saloh/Mukhtarov's own insurgent army in Syria "has about 200 members", Ismailov said.

Public awareness defeats terrorism

Public vigilance is crucial in fighting terrorism, Ismailov said, pointing to a watchful civilian's intervention in Bishkek September 20. It prevented another tragedy.

"That evening, a citizen dialed 102, the emergency number, to report suspicious black packages at an intersection," Ismailov said. "A rapid response team ... found two IEDs [improvised explosive devices]."

Security personnel neutralised both bombs with water cannons.

The bombing of the embassy, the arrests afterward and the discovery of the IEDs show the genuine threats that Kyrgyzstan encounters, Bishkek Humanities University history and social sciences instructor Ainagul Toktoraliyeva told Caravanserai.

"Militants are suffering losses in Syria," she said. "They're trying to get attention ... by staging explosions here. Some Muslims might try to help them find young and jobless Kyrgyz in a new recruiting drive."

The government should keep looking for new ways to fight extremism and to involve alert citizens, she said.

"Public prevention will help fight an evil like terrorism," Bekten haji Kerezbayev, an imam-khatib from Kara-Kul city, Jalal-Abad Province, told Caravanserai. "Local governments that do outreach work with the faithful provide substantial help in that regard."

Concerned parties need to pay great attention to the vulnerable younger generation, Kerezbayev said, citing the need to satisfy children's curiosity about religion with reliable information.

"We need to raise the awareness of enlisted troops and officers," Kerezbayev said. "Our primary mission is to drive home the negative aspects of so-called 'jihad'."

The extensive outreach of the past few years by clerics, officials and others has had a positive effect, he said, adding that fewer and fewer Kyrgyz are making common cause with extremism.

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