Kyrgyzstan combats followers of non-traditional Islamic movements

By Erkin Kamalov


Police officers find extremist literature on followers of non-traditional Islamic movements in Karakol, Issyk-Kul Province, September 28. [Kyrgyz GKNB photo obtained by Erkin Kamalov]

BISHKEK -- Security forces' and human rights defenders' joint efforts to fight extremism and terrorism - special operations and public awareness campaigns across the country - are bringing positive results, officials said.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, during a meeting with the chairman of the Kyrgyz National Security Committee (GKNB), Abdil Segizbayev, in Bishkek October 5, stressed about the necessity of ensuring the country’s security – and further improving counterterrorism measures.

"Modern challenges and threats require security agencies to take adequate measures to increase the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism, religious extremism, and other crimes aimed against the country and its citizens," said the president.

Fighting banned terrorist organisations

According to Rakhat Sulaimanov, a spokesman for the GKNB, during joint operations of intelligence officers and the police September 28 in the city of Karakol, in Issyk-Kul Province, was suppressed the activity of a banned Hizb ut-Tahrir underground cell.

Among the detained were local residents M.O. and A.R., who were spreading ideas about building a 'caliphate' and toppling the constitutional order among people in the province's capital, Sulaimanov told Caravanserai.

Police seized a number of religious books, brochures, magazines, leaflets, and DVD's from detainees, he said.

"We have filed and are investigating criminal charges in response to illegal activity on the part of Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation members," he said.

Police finds more ties to Hizb ut-Tahrir

Two weeks ago, law enforcement officials in Osh detained H.N., a 36-year-old entrepreneur who also worked for a community foundation at the same time, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) public affairs office said in a statement.

"He is suspected of disseminating ideas and literature from a banned extremist organisation. As an entrepreneur, he created an environment at his workplace for increasing the distribution of Hizb ut-Tahrir organisational brochures and leaflets," MVD spokesman Zamir Sydykov told Caravanserai.

He said that H.N. opened his own shop, offering computerised services and at the same time, was making copies of banned leaflets.

"While inspecting his workplace, we found and confiscated one laptop, flash drives, 14 DVDs, a Nokia 6303 cell phone, leaflets from the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation, and two books containing this organisation's ideas," Sydykov said.

He said police also found several passports, birth certificates, stamps from various organisations, and 22 blank sheets that had different organisations' stamps on them. The suspect has been remanded to a temporary holding facility at the Osh MVD office, Sydykov said, adding that investigation is underway.

Awareness campaigns raise citizens' consciousness

Awareness raising work among the public is having a positive effect on peoples' consciousness, who are maintaining vigilance or reporting on those who might be complicit in radical movements.

"At one of Osh's markets September 15, a certain man, introducing himself as Khamidullo, handed a DVD that contained extremist material to a 22-year-old Z.O.," local human rights defender Iskander Mamatov told Caravanserai.

According to him, Z.O. immediately turned to the police community liaison office, and voluntarily handed over the disk with electronic versions of books entitled "Al-Vai" and "Halifalik", which espouse the ideas of the banned organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Mamatov said, police is now working with witnesses to identify a man who spread these materials.

Engaging youth in anti-extremism activities

Jazgul Ibraimova, a specialist at the Institute for Youth Development (Bishkek), said their organisation works a lot with youth leaders across the country.

"Religious networks, criminal groups, and political structures do the most effective work out in the provinces. They are exactly what forms those values that youth adhere to," she said September 27 in Bishkek at a roundtable devoted to the topic "Moral and spiritual values as an instrument to combat the involvement of youth in religious extremist activity".

According to Ibraimova, it is necessary to have a constructive dialogue with youth leaders on topics that are the most relevant and concern them.

"I think that the model whereby we place our bet on their development will be attractive to them. We need to promote the values of education, skills on working with information, and personal growth," she said.

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