Arrests of IS suspects in Kazakhstan show that group is still active

By Anna Karr

National Security Committee (KNB) officers March 13 in Almaty detain an accused IS supporter suspected of preparing a mass attack. [KNB]

National Security Committee (KNB) officers March 13 in Almaty detain an accused IS supporter suspected of preparing a mass attack. [KNB]

ALMATY -- The recent arrests of followers of the "Islamic State" (IS) in Kazakhstan signal that the group remains active in the country even as the militant outfit has been weakened overall, terrorism analysts say.

The National Security Committee (KNB) said in a March 15 statement that it had detained a supporter of IS.

The suspect, who was arrested on March 13, is accused of preparing for a terrorist attack during the celebration of Nawruz, the KNB said in a statement.

"During the course of the investigation, two grenades were seized from the suspect's residence," the KNB said.

Shown is ammunition that the KNB seized while detaining a terror suspect on March 13 in Almaty. [KNB]

Shown is ammunition that the KNB seized while detaining a terror suspect on March 13 in Almaty. [KNB]

The man faces charges of plotting and financing terrorism, said the statement.

Earlier in January, the KNB detained another five suspected IS followers in Taraz and Karaganda. They are accused of leading a terrorist group, distributing terrorist propaganda and plotting terrorist attacks.

Swapping strategies

These arrests show that IS's activity in the country has not been completely disrupted even though IS overall has been undermined greatly, according to Askar Kajiogly, a Shymkent scholar of deradicalisation and religious studies.

In fact, because IS has lost strength, the group has switched to guerrilla warfare, which the outfit used when it began its activity, Kajiogly said.

IS followers "are dispersing across countries and beginning to carry out subversive activities there", he said.

They are "recruiting, distributing extremist literature and setting up ammunition dumps" while finding illegal ways to finance their activities, he said.

Because Kazakhstan sits in the heart of Eurasia, the country is an attractive area for IS recruiters; therefore, the activity of this group's underground cells in Kazakhstan might intensify, Kajiogly said.

IS as a centralised organisation might be shattered, but its tentacles still have a long reach, agreed Asylbek Izbairov, director of the Institute of Geopolitical Research in Nur-Sultan.

"For example, Daesh is actively operating in Afghanistan," he said, using another name for the terror group.

"It managed to create Wilayat Khorasan," he said, referring to IS-K, IS's Khorasan branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "We must understand that its thinking has not yet been completely eradicated. Clandestine Daesh groups continue to operate in Western countries."

Group followers are being activated around the world and will try to commit terrorist acts, he added.

The tenacity of brainwashing

"The problem still lies in people's loyalty to the IS ideology [of takfrirism]," said Almaty resident Yerlan Dosmagambetov, a graduate student in religious studies at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty.

"And this ideology is the foundation where followers of a terrorist organisation sprout," he added.

They "abandon these views very reluctantly because they [those views] are based on the belief that they are taking the correct path and for a great purpose. It may take years of painstaking work by highly qualified specialists to deprogramme someone."

And as long as this ideology is alive in zealots, they will fall under the influence of IS recruiters, carry out terrorist attacks and follow any instructions they receive, Dosmagambetov said.

"Above all, it is necessary to win the war over this ideology," he said.

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12 Comment(s)

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And ISIL needs to be cleared out of Kyrgyzstan, too


They make money on that, and know perfectly well that killing is a sin, and that they can be killed as well. They don't care about their mothers, fathers, and the children that they leave behind. They have betrayed their people


Repeal life imprisonment, and introduce the death penalty - why waste budget money on them?


It is necessary to apply strict measures against them


That's where the leadership has driven the country by being lenient and supporting proselytizers among the Kazakh population. They should not be imprisoned because they start becoming much more active inside. If we can't kill them, we need to expel them to Arab countries!


And they should never be locked up in prison. They recruit supporters there. Only capital punishment!


Any ISIL member should get the maximum sentence. Capital punishment is the best option. They will never turn into human beings, and hoping that they will get better is stupid.


I don't think the people joining the ranks of ISIL are so dumb they don't understand it. When they get caught, they begin to think up different excuses.


Institute capital punishment


That's right, they will never go down the path toward bettering themselves. That's how brainwashed they are with the hogwash ideas of extremists.


Yes, you are thinking along the right lines. They are incurable, and should just be shot.


Yes. We should prick up our ears. Who knows what else these bastards are capable of!!!