Kazakh woman evacuated from Syria gets 5 years in prison


AKTOBE, Kazakhstan -- An Aktobe court sentenced a woman who returned from Syria to five years in prison, Fergana News reported last Friday (July 26).

Zarina Akmalayeva, 29, is the first Kazakh woman ever to be imprisoned for promoting terrorism and inciting religious strife.

Kazakh forces evacuated Akmalayeva in May as part of Operation Jusan (Bitter Wormwood), which saw the mass repatriation of radicalised Kazakhs and their dependents who were trapped in Syria after the collapse of "Islamic State" (IS).

Some 231 Kazakhs returned in May and 47 in January.

The May evacuees included Akmalayeva and her two daughters, one of whom was born in Syria.

Akmalayeva travelled to Syria independently, not as a militant's wife. She became radicalised in Kazakhstan and journeyed to Syria in 2014 with her first daughter and younger sister.

From Syria, she sent her mother several video and audio files urging her to wage "jihad". The files had pro-terrorist content, according to analysis by authorities.

Akmalayeva confessed her guilt and expressed remorse.

Authorities are determining where to place her daughters. Her sister's whereabouts are unknown.

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