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Purely Kazakh terror?
Written by Вагит Исмаилов   
Четверг, 17 Март 2011
Religious extremism in Kazakhstan has always been present to a certain extent. As a geographic neighbor to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and in close proximity to Afghanistan, Kazakhstan is unable to remain above the fray as far as the extremist processes taking place with its neighbors. It is no secret that religious extremism has been gaining popularity in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has constantly tried to wear the mantle as the arbiter of Central Asia, but its title as a regional mediator has not always been justified. Here and there, with enviable regularity, reports are appearing in the press about the arrests of extremists, and the detention of persons distributing leaflets calling for the overthrow of the legitimate government and the establishment of a caliphate, among other things.
Many analysts suggest that Kazakhstan’s excellent track record with regards to terror is only because it is a transit area for militants, acting as sort of a springboard.
The perception is that religious extremists take their rest and rehabilitation, and it has been said that they transit Kazakhstan on their way from “hot spots” to other places in which they carry out their next campaign, or terrorist attack. It is interesting that Kazakhstan has detained militants from a large number of diverse terrorist organizations.
Perhaps the largest operation to arrest and eliminate extremists in Kazakhstan was the destruction of four Uighur militants in Almaty in August 2000. Two policemen had been killed a few days before the operation, and the militants were barricaded inside an apartment located in the region of Satpayev and Furmanov streets. This was the first time in the history of an independent Kazakhstan that security forces made use of armored vehicles in civil operations.
Last year a case in western Kazakhstan could also have become a major anti-extremist operation. There was a large-scale jailbreak from a prison in the Mangistau region, and there were reports that the escapees and their accomplices were all Wahhabis. Officials rushed to refute such speculation, but it was common to see reports in the Kazakh press that almost all of the escapees were followers of this religious movement, and that during the incident some allegedly blew themselves up in a car, with shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” Details about individual prisoners showed that all were adherents of radical Islam.
In other words, extremism exists in Kazakhstan, and in every color and hue. It is only because of certain objective factors that our counter-terrorism measures seem to be more effective than those of our neighbors.
More and more young men and women are joining the ranks of the religious extremists in Kazakhstan, however, and they do so for the very same reasons as they do in other regions: dissatisfaction with the quality of life, mass disorder, urbanization, which results in youth being marginalized and written off. In Dagestan, by the way, terror attacks are prepared and carried out by very young terrorists.
Many media outlets recently reported that the Kazakhstan Ministry of Internal Affairs asked its Moscow colleagues for help in tracking a member of the ‘Al-Salyafi’ radical movement. The perpetrator is Vadim Badanshin, 24 years of age and, according to the Interior Ministry, a brutal murderer and the organizer of a banned religious movement. He is sought by Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kazakhstan Republic, and may be hiding somewhere in the Moscow region where he is known in militant circles by the nickname ‘Vado’, and using a passport in the name of Umar Ilurzayev. He is thought to be responsible for at least four murders.
The police do not rule out that Badanshin may eventually show up in one of the North Caucasus republics, where his organization continues to operate, and it is presumed that he will transit through the Moscow region.
Many analysts view this through the prism of an incident that took place in Makhachkala, Dagestan on February 9th of this year, when two young men from the Kazakh city Aktobe were detained: Albert Abdykarimov and Raiymbek Yerzhanov, both age 20. A few days later two of their accomplices were also arrested. It is likely that this group traveled from Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation in order to plan and carry out a terrorist attack on an oil derrick.
Recall that security forces arrested Abdykarimov and Yerzhanov after blocking off a five-story apartment building on Imam Shamil Prospect, where, according to intelligence, several militants from illegal armed gangs were holed up. Negotiations for their surrender went on for several hours, and finally ended in success. The arrested militants were found with an improvised explosive device with a capacity of 500 grams of TNT. Criminal charges with respect to this were initiated under Article 208 of the Criminal Code (participation in illegal armed groups) and Article 223 (manufacture of weapons or explosive devices). At the same time, competent authorities in Kazakhstan and Russia established contacts to verify information on the possible participation of Kazakh citizens in the commission of unlawful acts on the territory of Dagestan. Following this event we now receive a report that the Kazakh authorities are asking for Russian assistance in tracing Vadim Badanshin. Could this mean that the Russian-Kazakh connection is starting to go into action?
By the way, many analysts assert that the incident with the militant group from Kazakhstan may have been a provocation in order undermining the image of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, before the upcoming presidential elections. These views, however, are still speculation.
By Vagit Ismailov, in ‘Freedom of Speech’ #8, March 3rd, 2011

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