Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) No. 66, 28 March 2013

By Gordon M. Hahn, Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

CONTENTS:

RUSSIA

  • First Suicide Bombing of 2013 in Russia Occurs in Khasavyurt, Dagestan
  • Caucasus Emirate/North Caucasus and IMU/Central Asia in the Global Jihad
  • Petersburg Police Detain 300 Muslims, Arrest 1, Deport 6: Is There a Jihadist ‘Petersburg Jamaat’?
  • Alleged Global Jihadi Training Camp and Recruiters from Uzbekistan Uncovered Near Moscow
  • The Caucasus Emirate’s Territorial Vision

CENTRAL ASIA

  • Kazakh Islamist’s Correspondence with Sheikh Shankiti Published on Caucasus Emirate Websites
  • Uzbekistan Intelligence Reports IMU Filtering Back Into Central Asia from AfPak
  • S. Government’s Position on Islamist Militant Threat in Central Asia
  • Three Sentenced for Planning Attack on Vodka Plant in Kazakhstan
  • Extremism a Concern in Kyrgyz Prisons
  • Leader of Islamic Party of Turkestan Detained in Moscow

Announcements

  • Recent Publications, Presentations, and Interviews

* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Yelena Altman, Nicole Labun, Anna Nevo, Daniel Painter, Elizabeth Wolcott, Jerry Davydov, Kevin Butts, Michelle Enriquez, Evan Vandershaaf,, Aleksandr Vlasenko, and Olga Volcsko.  IIPER accepts outside submissions.

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RUSSIA

First Suicide Bombing of 2013 in Russia Occurs in Khasavyurt, Dagestan

On February 14th a suicide bomber detonated his weapon inside a car he was driving as police stopped him in Khasavyurt, Dagestan, killing four police and wounding six.  The same day police tracked down a group of mujahedin said to be behind the attack and killed all six.  One MVD trooper received a fatal wound (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/220169/).  This was the first suicide bombing in Russia in 2013 and the 47th since the formation of the Caucasus Emirate jihadi organization in October 2007.  There were 2 in 2008, 16 in 2009, 14 in 2010, 6 in 2011, and 8 in 2012.

The date of this most recent suicide attack, February 14th, may be significant.  As detailed in IIPER, it was on February 14th, 2011 that the ethnic Russian Islamic convert couple of Vitalii Razdobud’ko and Marina Khorosheva killed themselves in separate suicide bombings in Gubden, Dagestan.  The Caucasus Emirate’s (CE) Dagestani network, the Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV), has led in the practice of suicide bombing since 2010, when its ten amir and CE qadi Seifullah Gubdenskii Magomed Vagabov, himself hailing from Gubden, established the tactic among the DV’s mujahedin.  Vagabov also organized the March 2010 double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system that killed some 40 and wounded more than 100.  In the wake of his death in August 2010, the DV carried forward this stactic by establishing the ‘Riyadus Salikhiin Jamaat’ modeled on the CE’s Riyadus Salikhiin Martyrs’ Brigade founded by the global jihadist and Al Qa`ida associate Ibn al-Khattab and the Chechen terrorist Shamil Basaev in the early 2000s and revived by CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov in 2008 as he announced in April 2009.  Thus, February’s attack appears to be the latest DV suicide operation.

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Caucasus Emirate/North Caucasus and IMU/Central Asia in the Global Jihad

IIPER continues to follow the role of the North Caucasus, in particular the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin, in the global jihad.  IIPER readers already are familiar with North Caucasus/Caucasus Emirate (CE) groups fighting in Syria.  Recent events show they continue to be found among jihadist groups based in Waziristan and elsewhere in the AfPak region.

In Pakistan

Several North Caucasians were killed in the December 2012 attack on a Peshawar, Pakistan airbase carried out by Tehrek-i-Taliban (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban.  The report notes that 6 of the ten killed were tied to Al Qa`ida (AQ) or the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).  Of those six, three were Chechens, one was from Dagestan, one was Kyrgyz, and another was Uzbek.  Since it is likely that the Kyrgyz and Uzbek were from the IMU, it is likely that the North Caucasians were part of AQ, perhaps on loan from the CE mujahedin based in Russia’s North Caucasus.  The use of AQ, IMU, or perhaps Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) fighters is an indication, according to some analysts, of the TTP’s shortage of cadres and decline, according to Central Asia Online (Central Asia Online, http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/pakistan-articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2013/01/30/ feature-01).

It remained unclear whether the North Caucasians or Central Asians at any point were tied to the CE based in Russia’s North Caucasus.

This is not the first time Caucasus or Chechen mujahedin have been killed fighting in the AfPak theater.  In 2004, for example, a group of Chechens was reportedly killed in Swat (Indian Express, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/paks-maj-gen-amir-faisal-alvi-was-killed-by-let-police/458562).

In Syria

Abu Omar al-Checheni (al-Shishani), about whom IIPER has reported on earlier, was identified as the amir of the multinational jihadist ‘Mujahideen Brigade of Emigrants’ or ‘Kataib al-Muhajirin’ (KaM) fighting in Syria alongside the AQ-affiliated Jabkhat al-Nusrah (al-Nusrah Front or JaN).  On February 7th, the CE’s main website posted a video of al-Checheni issuing a statement in Russian with some 20 well-armed, for the most part masked mujahedin at his side from various parts of the world, as indicated by their dress (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/02/07/17333.shtml).  The introductory text to the video notes that KaM is one of the “most active units of Mujahideen fighting in Syria against the Alawite regime of Assad and Iranian mercenaries” and includes “volunteers from the Caucasus Emirate.”  However, it is unclear whether ‘Caucasus Emirate’ refers to the jihadi organization or the territory it claims in Russia’s North Caucasus (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/02/07/17333.shtml).  A February 22nd Kavkaz tsentr posting that reports on one of the units of the KaM brigade seems to indicate it is the latter.  It notes that, according to Kavkaz tsentr’s “special correspondent,” KaM includes “mujahedin from the Caucasus Emirate, Crimea, Russia, Ukraine, Tatarstan, several CIS countries, and Arabs.”  This KaM subunit of Caucasus mujahedin is led by amir Abdurrakhman.  It also notes that the Caucasus mujahedin captured Syrian soldiers or volunteers fighting for Bashir Assad’s regime in or around Aleppo and shows photographs of some ten prisoners as well as of the mujahedin in combat (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/22/96378.shtml).

Boasting a long red beard and some years, al-Checheni explains the KaM, noting that its goal is to fight jihad and establish Shariah law “on this land.”  Noting the importance of financing, he appeals for financial support for the mujahedin.  He then gives the floor to a mujahed sitting to his right, whom al-Checheni identifies as his naib Abu Musa and who speaks in Arabic about monotheism (tawhid), the obligation to fight jihad (fard a’in), and jihad.  Abu Musa’s statement is not translated, while Al-Checheni’s statement is translated from Russian to Arabic by a masked mujahed seated next to him.  The video ends with the mujahedin boisterously crying out ‘Allakhu Akbar!’ three times. (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/02/07/17333.shtml).

The Long War Journal’s Bill Roggio agrees that the KaM is carrying out joint operations and fighting alongside the JaN [The Long War Journal, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/chechen_commander_le.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+LongWarJournalSiteWide+(The+Long+War+Journal+(Site-Wide))].  Specifically, Roggio notes:

In October, a group of “Chechen emigrants” is known to have fought, along with an element from the Free Syrian Army unit, under the command of the Al Nusrah Front to take control of a key Syrian air defense and Scud missile base in Aleppo. The Long war Journal speculated at the time that the group included members of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate [see LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front commanded Free Syrian Army unit, ‘Chechen emigrants,’ in assault on Syrian air defense base].

The Muhajireen Group is known to have participated in two other major assaults against Syrian military bases since the October operation in Aleppo.

In mid-December, the Muhajireen Group teamed up with the Al Nusrah Front to overrun the Sheikh Suleiman base, or Base 111. Arab and Central Asian fighters are reported to have participated in the battle.

And last week, the Al Nusrah Front, together with the Tawhid Brigade and the Muhajireen Group, stormed the base of the Syrian military’s 80th Regiment (or Brigade), which is situated near the main airport in Aleppo in eastern Syria.

In recent months, IIPER also has reported on some of these operations in brief.

Abu Omar al-Chechen appeared to have been killed weeks after the abovementioned video emerged.  A video, 1 minute and 23 seconds in duration, apparently showed al-Chechen’s death or him shortly after death and was posted on Kavlaz tsentr on February 21st (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/21/96364.shtml).

Days later Hunafa.com, the website the Caucasus Emirate’s Ingushetiya network, the Galgaiche Vilaiyat (GV), posted an article written by Zelimkhan Merdzho (Merjo), a leading GV propagandist about the life of another Caucasus amir of a KaM subunit killed in battle in the Syrian city of Qasab (Kasab). It recalled several episodes from the life of Abdullah ‘As-Shishani’ Kartsinskii, sometimes called Daud.  He was born in the early 1970s in western Ingushetiya and was of the Khalukhaev teip.  He grew up as an orphan (“without parents”) and had a chidlhood that was “not easy.”  Karsinskii received military training serving in the Soviet army and then, apparently as a volunteer fighting for the Azerbaijanis, was wounded in the foot fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s (Hunafa.com, http://hunafa.com/?p=14078#more-14078 and Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/24/96420.shtml).  Readers will recall that the Al Qa`ida operative and Shamil Basaev also fought in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Kartsinskii “came to Islam” between the first and second post-Soviet Chechen wars (1997-99) and joined the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya (ChRI) mujahedin at the beginning of the second war.  In summer 2000 he led a small group of “young Muslims” from western Ingushetita to join a combat jamaat.  Kartsinskii “loved Allah’s Book,” spent time “reading and learning the Koran,” and came to be “strongly concerned about the situation of the Umma.”  He often turned out to be one of the most militarily experienced among mujahedin he was fighting with and thus came to command several units.  He devoted much time to studying and teaching military strategy and tactics, but he had some shortcomings, according to Merdzho, including being difficult to live with.  In the early 2000s Kartsinskii teamed up with the infamous Ingush mujahed and amir Ilkhas Khanif Gorchkhanov and jointly “planned and carried out a considerable number of operations.”  In 2004 he was arrested and imprisoned for several years, and when he was released under unidentified circumstances, he returned to jihad.  According to Merdzho, the mujahedin in Syria report that Kartsinskii planned the operation in which he was killed when he stepped on a mine planted by pro-Assad forces (Hunafa.com, http://hunafa.com/?p=14078#more-14078 and Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/24/96420.shtml).

It appears that Kartsinskii was the ‘al-Shishani’ dying in the aforementioned video and not KaM’s amir Omar al-Shishani.  Indeed, amir Omar is said to have received the bayat or loyalty oath from two Syrian rebel units, ‘Khattab’ and ‘Jeish Muhammad’, that joined KaM, according to a Kavkaz tsentr posting in late March.  The two jamaats ‘Jeish Mukhammad’ and ‘Kataib Khattab’ include some 600 fighters, according to Kavkaz tsentr, and KaM was renamed as a result of the merger, now titled ‘Jeish Mukhajirin va Ansar’ (the JMA or Army of Emirants and Helpers) (Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/03/22/96932.shtml).  In a later posting that includes several videos, Kavkaz tsentr, reports that al-Shishani’s JMA now numbers more than one thousand jihadi militants.  The videos show several amirs – featured in several is one ‘amir Seifullah’ – and mujahedin taking the bayat.  One video shows the Caucasus mujahedin in the military base of Handarat around Aleppo where the Caucasus mujahedin have been concentrated (www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/03/26/97014.shtml).

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St. Petersburg Police Detain 300 Muslims, Arrest 1, Deport 6: Is There a Jihadist ‘Petersburg Jamaat’?

It appears an independent radical Islamist or jihadist jamaat, perhaps tied to the Caucasus Emirate (CE) mujahedin, may be emerging in Russia’s northern capitol, St. Petersburg.  On February 8th St. Petersburg MVD police, SpetsNaz forces and FSB personnel raided a Muslim apartment prayer room near Apraksin Dvor and arrested nearly 300 Muslims and immigrants.  The operation was prompted, according to authorities, by extremist statements and videos posted on the Internet by some attending the Islamic prayer room, including videotapes of terrorist attacks and declarations of Caucasus Emirate amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov and the deceased CE operative and propagandist Said Abu Saad Buryatskii (born Aleksandr Tikhomirov).  The police waited until prayers concluded, allowed the detainees to file out one at a time, and then brought them to police headquarters for questioning.  As of February 12, one detainee had been brought up on charges of proselytizing extremism, and six were deported for being in Russia illegally (www.kommersant.ru/doc/2124762; http://www.fontanka.ru/2013/02/08/196/; and http://www.fontanka.ru/2013/02/08/197/).

Ten days after the incident, the pro-jihadist, Caucasus Emirate-affiliated website Umma News and the CE’s main site Kavkaz tsentr posted the text of an “appeal” it says it received from “activists of the Petersburg jamaat”, which addresses the “’operation’ carried out by the bandits of the FSB and MVD” (http://ummanews.com/news/russia/9932-2013-02-17-15-55-21.html and http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/18/96292.shtml).  The appeal asks Muslims how many more similar actions they need before they “understand their hatred for your religion” and claims that not one of the detained had anything to do with the Petersburg Jamaat.  It also specifies that “the so-called ‘Petersburg Jamaat’ is only a conditional territorial term” and that “from the moment of publication of this statement any sincere believing Muslim, who helps or acts in the name of Allah, can use this designation.”  Closing with a threat, the appeal warns: “Enough sitting out our obligations.  With each year our numbers grow.  Allah willing, the time will come when the infidels will get a worthy answer for their actions on ‘their’ (for now their!) territory.  Then after each raid against Muslims their special technology will be exploded, and departments burn with a bright flame. These very same pigs in masks and epaulettes will be killed by a young generation of believers, who do not agree to the role of the ‘moderates’ (more accurately, the humiliated).  The time is coming when the word of our fraternal mujahedin of the Caucasus Emirate about the fact that ‘our Russian brothers will meet the enemies of Allah in their homes’ will be implemented.  We will win only with Allah’s help. Vistory or Death” (http://ummanews.com/news/russia/9932-2013-02-17-15-55-21.html and http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/18/96292.shtml).

The appeal is signed by someone identifying himself as “Yakhya of the Petersburg Jamaat.”  If such a group exists, this would represent the first radical Islamist or jihadist jamaat to appear in St. Petersburg and so far north.  If the text’s threat is to be believed, the Peterburg Jamaat appears poised to undertake terrorist attacks in Russia’s ‘northern capitol.’  Such a strategy or diversionary threat might be intended to distract security forces’ attention and resources away from another target in the CE mujahedin’s scope: the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

On February 10th the state-run Rossiya (Russia) television channel included a detailed discussion/debate on the St. Petersburg raid during its weekly Sunday talk show ‘Sunday Night with Vladimir Soloviev’.  The discussion/debate revolved around the issues of Russian-Muslim relations, state-Muslim relations, and immigration policy.  Cochairman/Mufti of the Council of Muftis of Russia Nafigulla Ashirov, journalist and North Caucasus expert Maksim Shevchenko, and Muslim ethnic Tatar Head of the Migrant Workers’ Union represented the Islamic and immigrant point of view.  The historian, political scientist, and Novaya Sila (New Force) party leader Vadim Soloviev and State Duma Deputy and Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) Chairman Aleksei Zhuravlev represented the Russian nationalist point of view.  The United Russia party member and Governor of Tula Oblast Vladimir Gvuzdev, the First Deputy Chief of the Russian MVD’s Administration for Counteracting Extremism Igor Morozov, and Center for Immigration Research Dmitrii Poletaev adopted a middle position (http://russia.tv/video/show/brand_id/21385/video_id/246303).

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Alleged Global Jihadi Training Camp and Recruiters from Uzbekistan Uncovered Near Moscow

On February 19th, Russian media reported the arrest of two citizens of Uzbekistan for attempting to recruit Muslims to recruit mujahedin, according to an international arrest warrant.  According to the report, the two Uzbeks had recruited, trained in a Moscow Oblast traning camp, and sent more than fifty Muslims to the AfPak region to fight jihad.  A search of the camp found technology for producing literature, a large number of mobile telephones, instructions for hand-to-hand combat training, and extremist religious literature (Moscow 24,   http://www.m24.ru/videos/12330?from=smi2).

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The Caucasus Emirate’s Territorial Vision

The Caucasus Emirate (CE) mujahedin seem to be making some new territorial claims, and a new map is circulating among them that indicates a new or at least alternate vision of the territorial-administrative division of territories within their hoped-for Islamist CE state.  First, a recent video includes footage of Ibragim Khalil Daudov, then amir of the CE’s Dagestani network, the Dagestan Vilaiyat, announcing his sending amir Busra Zakatalinskii to Azerbaijan to organize the series of attacks in Azerbaijan including on the Eurovision music festival interdicted by Azerbaijani security forces in 2012.  The video refers to the “Azerbaijan Vilaiyat, Imarat Kavkaz” (YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R4T_Nlm8_R0).

This makes more official the CE’s claim on Azerbaijan as its territory as implicitly indicated in a map frequently used by on CE websites showing all territory of Russia to the north and the Transcaucasus to the south as “occupied Muslim territory.”

In another video posted on YouTube, the CE’s vision of the North Caucasus under its rule depicts a different division of administrative-territorial units or ‘vilaiyats’ than usually depicted in the map most frequently used, as noted above.  This new map shows 7 vilaiyats in the future CE: Adygeya Vilaiyat (including ‘Circassiya’ or most of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai and its enclave, the Republic of Adygeya); Kabardiya Vilaiyat (which includes what appears to be the largely Kabardin-populated areas of Russia’s Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya and the Cherkess-populated parts of Russia’s Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya); Taulistan Vilaiyat (which includes the southern parts of the just previously mentioned republics populated by ethnically close Balkars and Karachais; Dagestan Vilaiyat (Russia’s Republic of Dagestan with some northern territory pared off and given to another vilaiyat); the Nogai Vilaiyat (which includes most of Stavropol and parts of Dagestan); the Nokchicho Vilaiyat which includes Chechnya and parts of Dagestan and perhaps of parts of Ingushetiya, and Galgaiche Viliayat (most of Russia’s Republic of Ingushetiya) (YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=jfYtRJRGtlA).  This map’s major difference with the usually published map is that it divides the usually appearing United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya and Karachai into the Vilaiyats of Taulistan, of Kabardiya, and of Adygeya in an effort to give each of the Circassian ethnic groups their own vilaiyat.

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CENTRAL ASIA

Kazakh Islamist’s Correspondence with Sheikh Shankiti Published on Caucasus Emirate Websites

In late February, the website of the Caucasus Emirate’s (CE) United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya, and Karachai (OVKBK), the CE’s network in Russia’s republics of Kabardino-Balkariya and Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, carried a correspondence between a radical Islamist from Kazakhstan identifying himself as Abu Hamza and the radical jihadi philosopher Sheikh Abul Munzir ash-Shankiti (al-Shankiti) (Islamdin.biz, http://www.islamdin.biz/2013/02/blog-post_10.html and Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/24/96424.shtml).  The Kazakh Abu Hamza asks Shankiti to issue a decision about his circumstances and obligations to assist jihad.  Specifically, given that the Kazkahstani authorities banned him from proselytizing Islam for a year and a half and that the secret services are observing his activity, does he have the right to abandon this activity?  Also, is it forbidden to abandon relations with a certain brothers who is being watched by the special services and is under threat of arrest, given the threat that he himself could get a long prison sentence for contacting him?  Third, can he agree to inform on Muslims on behalf of the authorities as a deception in which he would actually work as a double agent informing radical Muslims about the special services’ activities?  Shankiti rules that although helping spread the Islamic faith is an obligation, Abu Hamza can temporarily suspend proselytizing and meeting with his friend given his circumstances, but he should insist on acting as a spy for the authorities, since he would be required to give some information on Muslims in order to secure the authorities’ trust (Islamdin.biz, http://www.islamdin.biz/2013/02/blog-post_10.html and Kavkaz tsentr, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2013/02/24/96424.shtml).

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Uzbekistan Intelligence Reports IMU Filtering Back Into Central Asia from AfPak

          A former officer and expert of Uzbek law enforcement told Uzbek media in early March that Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) forces are returning to Central Asia from the AfPak region where they have found refuge and train with Al Qa`ida-tied and Taliban-tied groups.  The source claimed that “(i)nstability in the Ferghana Valley and along the Kyrgyz and Uzbek borders” stemmed from “an upsurge in terrorist activity in the region”, presumably a result of the IMU fighters return.  The source cited the recent arrests of IMU fighters in Tajikistan as evidence.  The report also noted the source saying that the IMU was strengthening its ties to Dagestani, Chechen and Uighur mujahedin (Interfax-Religion, http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=10323).

It was unclear from the report whether this flow of fighters back to the region represented something beyond the annual springtime return of some IMU to the region.

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U.S. Government’s Position on Islamist Militant Threat in Central Asia

By Nicole Labun

On February 27th, Robert Blake Jr., the Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, regarding the Islamist militant threat in Eurasia and U.S. relations with the Central Asian republics.[1]

In recent months, scholars and officials have discussed what the effects of the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan will have on the security situation in the Central Asian republics. Some have raised concerns that there will be an increase in instability and growth in violent extremism, particularly in areas such as the Ferghana Valley, once NATO and ISAF forces leave the region.[2]

Blake stated that the U.S. Government (USG) does “not assess that there is an imminent Islamist militant threat to the Central Asian states” however, “this is no time for complacency or retreat.” In the 2012, the USG gave $215 million to the Central Asian republics for “security assistance” for use on issues like terrorism and narcotics trafficking. It is clear that the Central Asian republics need to continue to improve their stability and security in order to prevent the spread of militant Islamism in the region. There are numerous ways to address these challenges, but fundamental to this process is continued development in these countries by strengthening the economies of the republics, working to prevent human rights violations and promote democratic reforms.[3]

Blake acknowledged that the radicalization of Central Asia would be a concern to U.S. interests in the region. Aware of this, the USG will seek to maintain their relations with the republics. Annually, the United States holds consultations with each Central Asian country and also engages in multilateral programs that work to strengthen the Central Asia republics.[4] He also added that the USG will continue to encourage the governments of Central Asia to improve the stability of the region through the institutionalization of democratic reforms. [5]

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Three Sentenced for Planning Attack on Vodka Plant in Kazakhstan

By Nicole Labun

In April 2012, Kazakh Muslims became outraged over the blasphemous Baiterek vodka bottles produced by GEOM. These bottles were labeled “Allah” and carried the slogan, “Allah’s strength is enough for everybody.” This was especially insulting to Muslims, whose beliefs forbid the consumption of alcohol.[6] After such a vehement reaction to the new product, GEOM apologized and promised to remove the item from the shelves. Additionally, the Muslim leaders pleaded with the Muslim community not to take action. Nevertheless, despite their exhortations, on February 19, Kazakh security services exposed a plot to blow up the vodka plant in the city of Aktobe. Three Kazakh men were arrested and imprisoned for planning the attack. Salamat Akhet, 17, received two years in prison and Nursultan Tenizbayev and Arslan Zhakabayev, both 18, received a five-year sentence for “promoting terrorism.”[7]

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Extremism a Concern in Kyrgyz Prisons

By Nicole Labun

Kyrgyz officials have acknowledged Kyrgyz prisons are increasingly becoming a breeding ground for extremism and are working to decrease the extremist influence in the penal system. According to Emil Jeenbekov, the Head of the Krygyz Interior Ministry, the youth population in the prisons is most susceptible to extremist recruitment.[8] The young convicts usually lack strong ideological beliefs, making them easily exploitable and a good target for extremist recruiters.[9] Additionally, the fact that the majority of prisoners have no activities or work to occupy them during the day creates an opportunity for them to turn to extremism as an outlet while they serve their sentence. Jeenbekov suggested that in order to curb this issue, prisoners who have been identified as religious-extremists, should be housed separately and not allowed to interact with other prisoners. The Krygyz Interior Ministry stated that if they get financial support from organizations such as Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), they would plan to build a separate facility specifically for that purpose beginning in 2013.

For years now, there have been concerns about extremism recruitment in prisons of former Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR). Once an extremist is imprisoned, they can begin the process of recruiting new members. In Krygyzstan, there has been an increase in the number of mosques and preachers in the prisons. Kapar Mukeyev, the head of the penal system in 2009, admitted he tried to reduce the number of mosques in the prison system, but failed to do so because the religious leaders within the prison system threatened to ‘organize disorder among the prisoners.[10]’ The Kyrgyz prison works to rehabilitate extremists in the prison system with the hopes they will not return to a life of extremism when they are released. While in prison, extremists are rehabilitated in various ways including educating them about the consequences of extremism and by providing access to psychologists and specialists. Reports indicate they have seen reasonable success with this rehabilitation program; however, estimates show that recidivism rates of extremists often reach 20%.[11] As of January 2012, 9,800 people were imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz penal system has been plagued by inadequate facilities, prisoner overcrowding, unqualified and properly trained prison staff, and insufficient funding. To address these challenges, organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have created projects to assist the Kyrgyz Government in reforming their penal system.[12]

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Leader of Islamic Party of Turkestan Detained in Moscow

By Nicole Labun

Abduhofiz Xolmurodov, the suspected leader of the Moscow cell of the Islamic Party of Turkestan (IPT), was detained in Moscow on March 1, 2013. Xolmurodov, an Uzbek national, was on an international wanted list for his involvement in a religious-extremist organization that is banned under the Uzbek Criminal Code. Xolmurodov is currently being held in Russia; however, it is expected he will be extradited to Uzbekistan.

The Islamic Party of Turkestan, formally known as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is heavily involved in militant recruitment. The Moscow cell, which Xolmurodov led, was responsible for recruiting militants in the Moscow Oblast and Central Asian republics and assisting in their transfer to training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East.[13] It is believed that in 2012, IPT recruited and sent 38 Uzbek citizens and 18 citizens of other Central Asian republics, who resided in the Moscow Oblast, to training camps.[14] At the beginning of 2013, Russia launched a special operation to identify, locate, and capture members of the Moscow IPT.[15] On February 19th, Russian police arrested two Uzbek nationals for their involvement in the recruitment and transfer of militants to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. The arrests also produced a large quantity of terrorist and literature and mobile phones that the men were using. It has not been confirmed if the men are also IPT members, but news sources have indicated they were also on an international wanted list.[16]

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FOOTNOTES

[1] “State’s Blake at Hearing on Islamist Threats in Eurasia,” U.S. Department of State, February 27, 2013, http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2013/02/20130227143359.html#axzz2OIEUSdH7 and [1] “U.S. Sees no ‘Imminent Islamic Militant Threat’ in Central Asia,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, February 27, 2013, http://www.rferl.org/content/us-central-asia-islamist-threat/24914755.html.

[2] Nathan Barrick, “Post-2014 Terrorist Threat in Central Asia: Keeping it Real,” registan.com, January 28, 2013, http://registan.net/2013/01/28/defining-the-post-2014-terrorist-threat/.

[3] “State’s Blake at Hearing on Islamist Threats in Eurasia.”

[4] “State’s Blake at Hearing on Islamist Threats in Eurasia.”

[5] “U.S. Sees no ‘Imminent Islamic Militant Threat’ in Central Asia,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, February 27, 2013, http://www.rferl.org/content/us-central-asia-islamist-threat/24914755.html.

[6] James Kilner, “‘Allah vodka stirs anger in Kazakhstan,” The Telegraph, April 5, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/kazakhstan/9189497/Allah-vodka-stirs-anger-in-Kazakhstan.html.

[7] “Kazakhstan Vodka Maker Puts ‘Allah’ on Liquor Bottle, Angers Muslims,” April 4, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/kazakhstan-vodka-maker-allah_n_1403027.html and “Kazakh Men Jailed For Plotting Vodka Plant Explosion,” PTSS Daily, February 29, 2013.

[8] Asker Sultanov, “Kyrgyzstan works to combat spread of extremism in prisons,” Central Asian Online, February 19, 2013, http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/dcaii/features/main/2013/02/19/feature-01.

[9] Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, “Revival of extremism in Eurasia,” Russia & India Report, March 15, 2013, http://eurasianhub.com/2013/03/22/revival-of-extremism-in-eurasia/.

[10] Paul Globe, “Kyrgyz Prisons Becoming ‘Universities of Religious Extremism,’ The Moscow Times, November 9, 2009, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/blogs/432776/post/kyrgyz-prisons-becoming-universities-of-religious-extremism/433068.html.

[11] Asker Sultanov, “Kyrgyzstan works to combat spread of extremism in prisons,” Central Asian Online, February 19, 2013, http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/dcaii/features/main/2013/02/19/feature-01.

[12] “Through the lens: life in a Kyrgyz prison,” UNODC, June 8, 2012, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2012/June/through-the-lens—life-in-a-kyrgyz-prison.html.

[13] “Suspected leader of “terrorist” group’s Moscow cell detained,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, March 11, 2013, http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-322005067/suspected-leader-terrorist-group.html and “Russia Detain Suspected “Terror” Leader,” PTSS Daily, March 12, 2013.

[14] “Uzbek “Islamist” Tashkent wants detained in Moscow,” Fergananews.com, March 12, 2013, http://enews.fergananews.com/news.php?id=2501&print=1.

[15] “Suspected leader of “terrorist” group’s Moscow cell detained,” BBC Monitoring International Reports.

[16] “Militant Recruiter Suspects Held in Moscow Region,” RIANovosti, February 19, 2013, http://en.rian.ru/world/20130219/179566749/Militant-Recruiter-Suspects-Held-in-Moscow-Region.html.

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IIPER ANNOUNCEMENTS

RELATED PUBLICATIONS, INTERVIEWS, AND APPEARANCES

Gordon M. Hahn, Interview with News Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan), 27 February 2013, in Russian – http://www.1news.az/interview/20130227011450212.html, in English – http://news.az/articles/politics/77203.

Gordon M. Hahn, “The Caucasus Emirate Jihadists: The Security and Strategic Implications,” in Stephen J. Blank, ed., Russia’s Homegrown Insurgency: Jihad in the North Caucasus (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, October 2012), pp. 1-98, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1116.pdf.

Gordon M. Hahn appeared as discussant at CSIS’s seminar launching of Sergei Markedonov’s CSIS report “The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islamic Organizations in Russia’s Volga Region” on February 21st.  For the audio of Dr. Hahn’s and Dr. Markedonov’s presentations and the question-and-answer session that followed, see http://csis.org/multimedia/audio-rise-radical-and-nonofficial-islamic-groups-russias-volga- region.

Sergei Markedonov, “The Rise of Radical and Nonofficial Islamic Organizations in Russia’s Volga Region,” CSIS Report, 23 January 2013, http://csis.org/files/publication/130122_Markedonov_RiseRadicalIslamicVolga_Web.pdf.

Gordon M. Hahn, Interview with News Day (Azerbaijan), 21 February 2013, http://news.day.az/politics/384700.html.

Gordon M. Hahn, “Putin’s Political Perestroika: Constructing a System, Obstructing the Street,” Russia – Other Points of View, 1 February 2013, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2013/02/putins-political-perestroika-constructing-a-system-obstructing-the-street.html.

Gordon M. Hahn, “Perestroika 2.0: Towards Non-Revolutionary Regime Transformation in Russia?,” Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 28, No. 4 (October-December 2012), pp. 472-515.

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ABOUT IIPER

               Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) is a project of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  It focuses on all politically-relevant issues involving or bearing on Islam, Islamism, and Jihadism in Russia and Eurasia writ large.  All issues of IIPER will soon be permanently archived at http://csis.org/program/russia-and-eurasia-program.  All back issues temporarily remain archived at: http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/ghahn/report.

               IIPER is compiled, edited and, unless indicated otherwise, written by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn.  Dr. Hahn is a Senior Associate (Non-Resident) in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP), Monterey, California.  He is also a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group and an Analyst and Consultant for Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com.  He teaches courses on both politics and terrorism in Russia and Eurasia at MonTREP.  Dr. Hahn is the author of two well-received books, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002) as well as numerous articles on Russian, Eurasian and international politics. 

               IIPER welcomes submissions on any aspect of Islamic, Islamist, or Jihadist politics in Eurasia as well as financial contributions to support the project.  For related inquiries or to request to be included on IIPER’s mailing list, please contact:

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

Tel: (831) 647-3535 Fax: (831) 647-6522

Email: ghahn@miis.edu or gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net

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About Gordon M. Hahn