Updated on 18.02.2019, 19:27 (AST)

Political Analyst Yerlan KARIN:

Yerlan KARIN shares his view with Interfax-Kazakhstan about the grounds giving rise to terrorism in Kazakhstan, offers his forecasts of possible future scenarios and talks about the best way to respond to a rising terrorism threat.


-Why now is the time for terrorism to rear its head in Kazakhstan? Are those alarming events linked together or they are simply random isolated acts?

- This year has been challenging for Kazakhstan. For the first time we have met with terrorism face to face. Previously these threats were perceived as only those coming from outside. Unfortunately, an idea of terrorism and extremism activities organized within the country was totally dismissed.

Consequently, the national security system was shaped to fend off terrorism as an outside threat.

Terrorism reared its head earlier, but those were localized attempts. However, in recent years the threat of terrorism has been taking its shape. Thus, the number of Kazakhstan residents brought to trial on terrorism charges has risen significantly.а Annually from 10 to 20 people have been tried for terrorism in Kazakhstan.

Another sign of the threat rising in Kazakhstan is an increasing volume of extremist literature confiscated by the Interior Ministry, which was four times as much last year as in the four pervious years altogether.

A few recent years have also showed that more frequently Kazakh residents got involved in terrorism activities on the territory of other countries.

We have received more alarming signals with each passing year. Therefore, the tragic events of this year are manifestations of the general terrorism threat rising in the country.

Despite the fact that these events followed one another and were identical in character, it is still premature to talk about their well-planned organization by a centralized force. We are still dealing with random actions of localized groups.а Irrespective of who was behind the attacks: small groups or individuals acting independently, it's important not to overlook when more organized groups start to emerge. We are witnessing attempts to enforce an ideology of resistance against "repressive policy" or "secular authorities," in other words attempts to build an ideological basis for the terrorism activities. It is extremely important not to let them pressure our society into believing any of those ideas.

Whyа now is the time for Kazakhstan to face a terror threat? The reason for this is a confluence of internal and external factors. The weakening of the regional security system, unstable environment around Kazakhstan and the country's proximity to conflict zones (North Caucasus, Afghanistan) Ц all this contributes to the rising threat of terrorism. In addition, unfortunately, certain factors leading to extremism and terrorism have emerged within the region and the country.

For years we have been fighting the manifestations of extremism and terrorism (seizing banned literature, arresting missionaries and members of terrorist groups), but have failed to tackle the root of the problem.

-Why do some experts suggest it is not by chance that the recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the West and South of the country?

- Before the events in Taraz there was a certain stereotype that the center of terrorist activity was located in the western regions of Kazakhstan. This misconception hampered the objective assessment of the situation throughout the country. This is despite the statistics of the past five or six years show that such problems have taken place in other regions too. Extremist literature has been seized all around the country. One should not forget about the liquidation of the so-called Stepnogorsk Jamaat. Therefore anti-extremism efforts should be focused on all regions.

-The way the law enforcement agencies have responded to the terrorist attacks suggests that they were taken aback. What changes would benefit the national security policy of Kazakhstan? What can be done to improve it?

- It would be wrong to assert that the law enforcement agencies are unprepared to counter terrorism and extremism. As I said, the threats have been mounting for the past several years and in all that time the agencies have coped quite successfully. Kazakhstan became one of the first post-Soviet states to adopt a law on combating terrorism, to set up an Anti-Terrorism Center and to make a list of strategic facilities to have upgraded security, including against terrorist attacks. Nonetheless, after this year's events in Kazakhstan it became evident that our national security system needs improvement. We do not have a scale of terrorism threat levels as they do in the U.S., Russia and many other countries. Every level implies a certain degree of mobilization of services and resources to counter the threat.

Unfortunately, the Kazakh law does not clearly say what government agencies should do to respond to an emergency, including terrorist acts. For instance, Russia adopted a law, which specifies a procedure for counter-terrorist operations and which says how the concerned government agencies should respond to a terrorist threat, including information handling and coordination between all involved bodies.

We may have to improve the anti-terrorist law, which is not detailed and specific enough if compared with similar laws adopted by Russia, western countries and even the other Central Asian states.

There is also a draft law УOn Amendments to the Law on National SecurityФ, which is currently under discussion. Additional laws may also have to be initiated.

Besides, the recent terrorist acts were aimed at the law enforcement bodies and special services. We have to do our best to prevent such acts from happening at places of public assembly. That is why we need to enhance anti-terrorist awareness training. We suggested some time ago that the security officers at places of public assembly, such as recreational areas, airports, shopping and entertainment centers, should take a general anti-terrorist training course to be skilful to adequately respond to emergency situations.

- How do you think the situation may change in the future? Are there any signs or facts showing that the terrorist threat is growing?

- Irrespective of the fact if such a treat does exist or not, we must be ready to respond to it. Any terrorist act (no matter where it is committed and by whom) is a sort of call for other terrorist acts. Besides, the way the recent events were represented and covered in mass media was not quite adequate.

- As we can see today, the terrorist acts are mainly aimed at the law enforcement bodies and special services in order to separate the state authorities and the common people. But we need to provide even stronger support to the law enforcement bodies and officers and to show that our community harshly condemns any extremism acts. For instance, instead of feeding the public with personal data of terrorists it would be more appropriate and fair to focus on the killed police officers, who are just ordinary people living next-door, who are sons and fathers. We need to make people sympathize with them and their families.

- In other words, the recent events in Taraz should become a turning point both for the state authorities and ordinary people in terms of how they perceive the threat.

- Thank you for your time.

November, 2011
й 2011 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited

November, 2011
© 2019 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited


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