YakovTrofimov: Manifestations of Islam radicalization in Kazakhstan
“2,383 Muslim associations operated in the country as of April 2014. If each of them had its own account in Internet social networks, it would be a powerful force in the fight against extremism and terrorism”, said Yakov Trofimov, professor of Karaganda University “Bolashak” (Kazakhstan, Karaganda ), in an article written for CABAR.asia
Radicalization of Islam is a complex multifaceted socio-political phenomenon that manifests itself on nearly every continent in many states in the 21st century. This is evidenced, in particular, by the involvement of numerous militants from the CIS countries, Western Europe, America, Australia and other countries on the side of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
It is difficult to give one definition of “radical Islam”. There are many different definitions of which the most complete is the definition given by Russian experts Dobaeva I.P., Dobaeva A.I., and Gadjibekova R.G.: radicalization of Islam is defined as a religious and political process, which is based on ideological doctrine of radical Islam (Islamism), which implies the implementation of specific differentiated political practice – from implementation of the so-called “Islamic appeal” (moderate radicalism) to total implementation of subversive and terrorist actions against the “enemies of Islam” justified by the “fight for the faith” – Jihad, in order to build an Islamic state and introduce Sharia (ultra-radicalism). This definition is very broad and covers all forms of radicalization of Islam in Kazakhstan.
Government – confessional relations in Kazakhstan
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Office of the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs of the Kazakh SSR under the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the Oblast Offices of commissioners were liquidated in Kazakhstan. The coordination of relations with religious associations was transferred to the Ministry of Information and Public Accord. The Council Relations with Religious Associations under the Government was established only in May 2000 as a consultative body, which is based on similar structures in the regional centers. The Council consists of officials, scientists, Chief Mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Kazakhstan and Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its operation has allowed to monitor the religious situation in the country. The activities of regional Councils for relations with religious associations is aimed at helping to effectively solve problems of relationship between religious associations with the authorities, including talking about the problems of interfaith relations and the need to react to manifestations of religious extremism.
For a long time, the normalization of church-state relations in the country was significantly complicated by the constant reorganization of the bodies responsible for coordinating the religious policy in Kazakhstan. In 2008, the government created the Committee for Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 2010, that committee was delegated to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture. In 2011, the Committee was transformed into the Agency for Religious Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Agency had a “Research and Analytical Center for Religious Affairs” (founded in 2007) and “International Center of Cultures and Religions” (founded in 2008). Until mid-2013, the Agency had their units in the regional centers, the cities of Astana and Almaty. In 2013, they became the Directorate of Religious Affairs of regional local government offices, local government offices in Astana and Almaty. In August 2014, the Agency was transformed into the Committee on Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
In March-April 2014, public state institutions “Center for Study and Analysis of inter-confessional relations” were created in all regional centers. These centers were set up to organize the system monitoring, aimed at studying the religion-state and interfaith relations; development and production of teaching materials and information on topical issues and problems of the religious sphere to provide residents with complete and timely information on the activities of religious organizations and groups; training seminars and training workshops aimed at preventing the penetration to modern Kazakh society of pernicious ideas of extremism; awareness raising among the population and other activities. It is too early to talk about the results of their operation, but it should be noted that a certain strengthening of information advocacy work for prevention of religious radicalism in the region has already happened.
In 2002, the Government set a course for dissemination of scientific knowledge about religions through the education system by issuing a government contract for training in religious studies. For example, in 2013, in six higher education institutions, 1500 Bachelors in Religious Studies, Islamic Studies and Theology were trained, and 95 masters in this field were trained in five high schools. In the past few years, about 390 young people have completed a degree in religious studies. In 2010, the course “Basics of religious studies” was introduced in school curriculum, but this course is absent in curricula of many colleges and universities.
In accordance with the approved “State program on combating religious extremism and terrorism in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2013 – 2017”, it is supposed to change public education programs in order to equip students of secondary, vocational and higher education institutions with sufficient volume of religious and secular knowledge necessary for well-informed attitude to the surrounding reality and critical evaluation of the received religious information. To date, it is unclear when and how this concept will be implemented in educational programs.
Along with the introduction of special subjects in the education system, the authorities have implemented a number of other outreach measures. In particular, the Agency for Religious Affairs in cooperation with the Foundation of spiritual unity developed an informational and educational internet portal «E-Islam». The portal started working in November 2013. Its work is aimed at promoting spiritual values of traditional Islam, the principle of secularism of Kazakh state, as well as the prevention of religious radicalism. In 2013, the information and advisory center “Hot Line 114” began to work. Its purpose is to receive information on all matters relating to the religious sphere from individuals and organizations, as well as the provision of counseling and psychological assistance to victims of destructive religious activities. Professional psychologists, lawyers and religious scholars are working in the center. Free and confidential counseling is conducted around the clock.
All of the above outreach activities, of course, will yield some result in a certain time perspective, but it is impossible to expect significant results in the short term.
MODERATE radicalism in contemporary realities of KAZAKHSTAN
Moderate radicalism in Kazakhstan is manifested in functioning of “Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami” (the organization has been recognized as extremist and banned by the court in Astana in March 2005) and “Tablighi Jamaat” (in April 2013, Saryarky Court of Astana recognized it as extremist, and its activity was also prohibited).
The main objective of Hizb is a utopian idea of the revival of the medieval Caliphate. The minimum objective of Hizb is the establishment of a caliphate in one country, the maximum objective is the establishment of a caliphate in the world. According to Hizb, the arising Islamic state should be unitary, denying the nation-state, and thus, the sharia law applies to all citizens of the Caliphate. This establishes a formal ban on the use of national languages. Hizb ideologues are aware that their ideology is in conflict with the existing state systems and the interests of the people. They consider patriotic and national feelings of the people as barriers to the dissemination of ideas of Hizb. At the same time, they claim priority of their ideology over the interests of peoples: “So if the position will require a choice between the people and the ideology, people of Hizb must hold fast to ideology.”
If Hizb ut Tahrir is spreading radical Islamist ideas through leaflets, literature and the Internet, “Tablighi Jamaat” is spreading it through oral propaganda “from door to door”. Despite the declared apolitical nature of the movement, the true goals of “Tablighi Jamaat” are the same as those ones of Hizb: formation of a Muslim empire, who would not know the boundaries of nation-states. At its core, openly renouncing any war and violence in general, the movement is trying to create a global Islamic project as an alternative to modern civilization.
According to many experts, currently Hizb ut Tahrir and Tablighi may not directly carry out terrorist acts, but they are pushing people to commit violent acts, that is, those organizations are the conveyor for the production of terrorists. The number of adherents of these organizations in the country is estimated by experts as 2-3 thousand people. It should be noted that, despite the prohibitions, their supporters continue the propaganda work.
Serious concern of the Islamic clergy is the “moderate Salafis” – “madhalits”. The term “madhalits” was formed on behalf of Rabia Madhali, an Islamic scholar, a member of the inner circle of the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who has published several books criticizing the ideology of the “Muslim Brotherhood” and the rationale for obedience to the authorities. The term was introduced by the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to oppose their “true” Islam to “madhalits”. The “madhalits” themselves believe that they are the true Muslims.
In the Republic of Kazakhstan, “madhalits” are considered supporters of Salafi Islamism, claiming the need to obey the secular authorities. The spread of the ideology of “madhalits” relies on the support of several senior Kazakh officials who hold an ideology of Salafism, who emphasize that “madhalits” do not oppose the existing government. The author believes Salafism as radical Islamism still poses a threat to society and the state.
features of manifestation of ULTRA-radicalism in KAZAKHSTAN
Feature One: The criminal nature of Kazakh terrorism.
An ideological justification for committing acquisitive crime is a statement of the Salafi doctrine that life and property of unbelievers (kafir) are “allowed” for true believers, and members of criminal groups consider true believers only themselves. Another important factor is that they believe that robbing is not for themselves but for “jihad”.
Merging of religiously motivated terrorism and criminality in Kazakhstan is noted by many experts. For example, a political scientist Yerlan Karin argues that most extremist groups in Kazakhstan are criminal gangs engaged in robbery.
The supposition that the activities of extremist and terrorist groups are closely connected with criminal offenses is proved by many of the facts. For example, in March 2009 in Uralsk, there was broken up a Jamaat “Salaf-Jihad”, which existed during more than a year. During that period of time, the armed bandits repeatedly looted shops in the town and local villages. The most daring of their crime was the murder of the buyer of meat and an armed attack on the village administration and the “Kazpost” office. All the money obtained through robbery in the name of spreading radical Islam would be used to recruit new members of the Jamaat, buy weapons and spread radical religious literature. The court sentenced five members of Jamaat to various terms of imprisonment in a penal colony with confiscation of property. Amir (i.e. ruler) of the jamagat Rinat Aymuhambetov got the longest punishment – 20 years in prison. It is important to note that the religious component of crime in a court was not properly covered.
Institutions of the correctional system of Kazakhstan may play a negative role in the criminalization of religious extremism, as extremists serve their terms there. According to the Committee of the correctional system of MIA RK, over the past 9 years, the number of convicted supporters of extremist movements has increased 21 times. If in 2004, there were only 24 in the republic, now there are 510.
Kazakh authorities are trying to progressively implement measures to prevent the spread of radical Islam in prison. In particular, in 2011, there was planned re-orientation of one institution of correctional system in the Karaganda region, in order to keep there those convicted of participation in an organized criminal group and convicted for extremist activity. In this institution, within a pilot project, there was introduced a cell detention of such prisoners. Perhaps, the authorities relied on the experience of the UK in this case, where such a practice existed. Currently, the idea of keeping such prisoners in one institution was abandoned, and the experience of cell detention of such convicts extended to other institutions.
In order to perform a more thorough monitoring of convicted extremists, serving a sentence in the penitentiary system, their cell detention was introduced in all institutions since 2014. It is important that the institutions of the penitentiary system do not become “schools” of extremism. It is necessary to raise the level of counter-propaganda work in prisons, to organize “religious” training of its employees. To some extent, this is currently happening: religious ministers often come in penitentiary facilities and conduct individual interviews with prisoners.
At the same time, the author considers the introduction of full-time position of “theologist” in the penal system totally unjustified. This undermines the constitutional principle of the secular state, as theology is a set of religious doctrines about the nature and action of God, built on the basis of texts adopted as divine revelation. In accordance with this, a theologian is a man who knows theology. It is difficult to say what relationship he may have to the governmental service. In Kazakhstan, unlike in Russia, positions of chaplains were not introduced by the Senate. In Islam, the ulama (ulema) are recognized and respected experts in theology and Sharia: imam, faqih, mufti, Cadi and others. However, the majority of theologians appointed to office are not Ulama.
Feature Two: The young age of terrorists.
For the purposes of this analysis, the youth is a socio-demographic group, still in its period of social maturity, entry into the adult world and adaptation. The boundaries of this group are blurred and mobile, but they are usually associated with age from 15 to 30 years old. In Kazakhstan, the proportion of this group is about 28 per cent, that is, it covers approximately 4.76 million people. The characteristic features of youth are the desire for new things and the desire to be active. During this period, there formed the moral beliefs and principles that guide the teenager’s behavior. Extremely critical attitude toward reality is natural for young people, the desire to transform the reality into a perfect image, including into the Muslim caliphate.
The economic prerequisite is that the majority of the identified criminal groups are unemployed young people. In 2014, on the basis of a comprehensive social analysis of those convicted in the past six years, the prosecutor’s office has drawn up the following social portrait of a terrorist in Kazakhstan: an unemployed young man aged 28 years old with secondary education and without special religious education; is married and has several children.
Studies have shown that the most of the convicted extremists and terrorists are young people. For example, in November 2013 – March 2014, an independent non-governmental analytical organization “Center for security programs” analyzed the materials of criminal cases under article “Terrorism” in the period from 2004 to 2013 and conducted interviews with those convicted under article “Terrorism”, as well as their relatives and friends. The report on the results of the study said: “Social characteristics of the convicted persons in the article” Terrorism “is as follows: more than 55 percent of the participants of criminal cases are people from 17 to 29 years old, of which 36 per cent are under 25 years old, and 35 percent are at the age of 30 -35 years old. The youngest is 17 years old, the oldest is 48 years old”. In general, these figures correspond to the data presented by other experts.
It is obvious that the government of Kazakhstan is very knowledgeable and understands the role and potential threat of “rejuvenation” of the process of radicalization of Islam in the country. Given that the youth makes up a significant portion of extremists and terrorists, the government initiated the law “On Youth Policy” in 2013 and passed it in 2015. This Law had been long discussed in the Majilis of the Senate. This law and the Concept of the state youth policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan up to 2020 are needed to accelerate the resolution of accumulated social problems of youth and reduce the percentage of youth participation in radical Islamism. At present, it is important to implement this Law and the Concept.
Feature Three: the absence of specific requirements of terrorists
Note that the absence of any specific demands of terrorists is typical for Kazakhstan and for many terrorist acts in Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
The only exception to this are the activities of a group calling itself “Jund al-Khalifa» (JaK), or “Soldiers of the Caliphate”, when the October 24, 2011, this group spoke with threats to the Kazakh authorities in connection with new religious laws. They demanded to immediately cancel those laws. JaK claimed responsibility for the double explosion of improvised explosive devices in Atyrau on October 31, 2011. According to law enforcement officials, three people were arrested for the bombings on October 31, who contacted members of JaK via the internet. In a statement, in which the group claimed responsibility for these attacks, it was stressed that the militants were not going to do any harm and stated that Bayyrzhan Sultangaliyev, the suspect in the bombings, accidentally detonated the bomb. JaK, however, threatened with “rivers of blood” if the religious restrictions are not cancelled. We add that one did not hear anything on the activities of this group during three years.
Feature Four: lack of religious education
An important feature is that most of those convicted extremists were neophytes, who only recently converted to Islam and do not have sufficient knowledge about it. According to studies, only 6 per cent of the 220 convicted under article “Terrorism” for 2005 – 2013 were attending special religious institutions. This suggests that the majority of the involved are people having no religious education “, said E. Karin.
Most believers do not have serious theological education and do not understand the intricacies of theology of their religion. It is important that the neophytes do not know the traditions of traditional Islam in Kazakhstan. Significant is the fact that many Arab preachers, just like many Kazakhs, who studied in Arab countries, often do not consider Kazakhstan as an Islamic state, believing that it is them who brought the true Islam in Kazakhstan.
Feature Five: lack of uniform extremist centers and recognized leaders
It is also important that the country has no united center of extremists and terrorists, as well as no Republican leaders. In each case, each known extremist group acted autonomously. Experts agree that a formed structure of terrorism has not emerged in Kazakhstan. There is evidence of terrorist attacks, but there is no question about the appearance of terrorism in its entirety as an organized movement, structure, organization, and so on. To maintain this status, the country needs to prevent the emergence of structures that coordinate terrorism.
Feature Six: extremism directed against law enforcement structures
Some experts believe that another feature of religiously motivated terrorism in Kazakhstan is its direction mainly against employees of the National Security Committee and the Ministry of Interior. On one of the foreign extremist websites in September 2010, there was published the so-called fatwa on jihad against Kazakh police, which contained not only calls for resistance, but namely the organization of collective armed attacks. On this website, it was explained in detail how the attacks against law enforcement officers should be organized. Unfortunately, the Kazakh media were quick to make this fatwa public, thus acting as promoters of terrorism.
KAZAKH TERRORISTS ABROAD
An important feature of terrorism is participation of Kazakh citizens in terrorist activities on the territory of neighboring countries, as well as in foreign countries.
For example, in July 2009, during a special operation conducted in Dagestan, killing eight militants, 5 those killed, according to law enforcement sources, had Kazakh passports. On September 19, 2010, during a special operation in the Rasht Valley in Tajikistan, Tajik law enforcement agencies found a Kazakh passport to the name of Arthur Nabiyev on the body of one of the killed militants. In February 2011, in Makhachkala, there were detained two people suspected of involvement in illegal armed groups, and they were citizens of Kazakhstan – Albert Abdikarimov (born in 1989) and Rainbek Erzhanov (born in 1990).
Unfortunately, these tragic events did not cause great public interest in Kazakhstan, as they were isolated cases and were not widely covered. The situation changed only after the broadcast on the Internet of video clips about Kazakhstani citizens who had gone to war in Syria. In October 2014, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan announced that it had objective information about the number of citizens of Kazakhstan, participating in combat operations in the territory of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Also they had information on some Kazakh citizens who left to participate in an armed conflict in the south-eastern Ukraine.
Currently, the attempts of Kazakh citizens to go abroad to the so-called “hot spots”, including using those involved in recruitment and shipping to a war zone, are continuing. Currently, there are numerous studies to learn the reasons for Kazakh citizens’ leaving to war zones, but a clear answer has not been yet received. The author believes that the religious factor is important here. According to the words of Imam Khomeini “Death in bed is just an ordinary death, and the death on the Divine path is a martyr’s death, pride and nobility of man and people”. According to the author, those leaving for jihad are brainwashed to this end. Psychological confidence of young people in their personal immortality must be added, this is what explains their leaving with wives and children.
Legislative regulation of religious organizations in KAZAKHSTAN
The government pays great attention to the improvement of legislation on freedom of religion. Initially, in January 1992, a law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” was passed. This law has legally secured the withdrawal of the state from the anti-religious policy of the communist past, created the conditions for a real implementation by citizens of their constitutional right to freedom of conscience. But already in 1995 – 1997, the law in some of its provisions could no longer meet the new historical realities. Its excessive liberalism promoted the aggressive penetration of numerous non-traditional religions in Kazakhstan, and the community began to actively discuss the need for amendments to the law. In 2005, a norm on compulsory registration of religious associations was introduced in a law, and an article 374-1 was introduced in the Code of Administrative Offences, which provides for penalties for operating without official state registration.
In 2011, there were passed laws “On Religious Activity and Religious Associations” and “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on religious activities and religious associations”. The preamble of the law “On Religious Activity and Religious Associations” stipulates that the Republic of Kazakhstan is a democratic secular state, which affirms the right of everyone to freedom of conscience, guarantees equality of everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, it recognized the historical role of Islam of the Hanafi school and Orthodox Christianity in the development of culture and spiritual life of the people of Kazakhstan, respect for other religions, combined with the spiritual heritage of the people, recognized the importance of interfaith harmony, religious tolerance and respect for religious beliefs of citizens.
At the same time, a number of provisions of this Law prohibits religious rites in the territory and in buildings of state bodies and organizations. Thus, all practicing Muslims are denied the right to perform the noon and afternoon prayers if they are civil servants. From a human rights perspective, this provision violates the right to freedom of conscience and religion and causes natural resentment on the part of religious groups. For example, every Muslim must pray five times during the day.
Improving the legal framework to combat extremism and terrorism
The Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan conduct gradual work on improving the legal framework to combat extremism and terrorism. In this regard, we should note the Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On National Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan” (1998), “On Combating Terrorism” (1999) and the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Introduction of Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on fighting terrorism” of February 19, 2002. Second, the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Introduction of Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on issues of national security” of 8 July 2005, which states that crimes containing signs of extremism are the crimes under the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan:
Art. 164. Incitement of social, national, ethnic, racial or religious hatred (Art. 174 of the Criminal Code as of 2014).
Art. 168. The violent seizure of power or forcible retention of power or exercise by representatives of a foreign state or foreign organization of powers within the competence of the authorized bodies and officials of the Republic of Kazakhstan (art. 179 of the Criminal Code as of 2014).
Art. 169. Armed rebellion (Art. 181 of the Criminal Code as of 2014).
Art. 170. Calls for the violent overthrow or change of the constitutional order or the violent disruption of the unity of the Republic of Kazakhstan (art. 179 of the Criminal Code as of 2014).
Art. 171. Subversions (Art. 184 of the Criminal Code, 2014).
Art. 233-3. Terrorism (Art. 258 of the Criminal Code, 2014).
Art. 236. Organization of illegal paramilitary militia (Art. 267 of the Criminal Code, 2014).
Art. 337 Creation or participation in illegal public and other unions. Parts Two and Three (Art. 404 of the Criminal Code, 2014).
Art. 337-1. Organization of activity of a public or religious association or other organization following a court decision to ban their activities or liquidation due to their exercise of extremist activities (art. 405 of the Criminal Code, 2014).
In 2014, two new articles were introduced in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Art. 162-1 “Participation in international armed conflict” (Art. 172 of the Criminal Code, 2014) and Art. 233-5 “Participation in terrorist or extremist training” (Art. 260 of the Criminal Code, 2014). They provide for imprisonment for a term of 3 to 7 years.
In the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 2005, there was adopted a law “On Countering Extremism”. In August 2009, the Law “On counteraction to legalization (laundering) of income received from crime, and terrorist financing”, under which there was created the appropriate authorized body – the Committee for Financial Monitoring of the Ministry of Finance. This state agency became a full member of the Egmont Group in July 2011 (an international association of financial intelligence in 127 countries in the world), which extended its capabilities to track all transactions of terrorists through financial institutions both within the country and abroad.
In July 2009, the Law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on information and communication networks” was passed. It regulates the mechanisms of restraint and suspension of online distribution of illegal information, including terrorist and extremist.
On April 8, 2010, there was passed a Law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on combating terrorism”, which made improvements in 5 codes and 11 laws. Principles and models of the state system of countering terrorism were set in accordance with international standards.
In June 2014, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on counteraction to legalization (laundering) of income received from crime, and terrorist financing”. The law provides for regulations to bring the legislation on counteraction to legalization (laundering) of income received from crime and financing of terrorism in accordance with international standards. The law provides for amendments and additions to 33 legislative acts, including 6 Codes. The Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan was amended, according to which the manipulation in the securities market and the illegal use of insider information are recognized as criminal activities. In addition, it stipulates for criminalization of the conversion or transfer of property representing the proceeds of crime, as well as confiscation and forfeiture of proceeds of crime.
The Military Doctrine of the Republic of Kazakhstan, approved in October 2011, defined international terrorism as one of the major external threats to military security of Kazakhstan. The doctrine considers illegal activities of extremist nationalist, religious, separatist and terrorist movements, organizations and structures aimed at violating the unity and territorial integrity of the country and destabilizing the political situation as an internal threat.
An Interdepartmental Commission to combat extremism and terrorism in the Armed Forces, other troops and military formations of the Republic of Kazakhstan was organized at the Coordinating Council of military bodies of management and prosecution. This Interdepartmental Commission is focused on ensuring the implementation of the state policy in the field of combating extremism and terrorism.
In accordance with the law “On Religious Activity and Religious Associations” (2011), there was introduced a mandatory religious examination of the imported religious literature. It is also important that the “there was established a regulatory procedure for the distribution of religious literature and other religious materials, items of religious significance. To date, the country Akimats identified 212 bookstores. At the same time, there are revealed facts of distribution of religious literature outside the established places, including streets and doorways. “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are often noted for distributing the materials in such a way. On January 6, 2012, there was adopted a new Law “On the National Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan”.
Fundamentally important is the decision of the Government “On approval of the Rules for burial of persons, the prosecution of which in connection with their participation in terrorist activities is discontinued due to death resulting from their commission of an act of terrorism, as well as during the suppression of a terrorist act committed by them”, which sets as follows: “The bodies of the people, the criminal proceedings in respect of whom due to their involvement in terrorist activities are discontinued due to their death at the commission of an act of terrorism, as well as during the suppression of terrorist act committed by them, are not given for burial, and the place of their burial is not reported”.
In January 2013, a law was passed “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on combating terrorism.” One result was the creation of regional antiterrorist commissions in regions of Kazakhstan. The law provides for the distinction between “terrorism” and “act of terrorism”. Thus, Article 1 paragraph 5 reads: “Terrorism is an ideology of violence and practice of influencing the process of decision-making by public authorities, local governments, or international organizations, by commission or threats of violence and (or) other criminal acts related to the intimidation of the population and aimed at damage to individuals, society and the state”. Article 1 paragraph 6 provides: “an act of terrorism is committing or threatening to commit an explosion, arson or other actions that endanger people’s lives, causing significant property damage or other socially dangerous consequences, if these acts are committed to violate public security, intimidate the population or influence the decision-making by public authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan, foreign states or international organizations, as well as the attempt on the life of man committed for the same purpose, as well as an attack on the life of a state or public figure, committed to end his/her state or other political activity or in revenge for such activity”.
In 2013, there was established a list of 21 public bodies at the legislative level (previously, this list consisted of five government agencies) engaged in counter-terrorism, defining their competence in this area. The Anti-Terrorism Center at the CNS was introduced in the national system of counter-terrorism for the first time.
In August 2013, the decree of the President of Kazakhstan approved the rules of organization and functioning of the state system of monitoring the information and alerting the public about the threat of an act of terrorism. According to Erlan Karin, an analyst, the Secretary of the “Nur Otan” party, this decree determines the order of awareness, the area of responsibility of each service. Terrorist threat levels will be established on the territory of Kazakhstan in the event of a threat. For example, moderate (“yellow” – if there is information that requires confirmation of the possibility of an act of terrorism); high (“orange” – if there is confirmed information about the real possibility of an act of terrorism); critical (“red” – if there is confirmed information that an act of terrorism has already been committed and confirmed information about the possible re-committing an act of terrorism).
On September 24, 2013, the decree of the President of Kazakhstan approved the “State program on combating religious extremism and terrorism in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2013 – 2017”. The goal of the program is “Ensuring the security of man, society and the state by preventing religious extremism and the threat of terrorism”. In October 2013, the Government developed an action plan for its implementation.
On November 3, 2014, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts on combating extremism and terrorism”. The law introduces a ban on entry to the Republic of Kazakhstan of persons, about whom the national security agencies have information about their involvement in extremism or terrorism.
In addition, under the new rules, the Kazakhs leaving Kazakhstan for war zones will be warned about criminal liability. The law also makes it possible after special court proceedings, to recognize organizations extremist and terrorist, irrespective of their territorial status. Court decisions in these cases will be immediately executed. The law allows the court to recognize information materials as terrorist. Until now, this was possible only in respect of extremist materials.
Another innovation is the confiscation and forfeiture to the State of property of the organizations recognized by the court as extremist. There is also a norm providing for financial monitoring of all persons convicted of terrorist offenses or falling within the scope of activities of law enforcement and special services.
The Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Records of the General Prosecutor’s Office has a right to keep a single list of organizations, information materials, recognized extremist or terrorist by the court and place it its departmental website.
At the meeting of the leaders of the world’s intelligence agencies in Yekaterinburg in January 2011, they came to the conclusion that the Internet has become a “university” for terrorists and groups of radicals. In this regard, the fight against the spread of extremism and terrorism in the Internet resources has become an urgent task for public authorities. Kazakhstan has a number of requirements, allowing to combat the spread of illegal content. Under the current legislation, any Internet resource has the status of the media and, accordingly, it is forbidden to distribute information, promoting the idea of terrorism and extremism, pornography or child suicide. However, in its entirety, this legal rule works only in the Kazakh sector of the Internet, which is a small part of the world wide web. It is almost impossible and impractical to isolate the Kazakhstan segment from the rest of the Internet because it would have sharply reduced the importance of the Internet and would be contrary to the right of citizens to receive information. It should be noted also that only 34% of Kazakhstan citizens visit the sites of domain zone KZ. Only 15% of the total Internet traffic accounts for the mobile Internet in Kazakhstan.
The need to combat the spread of illegal content is recognized in all countries of the world, however, there is no common understanding of the term “illegal”. The problem of national cybersecurity is closely connected with the problem of the spread of illegal content. In 2011, the United Kingdom adopted a Concept of National Cybersecurity, in 2013 – the Netherlands, India, Spain, Turkey, Hungary and Poland. In January 2014, the text of the Concept, which was prepared with the assistance of IT-business and NGOs, was submitted for public discussion in Russia. According to a report published at the end of January 2014 on the site of the World Economic Forum, global spending on cybersecurity in 2013 totaled a record of $ 69 billion dollars.
Unfortunately, such a concept has not yet been adopted in Kazakhstan. The work on the Suppression of Unlawful Internet resources was carried out in a standard way up to 2014: Monitoring – religious examination- consideration of the results of religious examination by the prosecutor’s office – sending the materials to the court – the court’s decision. In this case, the final decision was delayed for a period of 2 to 6 months. In 2014, for the first time the prosecutor’s office had used the pre-trial blocking of access to information of extremist content by sending a write to the authorized body.
The Prosecutor’s Office is doing substantial work on the suppression of unlawful Internet resources. In 2014, after the submission of materials by the Prosecutor’s Office, the courts declared illegal the products of 703 online resources and recognized extremist 198 informational materials. However, given the information that there are more than 5,000 extremist and terrorist sites online, it turns out that the prosecutor’s office has still a lot of work to do.
A particular challenge in the fight against illegal Internet resources are all sorts of social networks: “Odnoklassniki”, “VKontakte», «Twitter», «Facebook», «YouTube» and others. Some members of these social networks deliberately publish provocative and extremist materials and articles. Depending on the editorial policy, these materials either quickly removed or remain in the network. Blocking any particular social networking is possible in principle, but it would mean a violation of the principles of democracy and would cause protests from many users. Blocking of some specific pages is possible only by agreement with the owners of the social network. Law enforcement authorities closely monitor social networks to identify the possible participation of Kazakhstan citizens in extremist and terrorist activities.
2,383 Muslim associations operated in the country as of April 2014. If each of them had its own account in Internet social networks, it would be a powerful force in the fight against extremism and terrorism. There is an obstacle: many imams do not know how to use the Internet technologies. However, this obstacle can be easily bypassed. There are many young people in all mosques who know how to use them. In this regard, it is necessary to create tandems of an experienced spiritual guide – Imam and a young believer, who masters the new technologies, and this tandem can safely surf the Internet. At the same time, it will increase the level of religious knowledge among young people and realized the purpose of serving Islam, Ummah.
Kazakhstan’s participation in the international antiterrorist ORGANIZATIONS
Kazakhstan attaches great importance to strengthening the international cooperation in the field of the fight against religious extremism and terrorism. Kazakhstan has signed and ratified thirteen international universal conventions against terrorism. The Republic strictly complies with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution to combat terrorism and submits an annual national report on the work done to the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee. In accordance with the decisions of the UN Security Council, a system to combat money laundering and terrorist financing has been established in the country.
Practical cooperation between the CIS member states, members of the Anti-Terrorist Center created on the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan in 2000 is being implemented.
On January 25 – 28, 2005, the IV Special Meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council took place in Almaty, which indicates the international community’s recognition of the important role played by the Commonwealth countries in the fight against international terrorism. The interaction of CIS member states in the framework of the Agreement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism of 1990 is also remarkable.
In 2003, the inter-ministerial Anti-Terrorism CenterNational Security Committee (ATC) was created and operates, according to the decree by the President of Kazakhstan. The structure of the ATC includes 10 state agencies, the responsibility of which are the issues of counter-terrorism (the National Security Committee, the the Security Service of the President, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Justice, Culture, Communication and Information, Transport and Communications, Customs Control Committee of the Ministry of Finance). The main objectives of the Centerare:
• coordination of anti-terrorist activities of state bodies;
• Collection and analysis of information on terrorist and other extremist threats;
• preparedness of state bodies to act in the event of a terrorist threat;
• outreach work;
• Development of regulations, joint plans and programs;
• cooperation with international centers and organizations;
• preparation and conduct of anti-terrorist measures.
Since the establishment of the Center, a number of draft laws, conventions, concepts and other regulations in the field of combating terrorism, including those ones of international character, have been discussed. The ATC participates in the work of the Anti-Terrorist Center of the CIS countries, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other international organizations.
In 2013, the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan approved the provisions on Anti-terrorist center of the Republic of Kazakhstan and anti-terrorist commissions in the regions of the country. The mechanism of its operation has been successfully tested during large-scale joint exercises of special services and security agencies of the Commonwealth “Caspian-Antiterror-2005”.
Since 1992, the Council of Ministers of Internal Affairs of the CIS member states has been functioning. Within its framework, on September 8, 2000, there was signed an agreement on cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The working body of the Council of Ministers of the Interior is the Office for the Coordination of the fight against organized crime and other dangerous crimes.
Kazakhstan’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on June 15, 2001, by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, is important to strengthen international cooperation in anti-terrorist activities. The first documents adopted by the SCO were “Declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”, “Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism” and the “Joint Statement on connecting Uzbekistan to the mechanism of “Shanghai Five”. Within the SCO, there were also signed agreements on training for anti-terrorist units and on cooperation in combating illicit trafficking in arms, ammunition and explosives. The Regulations on political and diplomatic measures and mechanisms of SCO response to situations that threaten the peace, security and stability in the region have been ratified. The antiterrorist exercises of military units of SCO member states codenamed “Peace Mission” have been conducted since 2003 on a regular basis. Within the framework of the SCO since January 1, 2004, an Executive Committee of Anti-Terrorist Structure (ECATS) is working in Tashkent. Since the inception of the ECATS, there was established the cooperation with the regional office of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Central Asia.
Political solution to the problems of security in the Asian continent is also associated with Kazakhstan’s initiative to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Measures in Asia (CICMA). CICMA summits were held in 2002 and 2006 in Almaty. High-level meetings conducted as part of the CICMA for the past two years have become an important step in creating an effective security mechanism in Asia. With the adoption of the “Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue among Civilizations” in 2002 and the “Catalogue of Confidence Measures” in 2004, the cooperation in this area is becoming more systematic and in-depth in character.
In the format of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), there was signed an Agreement on Collective Rapid Reaction Force (RRF), whose objectives include the fight against terrorism. Relevant normative acts have regulated the organizational aspects of RRF. A list of organizations recognized as terrorist and extremist in the territories of the CSTO member states has been adopted. In order to strengthen the efforts, strategic operational and tactical exercises “Interaction – 2009” (October 2009) of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force were held in Kazakhstan under the CSTO framework, considered as a component of constant readiness of forces and means of CSTO to respond adequately to the challenges and threats, including possible terrorist activities and emergencies. Counter-terrorism issues are processed during the annual joint military exercises of the CSTO coalition forces.
Since 2001, joint exercises on combating terrorism by CIS member states have become regular. In 2012, a series of military exercises “Don-Antiterror-2012” was held under the coordination of the ATC CIS on the territory of Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. During such events, there has been acquired a practical experience of cooperation of law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies and military units in their fight against terrorist groups that use the rebel-guerrilla tactics. On November 21, 2013, in Moscow, during the 65th meeting of the Council of Defense Ministers of the CIS member states, it was decided to merge the experience of training special forces.
In recent years, the real threat to the security of the CIS countries was the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL). This is due to the fact that the ISIL is actively recruiting the youth from CIS countries to participate in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. In this regard, during the 37th meeting of the Council of Heads of Security Agencies and Special Services of the CIS countries on November 21, 2014, there was made a decision on joint action in this direction. For example, in Russia, they made relevant amendments to existing regulations in this regard. Similar measures are being taken in Kazakhstan and other CIS countries. In Kazakhstan, the question of preventing our citizens from joining in the “Islamic state” is the area of not only law enforcement agencies, but also of other state bodies connected to the work of the Anti-terrorist center of the country, as well as non-governmental organizations. Since the beginning of 2014, thanks to the joint efforts of the CIS, the operation of 7 international terrorist groups was stopped, 59 heads of extremist groups were killed, more than 120 people have been arrested and are on trial.
In addition, Kazakhstan is involved in the implementation of counter-terrorism measures in the framework of Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO. The cooperation with the Council of Euro-Atlantic Partnership is getting wider. An indicator of confidence in Kazakhstan was the 3rd NATO/EAPC Security Forum and the inter-parliamentary seminar Rose-Roth in Astana on July 24-26, 2009.
Yakov Trofimov, professor of Karaganda University “Bolashak”
Opinion of the author may not necessarily represent those of CABAR