At the International Conference “Global and Regional Trends of Terrorism and Violent extremism” in Nur-Sultan on February 11, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State Yerlan Karin elaborated on the practical aspects of countering terrorism and the role of Kazakhstan in combating this threat.
Expounding on the January events in the country, it was argued that Kazakhstan faced an extraordinary, ‘hybrid’ case of terrorism, which differed in a combination of various aspects: from the merging of crime and to the information attacks, said Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KAZISS), which organized the event with the Kazakhstan Council on International Relations.
Experts noted there is a broad field for collaboration between international and Kazakh researchers in identifying causes of security problems in Central Asian countries and coming up with solutions.
Acting Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Georgetown University Security Studies Program (SSP) in the US Jacob Zenn noted that in recent times there is a decrease in the spread of the terrorist threat around the world. This is primarily due to the defeat of ISIS and the loss of a number of occupied territories in the Middle East, he said.
In an interview with Astana Times, he argued that the tragic events in Almaty showcased a rather unique type of terrorist incident. “It wasn’t a conventional type of terrorist attack, like a bombing of a hotel,” Zenn was quoted as saying. “There was a large group of people and maybe some of them originally did not intend to engage in militant action, but they got caught up in the violence led by criminal and radical elements,” he opined, adding that it was strange that so far, no known terrorist group behind the events was identified.
The influence of radical groups in the Syrian direction was described in detail by Aymenn Javad, an independent analyst and doctoral student at Swansea University in the UK, also touching upon the topic of the Central Asian Countries’ citizens involved, including Kazakhstan, who took part on the side of the militants.
Another speaker, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, research fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, noted that “when usually something is designated as terrorism, it allows the government to take extraordinary measures to deal with it which I think we saw in Kazakhstan”.
Zenn noted that the level of terrorism in Central Asia is not nearly what we see in other regions of the world. “People suspected that one day because of the Taliban and ISIS it would spread into Сentral Asia, but, in general, terrorism has not taken foothold in this region to nearly the extent as in other regions or to the extent that people have suspected,” he said.