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Experts: Syrian front could attract militants from Central Asia
Material posted: Publication date: 30-06-2013

Russian media reported on the participation of Islamists from Turkmenistan in the fighting alongside the Syrian rebels. Ashgabat called it an attempt of disinformation.

On 23 and 24 June, Russian media reported the capture in the Syrian city of Aleppo Ravshan Gazakov, the commander of the guerrillas, fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition. According to journalists, Gazakov is a citizen of Turkmenistan, as well as several other men of his squad, also captured during the operation of the government troops. According to media reports, Gusakova was confiscated a computer, the contents of which clearly reflected the involvement of its owner in terrorist activities and the preparation of the attacks of suicide bombers. But perhaps the most unexpected message Kazakova was his recognition that initial training as a militant-Islamist it took place near Ashgabat in the unit of a Shaykh of Murad, and after that was transferred to Turkey, and after the briefing, conducted by the curator of "al-Qaeda" in Syria.

Ashgabat refutes foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan on June 25 officially denied the information, handed over to the Russian media about Kasakove, and said that the Turkmen side considers it "as an attempt to mislead the audience". However, questions about the participation of Islamists from Central Asia to the Syrian conflict, and about whether countries in the region to control the actions of radical Islamist groups involved in the recruitment of militants remain relevant. They are of special significance for Turkmenistan, which traditionally claims that in the country all is well. "Apparently, the President of Turkmenistan does not receive accurate information about the network structures operating on the territory of the Republic. While these structures carry out the recruitment work among the Turkmen people for recruitment into their ranks," - said in an interview with DW Russian expert in crisis situations Lev Korolkov. However, he draws attention to the fact that in hot spots abroad is sent to a relatively small number of those whom these structures are recruited. But a significant part remains "home", for the preparation of sabotage in the event of weakening the government, for the systematic decomposition of the state apparatus, including law enforcement agencies, said the expert. Prison as the leading Islamist Natalia Kharitonova

Coordinator of the Eurasian expert network Jeen Natalia Kharitonova indicates that the Turkmen security agencies very strictly stop any religious associations, they are not controlled. However, according to her, in 1990-ies in most prisons of Turkmenistan acted cells of such organizations as "Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Tablighi Jamaat". Given the severe conditions and the difficulty of obtaining transfers from relatives, many serving sentences were forced to turn to mutual funds, are widely practiced within these Islamist groups, says Natalia Kharitonova. Through these communities was carried out involving citizens in the ranks of the Islamists. (Annually in prisons were about 10-15 thousand people, and Amnesty freed thousands 8-13). "In 2000 years there have been a number of incidents involving Islamists that the authorities suppressed, while trying to monitor their activities," says Natalia Kharitonova. Guido Steinberg

German expert: do not believe... However, the presence of Islamist underground in a country automatically is not talking about its members ' participation in combat operations abroad, including in Syria. The expert of the Berlin Foundation "Science and politics" (SWP) Guido Steinberg (Guido Steinberg) doesn't trust the Russian media about Kazakova and does not think that Turkmens are fighting on the side of the rebels in Syria. As citizens of other Central Asian countries, according to the German experts, their activity is restricted to the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There they have their own organizations such as the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). "Perhaps any members ARE living in Turkey, and went to fight in Syria, but it seems to me unlikely that there is a flow of fighters directly from Central Asia", - said DW Guido Steinberg.

In turn, Natalia Kharitonov recalls that the facts of participation of its citizens in the Syrian conflict confirmed some of the countries of the Central Asian region. According to Kharitonova, in Kyrgyzstan this topic in the spring of 2013 has become the subject of the proceedings in Parliament, after which the interior Ministry revealed that only one of the town Kyzyl-Kiya in Syria to the war left seven residents, and more than ten people waiting to be sent to the Syrian front in Turkey. Recruiters explained that in Syria the authorities have been waging war against Muslims. The main goal is to expand the influence of radical Islamists After that Kyrgyz authorities have found that such groups, either in Turkey or already active in Syria, sent there by recruiters from different areas in the South of the Republic. According to the expert, the Islamists recruited several citizens of Kyrgyzstan have managed to bring back from Turkey. "But the Tajik authorities officially announced the death of three citizens of this country who fought on the side of the opposition in Syria," - says the analyst. "In this case there is documentary certified the fact of capture of Aleppo of the citizen of Turkmenistan. In addition, during operations of the Syrian army repeatedly seized the documents of the militants, who testified that they arrived in Syria from Central Asia," says Lev Korolkov. According to him, we are not talking about those fighters who earlier operated in Afghanistan, and now had moved to Syria. "In Syria, the recruits from Central Asia work out new tactics of battle, but in the end they will be again thrown to their homeland. The main purpose of their recruiters is the extension of the zone of influence of radical Islam in Central and South Asia and the middle East", - the Russian expert believes.


Tags: Central Asia , war , Syria

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