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Number of people joining ISIS is decreasing: Kazakh political scientist Yerlan Karin

©REUTERS ©REUTERS

According to Kazakhstan’s political scientist Yerlan Karin, the number of fighters that the ISIS, also known as Daish (Arabic acronym for ISIS) is luring has been decreasing, Tengrinews reports.

Thus, the terrorist group, which has been seizing territories of Syria and Iraq since it declared a caliphate back in June 2014, now resorts to the most sophisticated methods to attract supporters from all parts of the world, he said.

“Daish group has long been facing the shortage of recruits because of various objective circumstances. They lack new supporters. Despite the news about being people arrested on their way to Syria to join the militants, in general, the flow of recruits is declining. But the problem is still acute,” Yerlan Karin told Tengrinews.

Under the circumstances, according to the expert, “the group had to use new information tools to attract so to speak 'a fresh blood'. Therefore, the group has published several online journals over the last six months, including one in the Russian language”.

Yerlan Karin also said that even in their last video called A Message to the People of Kyrgyzstan, they, in fact, target not only the Kyrgyz people, but all the potential recruits, while pursuing the only goal – to lure new supporters. The nine-minute video was posted on YouTube last Saturday, but was deleted hours later. Currently, Kyrgyzstan's relevant state agencies are conducting an examination of the material.

Yerlan Karin also believes that Kazakhstan’s special services finally managed to lower the number of Kazakhstan’s citizens leaving the country to fight for the Daish through the measures they undertook, including blocking various recruiting channels within the country.

In last year's November, Chairman of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee declared that around 300 Kazakhstanis were fighting alongside the Daish, with half of them being women. 

What poses a problem for counter-terrorist agencies is an incredible success of the group in recruiting new members, including ones from Western countries, compared to other similar groups. Currently, more than 20,000 foreigners are fighting for the Daish, with all of them coming from very different backgrounds.

Besides, Yerlan Karin also spoke about the recent special operation carried out by the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) of Kyrgyzstan, during which four alleged terrorists were eliminated and another seven members of the group were arrested. 

Following the incident, the press service of the SCNS said that the group included citizens of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and was led by a 27-year-old citizen of Kazakhstan Zhanbolat Amirov. In June 2015 he, along with another man from Kazakhstan, 24-year-old Albert Abkhin, escaped from a penal colony in Kyrgyzstan. Later, during the operation to arrest Abkhin, Abkhin committed suicide bombing, while Amirov managed to escape and was on the wanted list.

Press secretary of the National Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan Rakhat Sulaimanov then said that the terrorist organization was linked to the Islamic State. 

However, the Kazakh expert doubts that the group was somehow related to the Daish 

“Yes, the eliminated persons might be actually members of some radical group or just supporters of certain radical ideologies. But the reports of them being members of the Daish raise doubts. First, the liquidated militants were in prison before, so it is unlikely that they could maintain contact with any channels (of Daish) abroad or plan any actions together with them. True, prisons have long turned into recruiting centers, however, to discuss and promote radical ideas is one thing, but to plan some actions is a far more complicated process,” he explained.

According to Yerlan Karin, if that was true, then “the Daish group would definitely release a relevant message, either in the form of text, video or audio, declaring that the eliminated militants were their members. But there was no material of such kind”.

Karin brought up the recent video message of Daish as evidence. “We have watched and analyzed it. It mainly targeted a more general audience. There was no message directly to Kyrgyz people. But what is most important is that this video does not provide any comments on the recent events in Bishkek,” expert said adding that sometimes small radical groups tend to act in the name of a larger organization to look more important, in this case they were using the name of Daish.

"However, even if the Daish confirmed its link to that group, then we would have to treat this information carefully,” Karin noted, explaining that such organizations often tend to claim responsibility for the incident in order to maintain its activities.

In any case, Yerlan Karin is convinced that special services should conduct a more thorough work and do not rush to make statements, which, on the contrary, help the information strategy of radical groups.

Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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