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Bulgarian expert presents portrait of extremist from Kazakhstan 12 января 2015, 12:04

Member of the International Association for the Study of Terrorism presents findings of рук study into the roots of extremism in Kazakhstan.
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A fighter of the Islamic State holds black IS flag. ©REUTERS/STRINGER A fighter of the Islamic State holds black IS flag. ©REUTERS/STRINGER

About three hundred militants from Kazakhstan fighting in Syria are individuals with higher or vocational secondary education, aged between 26 and 36, who had an average income, Tengrinews reports citing Vlast.kz.

The statistical portrait of Kazakh jihadists was presented in her report by Sofia University Professor Tatiana Dronzina, an anti-terrorism expert from Bulgaria, at a conference dedicated to combating religious extremism and terrorism on December 19, 2014, organized by the Attorney General of Kazakhstan.

According to Dronzina, there are 200 nationals of Kazakhstan fighting for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and an additional 300 for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Dronzina, member of the International Association for the Study of Terrorism, conducted her study based on the stories of 26 jihadists and presented the findings during the conference.

In her study she introduced four groups of variables: demographic characteristics (age, place of residence, family, parents, civil status, children, education, occupation, economic status, religious views); the story of departure; the view of families, relatives and friends on the personal characteristics of the jihadists; and the recruitment motivation and the current state and whereabouts of the militants.

The first group of variables showed that all of the militants were adults of an average age of 26-36 years. They came from various parts of Kazakhstan but there was a tendency for group departure from several localities, which Dronzina did not specify. Most of the militants were married and had 2 or 3 kids. Their level of education was above average in Kazakhstan.

“I especially would like to emphasize that they are not illiterate. (…) This decision is not the result of ignorance. Most probably we must look for the causes elsewhere," Drozina said.

The expert also concluded that there were no unemployed among those who left to join the radical groups. In most of these cases they were not dissatisfied with their financial situation, however.

The expert from Bulgaria said that none of the relatives or family members could identify these men as being prone to aggression or violence.

"I think that these are people with a certain social maturity, so maybe it's time we think that neither youth nor unreason are responsible for these individual decisions," Dronzina declared.

Another conclusion that the Professor came to was that most of the militants were recruited in Kazakhstan. She didn’t find substantial any evidence to determine that the Internet caused the processes of self-radicalization and self-recruitment.

In addition, under fictitious names on the Internet the expert tried to contact terrorists and find out the mechanism of joining them and finding means of getting into Syria. But she understood that obtaining such information was not easy and receiving complete instructions was impossible. For example, one needed to first travel to Istanbul, then to Syria, gaining more details with each step.

Therefore, she suggests, some trained individuals in Kazakhstan organized the recruitment. “This is still a speculation, though," she clarified.

In any case, Dronzina stressed that Kazakhstan needed to talk more about the Islamic State as a criminal organization, expose its crimes and inhumane acts, such as the killings of 200,000 people and sexual enslavement of thousands of women. “It is necessary to show that these supposedly heroic fighters are in fact just criminals," she said.

By Dinara Urazova

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