Posts Tagged ‘Kazakhstan’

 

Yesterday another band of terrorists was destroyed in Kazakhstan. On the same day, another man with an arsenal of explosives and ammunition was detained. Such cases have become so frequent in Kazakhstan that they are no longer seen as something extraordinary. Yet not so long ago reports of an emerging terrorist underground were seen as conspiracy theory nonsense. Let’s look at the situation one year after the wave of terror began in Kazakhstan.

Minus five

The Atyrau region yesterday was roiling with unrest. Law enforcement officials have discovered a band of terrorists in one of the apartment of a residential high-rise building. The area was cordoned off, residents evacuated, and the bandits were ordered to surrender. But the bandits responded with gun fire and detonated several explosives, injuring one special ops trooper. In the resulting assault five terrorists were killed and another wounded and taken to hospital.

Interestingly, detectives discovered this group while investigating another terrorist cell. A week earlier in Atyrau a Kazakh citizen blew himself up, having apparently mishandled an explosive device. Three more home made bombs were later found in his apartment. The dead man’s associates, discovered as a result of the investigation, let the police to the group which was subsequently destroyed yesterday.

Also yesterday, a resident of the Alma-Ata region was seized with a fully fledged military arsenal: three sticks of TNT, one RGD-5 hand grenade without a fuse, a fuse to the hand grenade, a fully loaded Makarov magazine, 153 rounds of 9mm cartridges and an EDP-1 electronic detonator.

News from the Front

The fact of the matter is that something terribly wrong is going on in Kazakhstan that even the blind can see. This is a partial list of recent high-profile incidents in Kazakhstan:

– August 17, 2012. Nine terrorists were killed in the course of a special operation near Alma-Ata;

– August 14, 2012. 11 people slaughtered in the Ile-Alatau National Park by unknown attackers;

– July 11, 2012. Self-explosion in Tuasamaly. Weapons and extremist literature were found on the scene. According to some reports the bomb was intended for Nazarbayev;

– May 31, 2012. Unidentified attackers shot 12 people from NATO-standard weapons on the border of  the Alma-Ata region;

– May 25, 2012. Police raided a resident of Ridder, seizing an arsenal of explosives and ammunition. On the same day another weapons cache was found;

– December 16, 2011. Oil workers strike in Zhanaozen. Unexpectedly stiff resistance from the police and the professional organization of the protest suggests participation of foreign coordinators;

– December 3, 2011. A band of 5 terrorists was destroyed in the Alma-Ata region in a special operation;

– November 12, 2011. Bandits made a real show of shooting grenade launchers, pursuing and killing  police officers in Taraz;

– November 8, 2011. In Alma-Ata gunmen attacked a patrol unit, killing two police officers;

– October 31, 2011. Two explosions in Atyrau, one of which was a suicide bombing.

Again, this is not a complete list of events. Most experts agree on the idea that the Kazakh secret services were unprepared for such a rapidly deteriorating situation. As a result the country is taking urgent steps to increase the powers of the National Security Committee (analogue of the Russian FSB, the Federal Security Service).

Me, worry?

That was the question asked by many of our Russian readers when the wave of terror began in Kazakhstan and, unfortunately, continue to ask now. Recall that Russia and Kazakhstan share the longest land border (7000 km), which in many areas is not controlled or monitored in any meaningful way. Destabilization of Kazakhstan will lead to a stream of refugees, drug traffic, terrorism and arms exports to Russia. Take a look at what is happening in Syria and its neighbors, and then compare the extent of their borders and ours. Get the picture?

Of course, this is the worst case scenario. But let us remember where destabilize began in Kazakhstan. It started with the adoption of a law on religion, which was condemned by the West as anti-democratic, and which caused various extremist groups to issue statements of jihad to the Kazakh authorities. In one such statement the band calling themselves Jund al-Khalifa, commented a series of explosions in Kazakhstan: “The two explosions were a warning to the government … if in the future we will not see that they listened to our requirements, we swear … that the next attack will bring rivers of blood. ”

President Nazarbayev himself at the time gave a very accurate description of what was happening: “The experience of recent years proves against and again that terrorism is a product of very particular forces having a very specific purpose. Historically, modern terrorism has its roots in political and economic issues. It is strongly associated not only with transnational crime, drug trafficking and arms smuggling. Unfortunately, it also has geopolitical origins.”

So far, the situation in Kazakhstan is developing along a negative scenario and the trend is worsening. Ahead is the withdrawal of the international coalition forces from Afghanistan, with possible transfer of US military bases to other Central Asian republics, which will lead to the spread of extremism across the region. In this situation, it would be logical for Russian anti-terrorism experts to provide maximum support to Kazakh law enforcement forces, and indeed, this is taking place. However, Russia has its own set of problems with two carefully fueled regions – Dagestan and Tatarstan. This means that all of us are in for some very unsettling times.

 

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Russia in the Grip of Terror

Russia in the Grip of Terror

We rarely write about events in the North Caucasus, and we realize that this probably isn’t correct. Somehow, destruction of militant groups in places such as Aleppo in Syria seems to elicit a much greater response from us than the destruction of bandits in the Caucasus. This isn’t because we are indifferent to the fate of our homeland, but rather because we would like to avoid any harm that may be caused by an inappropriate comment or assessment of the situation. However, there are times when the chilly Caucasian breeze reaches our cozy armchairs, and we are forced to pay attention. Events that took place over the weekend were no exception.

Recent terrorist attacks in Ingushetia and Dagestan stand out from an unfortunately long chain of similar crimes as being particularly cynical. Alas, we are all too familiar with this breed of terror. It is a very distinguishing feature that sets the so-called “freedom fighters” of the never ending Arab Spring apart from their brothers in arms elsewhere: they backstab at a time and place where violence is prohibited by any religion, moral values and rules of war.

Unidentified assailants fired at a mosque congregation in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan, injuring 7 civilians and killing one person. The number of casualties could have been substantially higher if two of the bombs found later on site went off; fortunately this did not happen.

In Ingushetia, a bomber made his way into the funeral ceremony of a local policeman, Ilez Korigovym, who was earlier gunned down by unidentified bandits, and blew himself up in the crowd of mourners. Eight people were killed and another 15 seriously injured.

All of these attacks occurred in the midst of one of the most revered Muslim holidays – Eid al-Adha, marking the end of Ramadan. This reminded us of all the other similarly bitter stories we had reported on in the past: a bombing of a Shiite funeral procession in Iraq, shelling of a mosque in Syria, Islamist assaults on churches in Nigeria and Kenya, wedding executions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and so on. However, back then it all seemed far away and on the verge of being out of this world; terrible, to be sure, but also impersonal. But the swelling wave of terror in the Caucasus shows that the enemy is not even on our front porch. The enemy is already inside the house.

But forget the Caucasus for a moment. Just today a car was blown up in Kazan, pretty much the center of Russia. Fortunately, this happened in an unpopulated area, so there were no innocent casualties this time. Judging by the fact that remnants of three people, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and bits of religious literature were found within 50 meters from the blast site, the explosion was an unintentional accident. But who knows what could have happened had these people armed the bomb successfully? By the way, President Putin is scheduled to arrive in Kazan for Republic Day celebrations on August 30th. One can’t help but wonder whether this bomb blast was part of a planned “warm welcome” for the President? By the way, few people took notice, but responsibility for the recent attempted murder of the chief mufti of Tatarstan and his assistant was claimed by a group of religious extremists.

The situation is no better with Russia’s closest neighbors (in terms of geography and relationships). Kazakhstan continues to be shocked by a series of mysterious murders. After the shooting of 14 border guards at the Arkankergen outpost, another tragedy occurred in the Ile-Alatau park of Almaty, where 12 people were wantonly slaughtered under peculiar circumstances. This weekend Kazakh riot police destroyed a group of nine terrorists. Just weeks ago reports of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan were unheard of, but now they are becoming so commonplace that you’d think it was the North Caucasus.

And the situation is nowhere close to being back to normal this week. On Monday a platoon of soldiers was shot at in Khasavyurt, and in Kabardino-Balkaria there was a failed attempt to assassinate the chief of criminal police. Come fall things will likely get even worse, because the link between terrorists and domestic opposition is growing every day. Parliament Deputy Ilya Ponomarev is proposing to create battle units capable of fighting in the streets. Alexander Belov, leader of the “Russians” movement, is taking this proposal a step further, offering to use the Egypt and Libya experience as a blueprint for government resistance. Can all this be a recipe to create a “Russian Aleppo?”

E. Super