Fears of militant Islam are nothing new in Kyrgyzstan. Over the past decade and a half, Kyrgyz media have warned about a progression of Islamic bogeymen posing a dire threat to the region – including the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Now, there is supposedly a new threat that radiates from distant lands.
Earlier in October, Azerbaijani news media reported the death of a professional Azerbaijani wrestler, Rashad Bakhshaliyev, who was killed in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State. The news, which came as a surprise to many in Azerbaijan, underscores an emerging security threat for Azerbaijan.
In June 2013, when Botir told his parents that he was leaving his village in southern Kyrgyzstan for Turkey to find construction work, they were worried. The 30-year-old shopkeeper had only recently been released from prison after serving a short sentence on terrorism-related charges.
If Rahimjan Makhatov had a radical bent, he kept it well hidden.
Before Kazakh officials announced that the 25-year-old had carried out the country's first suicide attack last week, he was an unremarkable figure. Now, in light of that bombing and another apparent attack today in the capital, he and those who influenced him are under intense scrutiny.
A controversial, opaque US defense initiative to make payments to Taliban fighters who renounce violence has been extended until September 2012. While a large, but unspecified amount of funding is devoted to the program, no one appears to be keeping track of how the money is being spent.
The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan is the only officially recognized, faith-based party in Central Asia. But Tajik President Imomali Rahmon’s administration appears to be taking aim at the party as part of a general crackdown against Islamic extremism.