A boy described as Kazakh undergoing military training in the video. (Al Hayat media)
The Islamic State has released a propaganda video featuring Kazakh-speaking children calling for the slaughter of infidels. This is the latest propaganda effort by the extremist group appearing to target Central Asians.
The 15-minute video, entitled "Race Towards Good" and subtitled in English and Arabic, shows children at a training camp in an undisclosed location, where fighters are “raising tomorrow’s mujahedin,” according to a subtitle.
“I will be the one who slaughters you, O kuffar [infidel],” a Kazakh-speaking boy aged about 10, who gives his name as Abdullah and says he is from Kazakhstan, tells the camera. “I will be a mujahid [holy warrior], insha’allah.”
The high-quality video – apparently released over the weekend – shows young boys loading assault rifles as they undergo weapons training, and also marching with guns and practicing martial arts. [EurasiaNet.org is not posting a link to the video in order to abide by the provisions of Kazakhstan's anti-extremism legislation outlawing the propaganda of terrorism.]
It also features a girl aged around four in a camouflage headscarf cradling a weapon, and ends with an older girl aged around 10 telling the camera in Kazakh: “Right now, we’re training in the camp. We’re going to kill you, O kuffar. Insha’allah we’ll slaughter you.”
The other children sitting with her respond with a resounding cry of “Allahu akbar [God is great]!”
The film also features men firing weapons and completing military-style assault courses, and speaking to camera in Russian and Kazakh about their training.
“Meet some of our newest brothers from the land of Kazakhstan,” says a subtitle. “They responded to the crusader aggression ... and raced to prepare themselves and their children, knowing very well that their final return is to Allah.”
Islamic militancy is high on the agenda in Central Asia. This week, authorities have handed lengthy prison terms at two unrelated trials in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Six people were jailed for between nine and 15 years on terrorism charges at a mass trial involving 66 suspects in southwestern Uzbekistan. A court in central Kazakhstan jailed four citizens for between six and 12 years for recruiting militants to wage holy war in Syria.
At the mass trial in the city of Qashqadaryo in Uzbekistan, three men and three women were jailed on July 22 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of the strongman president, Islam Karimov, and propagating terrorism, RFE/RL reported, citing the Tashkent-based Ezgulik (Compassion) human rights center.
In Kazakhstan, the conviction of the four over the Syria recruitment campaign in and around the city of Zhezkazgan, reported by Tengri News on July 22, came as media reports emerged of a new propaganda video showing 16 people believed to be from Kazakhstan (since some are speaking Kazakh) who have headed off to fight in the Middle East.
Authorities in Central Asia have frequently cited Syria-linked threats this year amid a growing number of reports that militants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are waging holy war in Syria.
In a statement attributed to the IMU, which included this photo montage, the murky terrorist group claimed credit for a June 8-9 attack on Pakistan's largest airport that left at least 39 dead.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – a murky terrorist group that may include jihadis from Central Asia, but likely has little to do with the region these days – has purportedly claimed credit for a deadly June 8-9 attack on Pakistan’s largest airport.
A statement attributed to the IMU began circulating online on June 10. It included photos of 10 men wearing turbans and holding Kalashnikovs, claiming they were IMU fighters who carried out the attack in Karachi as revenge for "bombardments and night attacks with fighter jets" by Pakistani armed forces in the northwestern Waziristan region.
The IMU fighters "wearing their explosive-filled vests" destroyed "many of the fighter jets, American drones and other military planes" in a secret part of the airport, the statement claimed.
The attack left at least 39 dead, including the 10 militants. After securing the airport, Pakistani security forces claimed the gunmen were ethnic Uzbeks. "The militants appear to be Uzbek," Reuters quoted one official as saying.
The IMU emerged in the mid-1990s, but got international attention in 1999 when it clashed with Kyrgyz troops in the Fergana Valley. After its leader Juma Namangani was killed in late 2001 by coalition airstrikes in northern Afghanistan, the group splintered. Analysts believe IMU members have been operating in alliance with other militant networks in Pakistan's tribal areas. The IMU is widely recognized as a terrorist organization by Western governments.
Kazakhstan’s intelligence service believes that around 100 citizens from Central Asia’s richest state are fighting global jihad in foreign lands, it has revealed.
The National Security Committee (known by its Russian acronym KNB) released its estimate of the number of citizens who have left the country to join extremist groups abroad on October 24 to Tengri News. Two days earlier a senior security service official denied reports stemming from a propaganda video circulating online that there are 150 Kazakhstani jihadis from a single family in Syria alone.
Rumors have long circulated that citizens of Kazakhstan are engaged in the extremist struggle abroad. In June KNB Chairman Nurtay Abikayev said there were 100 fighting on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border alone, suggesting that the latest figures may be conservative.
Kyrgyzstan’s Committee on National Security is denying a rumor it appears to have started a few weeks ago. It turns out Kyrgyz citizens aren’t traveling abroad en masse for terrorist training after all. But why is the GKNB -- the successor to the Soviet-era KGB -- toying with the tense country’s emotions like this?
GKNB Deputy Chairman Marat Imankulov now says reports that “over 300 Kyrgyz nationals” have joined international terrorist groups, presumably in Afghanistan and Pakistan, do “not square with reality,” the KyrTAG news agency reported.
“There is no need to talk about mass training of our nationals at militant camps," he said on June 9.
Where did that rumor come from? Six weeks ago, Imankulov’s boss, GKNB Chair Keneshbek Dushebayev said that 400 ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz nationals, that is) were plotting to unleash a wave of terror on the country from foreign training camps. That was an electric claim in Kyrgyzstan where Uzbeks, since last summer’s ethnic violence, are blamed for just about everything. Indeed, Dushebayev has tried repeatedly to link the ethnic violence last summer to Islamic radicals.
Dushebayev is rarely a convincing source, but this latest GKNB disagreement backtracks from a year of dodgy claims – namely, that terrorists are merely a few bullets or bombs from launching a revolutionary assault on the country. Such panic mongering is, though, great for drumming up support.
Authorities in Tajikistan now agree: Military operations in Rasht this week killed Tajikistan’s most wanted man, Mullo Abdullo. (See an earlier post here.)
Blamed for an attack on a military convoy last September that left at least 25 dead, Abdullo was a top commander during Tajikistan’s 1992-1997 civil war. He never accepted the peace treaty and reportedly fled to Afghanistan. In 2009, a few reports surfaced that he had returned to Tajikistan and was living a bin Laden-like existence hiding in the hills around the conservative Rasht District.
That he was alive may shock some.
Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry chief of staff Tokhir Normatov told the Associated Press on April 16 that Abdullo and 14 other militants were killed in an assault using armored vehicles and aircraft. Images of his body were reportedly shown on state television. It is unclear if any civilians or soldiers died in the campaign.
Asia-Plus reports the three-day operation attacked Abdullo and his comrades in a “specially equipped camp where they had been hiding for some time.”