How many Central Asians are fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and do they want to return to wage jihad upon their return home? No one knows for sure, but in recent months Russian officials and pundits have sounded the alarm.
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.
For weeks, idle Turkish tanks have been watching from the hills in southeastern Turkey as Islamic State forces pound the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, just a few hundred meters across the border. That lassitude has prompted many Westerners to voice doubts about Turkey’s commitment to eradicating the Islamic State.