Expert: "Global jihadism spread to Central Asia"
Kyrgyz National Security State Committee reported that Akbarzhon Jalilov, a native of the republic, may be the one who carried out terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. Expert of German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Uwe Halbach, commented on the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg and security situation in Central Asia in an interview with German public radio.
"It's absolutely clear that this terrorist attack could have been carried out by a native of Kyrgyzstan, so there are two possible options: first, it's possible that the Islamic State is behind it. After all, there are examples of people joining ISIS in Central Asia. A lot of militants from the Central Asian region went to fight in Syria. We should ask ourselves, what happens when they return home from there? Secondly, Russia itself has a large community of migrants from Central Asia. A lot of those who fought for the ISIS in Syria or Iraq are members of Russia's Central Asian diaspora. But we do not yet know whether it's a single terrorist, who identified himself with the fighters for "global jihad" and the Islamic State, or there's a bigger organization. We just don't know it yet," he noted.
Political scientist recalled that in the global terrorism statistics, Central Asia is far behind some of the neighboring countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Russia. "Over the past 15 years, there were much more terrorist attacks in Russia than in Central Asia. However, there are Islamist cells there.In addition, a lot of militants that fight in Syria came from this region - figures vary, sometimes experts say that about 4 thousand people went to Syria. Global jihadism spread to Central Asia, even if the number of terrorist attacks in this region is much lower than in the North Caucasus and the rest of Russia so far," Uwe Halbach noted.
SWP expert noted that by carrying out military operation in Syria, Russia became a target of terrorists. "Shortly before the beggining of operation in Syria, ISIS declared war on Russia. A terrorist attack was carried out right after that, and ISIS claimed responsibility for it. It'm talking about the crash of Russian passenger aircraft over Sinai. 224 people died as a result of it. The last attack happened recently, Russian national guard was attacked in Chechnya. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for this. So Russia is at war with the ISIS, even if initially Russian military operation only affected the opposition and was aimed at supporting the government of Bashar Assad. However, after the destruction of Russian passenger aircraft, the war against the Islamic State became an extremely important slogan of Russian foreign and security policy," he concluded.
At the same time, expert noted that he doesn't believe Russian authorities will use St. Petersburg terrorist attacl as an instrument in the domestic political context.