28 september 2020

Central Asia news

Qorasuv imam interrogated by the National Security Service and set free again

30.05.2006 00:31 msk

Alisher Saipov

Religious life

Muhammadrafik Kamalov, imam of the mosque in Qorasuv in southern Kyrgyzstan, was arrested by the National Security Service and released twenty-four hours later, on Thursday night, after the believers' protests.

"I received summons to the Qorasuv office of the National Security Service for May 24 morning. Twenty officers of the regional division had come from Osh. They said I had gunmen hiding at my place and they wanted to know if the gunmen were armed. They said they needed the information to decide if they should approach the household wielding assault rifles or if firearms would suffice. I said there were no gunmen at my place," Kamalov said.

Officers of the National Security Service said they had proof of the imam's involvement with the gang that had attacked outposts of Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards.

On May 12, five or six armed criminals attacked a Tajik and Kyrgyz outposts and a customs service post. Two Tajik border guards murdered in cold-blood, the attackers seized weapons and munitions and drove into Kyrgyzstan in the Mercedes commandeered from a local. Kyrgyz security structures mounted an operation, killing four criminals and taking one alive. Kyrgyz servicemen reported losses too: six killed and eight wounded.

Kyrgyz security structures assume that the attack was mounted by religious extremists.

Officers of the Kyrgyz National Security Service claim that they found on the body of one of the killed gunmen the "Faith Brochure" by Kamalov. Its cover had the imam's phone number in Qorasuv printed on it.

Kamalov himself does not think that the discovered book implicates him in the least.

"Officers of the National Security Service wielding assault rifles and firearms searched my place. They had the search warrant and summoned my neighbors as witnesses. I was afraid they would plant munitions or high explosives... Allah be praised, they didn't. They only confiscated video and audio tapes, and floppy disks. In fact, they examined everything," Kamalov said.

Kamalov was questioned at the detention cell of the Osh regional office of the National Security Service. Interrogators wanted to know if he had anything to do with the gunmen who had attacked outposts. They also wanted to know what he thinks of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Takhir Yuldashev, Wahhabi, and Hizb-ut-Takhrir.

"Thousands read the books I wrote. Thousands ask me questions. The book found on someone or my phone number do not mean I have anything to do with the person. I have been the imam here for 25 years. Isn't it enough to understand who I am?" the imam said.

The mosque in Qorasuv is one of the major religious centers of southern Kyrgyzstan. Moderate Moslems and local activists of the outlawed Hizb-ut-Takhrir attend it. Popularity of the mosque and so many attenders are attributed to the imam's tolerance.

When told of the imam's arrest, the faithful informed the district and municipal authorities that there would be a protest action unless the imam was released before Friday.

Kamalov was released late at night on May 25. He does not know what else to expect from security structures.

The imam told the faithful on May 26 of what had taken place and asked them to refrain from protest actions.