11 august 2020

Central Asia news

Lost childhood in the «Caliphate»

ISIS prepares suicide children bombers from Central Asia

Recently, Central Asians saw on YouTube a terrible video of how a teenager Babur Israilov from Jalal-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan, became a suicide bomber, undermining armoured car with laden explosives in the Syrian town of Foix. In the video, we can observe how Babur cried before being sent to the death. But one of the fighters encouraged him, by saying in Uzbek language that Satan intervenes at crucial moment to confuse Muslim’s mind, so he should think only of Allah. Further in the video we can hear sentimental Arabic music, armoured personnel carrier movement and, at the fatal moment, the bomb explosion. As it was published on Radio Liberty, this event happened on September 18th, 2015 but spread online by ISIS propaganda resource “Al-Hayat Media Centre” only recently. According to the British edition of "Dailymail.com", Babur Israilov was a member of an extremist group of Uzbeks «Imam Bukhari Jamaat», which fights alongside with Al Qaeda in Syria. The young man from Kyrgyzstan blew himself up in the villages of Fuel in Syria province.

It was a real shock for all of us, especially for God-fearing Muslims of the Fergana Valley, who watched the whole suicide bombing act on the screen. And now I witnessed my countryman from Jalal-Abad (where the famous Kyrgyz tobacco is grown, the one Stalin sent to Winston Churchill during the Second World War) blow himself up in front of a cheering jihadists. At that moment, I thought that the real world came to the cities and streets of Central Asia. Central Asia is considered a cradle of Islamic civilization, and it gave the world great Muslim scholars such as Al-Bukhari, al-Tirmidhi, al-Sarakhsi and al-Farabi. Children committing suicide under the false slogan of "Jihad” made me cry and pray: "Oh, Allah, forgive your sinful sons, those who kill themselves, and those who deliberately push themselves to death!”

Islam prohibits all kinds of violence, including violence against one’s own body, and killing other people. Suicide is fundamentally contrary to the teachings of Islam. Allah says in the Quran: “Do not kill yourselves by adopting unlawful means. Indeed Allah is Merciful to you” (Nisa/29). Suicide considered an unpardonable sin from an Islamic point of view. Sharia consideres suicide a crime, punished by eternity in hell. Islam forbids intihar (suicide) and condemns those who are pushing children to intihar. But the leader of the terrorist group "Islamic State» (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his accomplices, brutally violate the provisions of Allah by distorting the rules of the Quran and pushing to the death hundreds of children. They deprive them of their most precious thing-life. When I see on the Internet, the acts done by children of “Caliphate”, who coldly and cruelly execute prisoners, my soul torns apart from the pain ... “O Allah, let the ISIS burn in the eternal fire of hell, which pushes children to suicide and denigrates peaceful religion of Islam”.

Babur Israilov

The video of the suicide Uzbek boy, Babur Israilov, is not the only ISIS propaganda material, which depicts children of “caliphate” in Central Asia. In January of 2015, Russian-language "Al-Hayat Media Center» (Al Hayat Media Centre) of an Islamic state has spread videos, showing how Kazakh children in Syria execute two Russian FSB agents. In the beginning of April 2016, two videos were posted on YouTube channel in which a resident of Osh Abu Amin from Kyrgyzstan is sitting with his grandson, and on another video an armed Kazakh boy dressed in camouflage uniform is threatening the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. In these two video materials, ISIS urges the Central Asians to come with their families and to protect the “Caliphate” where good conditions are created for the education of children in the spirit of Islam.

How many children from Central Asia are in ISIS camps?

According to the special services of Kyrgyzstan, about 140 minors were deported from the Republic of Iraq and Syria, who are now held in the military training bases of ISIS. Among them, the vast majority of children are under the age of 14, especially, 85 children are up to 10 years of age, 25 children are up to 14 years, 11 children - up to 16 years, and four girls are under the age of 18 years.

Authorities do not report how many children came to Islamic State from the Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But according to the human rights organizations more than 600 children from Central Asia are on the territory of Syria and Iraq that is controlled by ISIS. This number is based on the fact that most children were brought into the conflict zone by their own parents. According to various estimates, ISIS consist of about 3,000 religious extremists, who were recruited from Central Asia. Number of children from the former republics of the Soviet Union can vary a lot, and no one can pin point the exact number. There are many cases where women from Central Asia gave birth in the Caliphate to create a new generation of children of war. These children will only know the violence and nothing else. Radio “Liberty Uzbek” analyst of the National Security Service (NSS), Husan Mamurov has reported that there were even attempts to recruit Russian obstetricians from the Fergana Valley to Syria. A young doctor from Samarkand, Fakhriddin Muhiddinov, told the local media that he refused the offer of the recruiters. Another physician, Abdulraim Bozorov, informed the “Liberty Uzbek” editors that neither he nor his colleagues would join the group despite the extremely low doctors salaries in Uzbekistan. This indicates that children population is growing in ISIS. Especially, since many of them have little or no opportunity to escape from the Islamic state, comparing to adults.

President of «Quilliam» Foundation, Noman Benotmane, did a conceptual analysis of life, studies and terrorist skills of children in the Islamic state. He said that «It is clear that enrolling (to establish quantity) children into the armed groups is now a major problem in Iraq and Syria, with many organisations, including ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) recruiting children and adolescents».

An estimated 50 children, from the UK alone, are growing up under ISIS.

According to the “Children of the Islamic State” report, there are several categories of children in the ‘Caliphate’ – children of foreign fighters, children of local fighters, abandoned children, children that are forced to enroll (either from ISIS controlled orphanages or those children that are abducted), and from voluntary recruits. Together they form what is known as «Cubs of the Caliphate».

Militants from the extremist group “Islamic State" teach children cruelty in order to grow a new generation of terrorists. According to the stories of the local journalists, some children from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were trained in the the ISIS "Ashbal al-hilyafa" ("Cubs of the Caliphate") camps. Jihadists force children to watch the murders and to play football with severed heads. According to the «Quilliam» research, children and young people are the best fighters because they are introduced to the violence from a very early age. Promotional videos often show how ISIS is training children in the camps. For example, residents of the South Kazakhstan region were horrified when they recognized a little boy, who lived next door to them, killed captives through the orders of senior militants. Some children from a young age are prepared for the role of suicide bombers by the deliberate brainwashing ideas of jihad and martyrdom. Those who do not want to become martyrs are mainly being tortured, raped or killed.

Political elite of Central Asia is seriously concerned about the repatriation of trained suicide bombers, such as Uzbek boy Bobur Israilov. No one can guarantee that the children who returned from that area, will not apply their skills in the Ferghana Valley, where the conflicts based on religious extremism is very high. Especially in the region with high activity of the radical Islamic groups, such as "Hizb ut-Tahrir" the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Wahhabi-takfiri of "Salafi", who sympathize and secretly support the Islamic State. If a spark of religious conflict will flame in the Ferghana Valley, then the light will almost immediately reach all states of Central Asia. Generated fire will be very difficult to extinguish. It is not by chance that Zbigniew Brzezinski defines this area as the "Eurasian Balkans" (Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Grand Chessboard. NY, 10022, 1997).

The Islamic state has already created childrens army of religious extremists. And now the secular Central Asian states will have to fight them for many years. For the recrutiment and education of children, ISIS focuses on those areas of the world where construction of the Caliphate will have a strong and a fertile background in the future. Therefore, the Ferghana Valley in Central Asia has all the necessary conditions. These are authoritarian power, corrupted power structures, suppression of religious freedom, economic poverty, high unemployment, and criminal prosecution of Islamic leaders and influential underground jihadists. Islamic state sets its strategic goals through children: «ISIS leaders pay particular attention to children in their territory, because the future of any state lies with the next generation. Therefore, the ‘caliphate’ is investing heavily in indoctrinating children with IS extremist ideology as early as possible. Having been introduced to ideology at a young age, children are more likely to consider it as normal, and therefore defend its practices. Thus, the indoctrination has both tactical and strategic value for IS. Not only can children help to meet the present needs of the ‘caliphate’, but also once they grow up, they will continue to propagate its existence and expansion, thus securing its long-term survival».

Since March of 2016, international coalition led by the United States launched a series of attacks on targets and manpower of ISIS. Soldiers of the “Caliphate” were defeated on the battlefield. Thanks to Allah, “Caliphate” territory began to shrink. Jihadists were forced to hand over Palmyra. The next step is Iraqi city of Mosul. With the weakening of the Islamic state, and the loss of fighting spirit, Central Asia began to return its citizens who fought on the side of the ISIS. According to the Kyrgyz security services representative, Rakhat Sulaimanova, more than 100 have already returned from Syria and were brought to criminal responsibility (who returned from Syria are involved mainly in two articles of the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan: 226-4 "participation in armed conflicts or military actions" and 375 "Mercenary").

Kyrgyzstan wants a court for children at the age of 14?

Kyrgyz authorities are unable and unwilling to provide preventive work to the "children of Caliphate" who returned to their homeland. The law enforcement agencies prefer the repressive methods of punishment and prosecution instead of preventive maintenance. With each passing day, the pressure on the children and their parents, who had joined the extremist group of ISIS, is more and more intensive. The Social Democratic Party that belongs to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has initiated a draft law to strengthen the penalties for the children who participate in illegal armed groups. At the end of March 2016, committee on Social Affairs, Education, Science, Culture and Health of Kyrgyzstan has started discussion of the bill. According to the author of the draft law, MP Kyyanbek Satybaldiyev, bill is considering to strengthen penalties for those who are involved in certain crimes such as: the financing of terrorism, calling or engaging in extremist activity, harboring extremists, the passage of an extremist training or participation in hostilities abroad. The draft law proposes to deprive those who are involved in all the steps listed above, from the exemptions, preferences, right of amnesty or early release for any other reasons. In addition, it is proposed to bring children above 14 years of age to justice for the crimes that are mentioned above. According to the MP, this measure will prevent the involvement of adolescents in illegal activities and radical religious groups. Under the current law the criminal liability involves children starting from 16 years of age.

The bill provoked a strong reaction among the Kyrgyz society. Human rights organizations and NGOs have opposed this bill because, in their opinion, it is contrary to the UN Charter and the Geneva Convention, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. But the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan representative, Raim Salimov, supported the strengthening of the criminal responsibility of adolescents.

On May 10 of 2015, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan, declared to their citizens who are in the Islamic state, that if they will voluntarily return and repent for their involvement in the wars in Syria, Iraq and other countries, then they will be exempted from the criminal liability. But after the closure the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on September 29 of 2015, and the demonstrative arrest of its active members, the religious radicals have decided not to return back home because of the fear of prosecution and political repression. This actually disrupted the conditions of peace agreement in 1997 which finished the bloody five-year civil war in Tajikistan.

Children Rejected by the society are looking for shelter

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan law enforcement agencies of have no clear work plan that deals with the "children of Caliphate" who return from Syria. The government has failed to develop a program of adaptation of children at home which exists in Finland. It is important priority for government agencies, to integrate old religious extremists to a new, peaceful society, and bring them to civilian life back. However nothing has been done in this area so far. The state has no money in order to implement this program. The power structures, social institutions and the local authorities of the Central Asian states are unable to work with radical Islamic groups. The court in the Central Asian countries banned the activities of the parties such as "Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami" radical groups, "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan", "Jund al Khilafah", "Ansarulloh", "Al-Takfir Val-Hijra", "Akromiya "" Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari "," Jannat oshiklari "("paradise Fans")," Islamic jihad Union ", the Wahhabi-takfiri for "Salafi ". According to an old tradition, security agencies prefer to work with repressive methods. Police officers and prosecutors drive them deep underground through the arrest, prosecution and intimidation of religious radicals and ethnic minority. In fact, radicals are detached from the society and the state. But this does not solve the problem of Islamic radicalism. On the other hand, supporters of the extremist groups are waiting for an opportunity to throw out the accumulated anger and resentment against the power authorities. In this sense, ISIS turned out to be a convenient strategy for them.

Now, the fighters and the "children Caliphate" began returning from Syria to Central Asia. Some of them have disappointment in relation to the ISIS. But in addition to the prosecution, the state structures are not working with them at all. They are thrown overboard. Local government does not give them a chance to integrate into the civilian life. On April 15 of 2016, my countrymen, citizens of the Kyrgyz village Kazharov in Jalal-Abad, decided to evict villager H.Mahmudov with his family. The reason was that, one of the sons of Makhmudov, who was student of madrasa at the age of 20 years left in 2015, to join ISIS in Syria and died there. In March, the villagers unsuccessfully attempted to evict the parents of jihadist twice.

I am very sorry to my fellow countrymen, whose ancestors had lived in the neighborhood together for centuries within the same village. They are now evicting Makhmudov’s family, who is already immersed in deep sorrow. And now should mothers and fathers of jihadists go? They have absolutely nowhere to go or take asylum. Local government pushes them deep into nowhere. I'm afraid that Makhmudov’s parents have only one road - the road to the Islamic state in Syria...

Bitter and sad...

ISIS took the life of my countryman...

ISIS is now taking home of his parents...

Uran Botobekov, Doctor of Political Science (PhD), expert on Political Islam

Fergana international information agency