2014-10-23 10:01:00

Islamists on rise in C. Asia as CU, SCO expected to expand - expert

Bishkek, October 23, Interfax - The rise in the Islamic State (IS) in the Central Asian region is due to plans to expand the Customs Union (CU and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), says Kadyr Malikov, an expert in Islamic law.

"The intensified activity of the IS emissaries in the region is also due to plans to expand the CU and SCO," Malikov told Interfax.

The unification of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and the IS occurred just as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are preparing to join the CU and Iran is begging to be admitted into SCO, he said.

"The IS has tens of billions of dollars from foreign sponsors, has oil and gas fields, enough people in occupied territories, modern weapons, including heavy armor, and well-practiced modern warfare tactic," Malikov said.

"The IS militants have already 'finalized' the concept of Islam as they see fit and have been actively recruiting our young people in their ranks, playing on their discontent with the secular systems of countries," the expert said.

"Today, by various estimates, about 4,000 young people, men and women, from the Central Asian countries are already under the black banners of the IS, and the danger is growing of them spreading the IS ideology and being actively involved in radical attempts to install a caliphate once they are back in their home countries," he said.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are due to join the CU in 2015-16, and NATO to finally withdraw its forces from Afghanistan around the same time, in 2016, he said. "And almost simultaneously, one will have to expect a rise of the IS in Central Asia," Malikov added.

The IS' latest initiatives over Islam, especially the proposal to blow up one of the Muslim shrines - the Kaaba - under the pretext that one should worship Allah only and not a rock, are "shocking," he said.

"Very soon one should expect emissaries to step up their activity in our region. The countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization should not confine their efforts to tough countermeasures and economic pressure, but get theologians and religious scholars involved in this process," Malikov added.