Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2016, 06:59 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Kazakhstan

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Kazakhstan, 30 May 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51a86e8418.html [accessed 29 July 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: Kazakhstani officials continued to exhibit concern about violent extremism. Several small explosions and gun battles between security forces and suspected violent extremists kept the government on high alert, but terrorist groups have yet to mount a successful, large-scale attack in Kazakhstan. Critics claimed that official measures to counter radicalization and violent extremism were often too heavy-handed, and could result in increasing radicalization. In 2012, the government increasingly used the threat of violent extremism to justify limitations on political opposition and media outlets.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: Security incidents attributed to terrorists or violent extremists generally involved small explosive devices or small arms ambushes, primarily targeting government infrastructure or armed policemen. In several cases, explosions with no reported civilian casualties were attributed to accidental detonations of explosive devices by terrorist groups. Security forces periodically released reports of shootouts with people they described as terrorists. It was unclear, however, how security forces distinguished between terrorist or violent extremist groups and criminal groups. Analysts believe that violent extremist networks in Kazakhstan likely did not physically interact with their counterparts in other regions, but received online training and instructions. Significant incidents included:

  • On July 11, a blast in a village outside Almaty killed eight people. Security forces stated that the explosion occurred in a safe-house where a violent extremist group was attempting to build a bomb. In an August 17 follow-up operation, Kazakhstani security forces killed nine suspected violent extremists who reportedly refused to surrender.

  • On September 12, a week after suspected violent extremists set off an accidental explosion that killed one of their own, Kazakhstani security forces killed at least two more during a raid on an apartment building in Kulsary in western Kazakhstan.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In December, Kazakhstan's parliament approved new legislation intended to clearly delineate and regulate the authorities and responsibilities of government agencies in matters of counterterrorism, and to establish regional counterterrorism commissions.

In April, representatives of border control agencies from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan announced plans to establish an automated system of information exchange in order to more effectively implement counterterrorism measures across their borders.

Throughout the year, Kazakhstani security forces, prosecutors, and courts actively arrested, tried, and convicted dozens of people on charges of terrorism or extremism, including convictions for providing material support to terrorist groups and for dissemination of so-called "extremist materials."

In April, five people were convicted of organizing a November 2011 terrorist attack in Taraz, although the incident involved only a lone gunman. Their sentences ranged from five years to life in prison. In two separate trials in April, 47 defendants were found guilty of organizing bombing attacks on government buildings in Atyrau on October 31, 2011, and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years. The violent extremist group Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) claimed responsibility for that attack.

Government and law enforcement officials in Kazakhstan were motivated to act against perceived terrorist and violent extremist threats in the country. There were concerns, however, regarding Kazakhstan's sometimes heavy-handed response to perceived threats, which critics claimed could exacerbate the spread of extremism. For example, several opposition media outlets were convicted of extremism and ordered to stop operations in 2012 without compelling evidence of involvement in terrorism.

In September, Kazakhstani parliamentarians criticized law enforcement bodies for their tendency to kill all suspected terrorists in shootouts, rather than capture them alive for questioning.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In June, Kazakhstan adopted several changes and amendments to its existing terrorist finance laws to eliminate gaps and contradictions in previous legislation. The Prosecutor General's Office has indicated that it has plans to make lists of organizations that finance terrorism based on information submitted by special services and law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism responsibilities. Based on this information, the Prosecutor General's Office would be able to request that the Financial Monitoring Committee monitor the financial operations of the organization in question.

In October, the Senate ratified a Customs Union treaty on money laundering and terrorist finance. The Customs Union consists of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus.

In October, three defendants in Uralsk were convicted under terrorist finance laws of providing financial support to the Islamic Jihad Union.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Kazakhstan is an active participant in regional counterterrorism efforts, and aspires to be a key regional leader in counterterrorism cooperation. In June, regional representatives met in Almaty to discuss a joint plan of action for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia. In August, expert consultants from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization met in Almaty to discuss upcoming joint activities. In August, Kazakhstani security forces conducted joint counterterrorism drills with counterparts from Russia and Ukraine.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Government of Kazakhstan has undertaken a number of efforts to address radicalization, including some that have negative implications for the country's efforts to meet international human rights norms. For example, a new law on religion mandated the registration of religious groups throughout the country. According to a representative of the Committee for National Security, the registration process did not reveal any terrorist organizations in Kazakhstan, but several religious communities with no links to violent registration complained that authorities denied them registration under the new law. We refer you to the Department of State's Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/) for further information.

According to a spokesperson, the Agency for Religious Affairs scrutinized 1,800 websites for violent extremist content in the first nine months of the year. A representative of Kazakhstan's National Security Council claimed that 950 websites that promoted violent extremism have been shut down since 2010. As part of the government's plan to conduct a large-scale campaign to counter radicalization in society, new legislation requires all media outlets in Kazakhstan to assist state bodies in counterterrorism efforts; one consequence of this legislation is that several legitimate opposition media outlets were declared "extremist" by Kazakhstani courts and ordered to stop operations. We refer you to the Department of State's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/) for further information.

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