Imam Rashot Kamalov, a popular Muslim preacher in southern Kyrgyzstan, faces over 10 years in prison for a sermon he gave last summer. Much of the case against him hinges on the words of a frequent witness for the state, a psychologist who speaks neither of the languages used in the sermon but claims a good feel for the “hidden meanings” of body language.
Dina’s son Botir was killed last September fighting in Syria for one of the Islamist groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Six months later, she is not only still struggling to cope with grief, but also facing harassment from Kyrgyzstan’s powerful secret police, the GKNB.
On a normal Friday, Kara-Suu’s Al-Sarahsiy Mosque is packed with thousands of worshipers from across southern Kyrgyzstan. They come to this town of 20,000 to listen to the sermons of Rashot Kamalov, the mosque’s charismatic imam. Kamalov is respected for criticizing brutal and corrupt officials, society's moral decline and Western pop culture.
Militants from the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq have published a video saying that they have asked permission from the group's senior leadership to wage jihad in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik service has reported.
Fears of militant Islam are nothing new in Kyrgyzstan. Over the past decade and a half, Kyrgyz media have warned about a progression of Islamic bogeymen posing a dire threat to the region – including the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Now, there is supposedly a new threat that radiates from distant lands.
Earlier in October, Azerbaijani news media reported the death of a professional Azerbaijani wrestler, Rashad Bakhshaliyev, who was killed in Syria while fighting for the Islamic State. The news, which came as a surprise to many in Azerbaijan, underscores an emerging security threat for Azerbaijan.
In June 2013, when Botir told his parents that he was leaving his village in southern Kyrgyzstan for Turkey to find construction work, they were worried. The 30-year-old shopkeeper had only recently been released from prison after serving a short sentence on terrorism-related charges.
If Rahimjan Makhatov had a radical bent, he kept it well hidden.
Before Kazakh officials announced that the 25-year-old had carried out the country's first suicide attack last week, he was an unremarkable figure. Now, in light of that bombing and another apparent attack today in the capital, he and those who influenced him are under intense scrutiny.