Kyrgyzstan’s National Security Minister, Feliks Kulov, announced on February 6 that his agency has uncovered twelve foreign intelligence agents active in the country from January 1997 to January 1998. Ministry officials stated on background that the "largest agent networks" in Kyrgyzstan are those maintained by Pakistan and China. Kulov for his part stated that the Wahhabi Islamic sect poses an additional security threat to Kyrgyzstan, though it is "fully under control at present." Kulov announced that seven armed Wahhabi militants had been detained last December in Osh region on charges of preparing "terrorist acts." (Russian agencies, February 6)
The preceding week, the National Security Ministry’s department for Jalalabad region had announced that it has expelled from the country a militant Imam, identified as A. Karimov and described as a refugee from Tajikistan. The department added that twenty Wahhabis had been expelled last year from Jalalabad region. It did not specify whether the alleged sect members were foreign or native, or the country to which they were expelled. (Radio Tashkent, February 2)
Last year, Kyrgyzstan’s officially approved Moslem Spiritual Department and the National Security Ministry each set up special bodies to monitor radical Islamic activities in Osh and Jalalabad regions. Situated in the south of the country near the border with Uzbekistan, the two regions were the scene of intense religious activity under Soviet rule and continue to be so now. Central Asian secular elites are not infrequently prone to overstating the security threat posed by such activity. Recently some officials have tended to use the term "Wahhabi" rather imprecisely, as a stand-in for Islamic fundamentalists in general. Kulov’s own case seemed weakened by his recent assertion that "Wahhabi" propaganda in Kyrgyzstan stemmed from Iran. (Itar-Tass, December 22)
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