Through an article in Kyrgyzstan’s leading Russian-language newspaper, Vecherny Bishkek, the State Security Ministry has publicized details of a double conspiracy it claims to have uncovered. The ministry has arrested dozens of members of a group which was allegedly spreading “Wahhabi” religious teaching in Kyrgyzstan while seeking to create a Turkic state in China’s Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. The political refugee from Xinjiang, Kasaraly Jalal, was identified as leader of this group and is among those arrested by Kyrgyz security. According to their account, the Kyrgyz “Chekists” found Islamic “fundamentalist” audio tapes and evidence that the group was recruiting young Kyrgyz for training in Pakistani “terrorist camps.” A criminal case is being prepared against members of the group. (Vecherny Bishkek, May 1, cited by Russian agencies, May 1 and 2).
Uighur and other Muslim-Turkic refugees from China’s Xinjiang province have long been resident in neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. They are as a rule secular, and have used political, nonviolent methods to publicize their cause (see Uighur item below). The Kyrgyz security’s conspiracy story appears politically timed to last week’s visit to China by President Askar Akaev. During the visit, Akaev and the Chinese leaders reaffirmed their joint opposition to “religious extremism and ethnic split-ism.” (Xinhua, Itar-Tass, April 27 and 28) These standard formulae denote Kyrgyz (and Kazakh) official disavowal of Uighur independence aspirations in Xinjiang.
“Wahhabi” (see also Uzbekistan item above) is a term used loosely by post-Soviet officials to designate any type of Muslim “fundamentalism,” often completely unrelated to the Wahhabi sect based in Saudi Arabia. Kyrgyz security has from time to time echoed Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s standard, yet unsubstantiated accusations that Islamic radicals from Central Asia receive “terrorist” training in Pakistani camps. –VS
MUSLIMS CLASH WITH POLICE IN XINJIANG-UIGHURIA.