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Kazakh IS Militant Shows Himself Burning His Passport

  • Joanna Paraszczuk

An image from the social-media account of an Islamic State militant called Artyom shows him holding an apparent Kazakh passport.

An image from the social-media account of an Islamic State militant called Artyom shows him holding an apparent Kazakh passport.

An Islamic State (IS) militant who claims to to be from Kazakhstan has posted photographs of himself on social media burning a Kazakh passport that he says is his.

The militant, who calls himself Artyom, said in a now-deleted account on the Russian social network VKontakte that he was from Atyrau, Kazakhstan's main Caspian Sea port.

That account was blocked on June 13, but Artyom has since opened a new account, where he says he lives in Mosul and is aged 30.

In a post on July 2, Artyom is pictured holding a blue passport on which "Republic of Kazakhstan" is written in English and Kazakh.

In a series of photographs, Artyom is shown first stepping on the passport and then burning it.

"O, taghut" -- invoking a term used by IS to refer to the governments of Muslim countries who do not follow IS's version of Shari'a law -- "I have completely renounced you," Artyom wrote in a caption to the photographs. "Now I have my own state. THE ISLAMIC STATE."

Artyom is shown first stepping on the passport and then burning it.

Artyom is shown first stepping on the passport and then burning it.

Artyom claims to be in Iraq with his two children, a girl and a boy who both appear to be under 10.

In a post on June 13, Artyom vowed that he would raise his children "in Islam and in the Islamic State."

The presence of Kazakh nationals in IS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria is a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan, and security services have expressed concerns about radicalization and recruitment by the extremist group, particularly via the Internet.

Nurtai Abykaev, the chairman of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee, said on June 29 that the country faced "a mass recruitment, propaganda, ideological extremism, and terrorism via the Internet" as well as through "the illegal entry into the country of extremist literature by various missionaries."

While Kazakhstan has admitted that radicalization is a problem, the country has downplayed the number of Kazakh nationals it says are in IS-controlled territory.

Abykaev said that there are about 150 Kazakh nationals fighting in Syria and Iraq. With them are over 200 women -- including the widows of militants who have been killed -- and children. The same figure has been quoted by Kazakh officials for months, however.

Kazakhstan has also attempted to block news reporting about the presence of Kazakh militants in Syria and Iraq.

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, Radio Azattyk, reported on June 19 that many readers in Kazakhstan were unable to access its reporting on Kazakh militant Artyom.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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