A Kazakh citizen studying in the Russian city of Novosibirsk has allegedly tried to recruit his fellow students to join the Islamic State group, security authorities in Novosibirsk have said.
Aleksei Kirillov, the deputy chief of Novosibirsk's Main Directorate of the Interior (GUMVD), told Russia's RAPSI Legal Information Agency on February 5 that the suspect is from Pavlodar in northeastern Kazakhstan and had come to Novosibirsk to study. After he failed to convince students in Novosibirsk to join the Islamic State group, the Kazakh student allegedly left for Syria.
"We have uncovered recruitment to [the Islamic State group]. A student and native of Kazakhstan from Pavlodar has gone to Syria. For a year and a half he studied in one of our educational establishments. He lived in the same room as other students but could not convince them and he left," Kirillov said.
According to Kirillov, the attempted recruitment was an isolated incident and the local police were working to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Kirillov's comments have been widely reported on February 6 across local and national Russian media, including in the Russian government daily Rossiskaya Gazeta, reflecting the growing public interest and concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State.
That the alleged recruiter in Novosibirsk was a foreign student fits the dominant narrative expressed in the Russian media that radicalization and recruitment was linked to outside agents rather than inherently being a Russian problem.
The news story was not reported in the Kazakh press, however. Kazakhstan has recently banned videos that show Kazakh nationals in the Islamic State group, and has denied that two men shot by an apparently Kazakh child militant were in fact Kazakh nationals, even though one of the men identified himself as being from the Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan.
Russian media reported this week that the authorities are conducting around 58 criminal investigations into suspected cases of individuals joining or recruiting for Islamic State, which Russia's Supreme Court blacklisted as a terrorist organization in late December.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk