In all my years following news in Central Asia, I have never seen official terrorism statistics quite like those cited by Kyrgyz Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev this week when he announced that the country had 1,279 people registered as terrorists.
During a speech delivered before the Kyrgyz parliament's committee for defense and security issues on January 18, Rysaliev offered details about the registered terrorists' backgrounds and affiliations.
Of the 1,279 "terrorists", according to Rysaliev, 1,192 support Hizb ut-Tahrir, 49 are Wahhabis, 32 are members of the Akramiya movement, and two belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan -- all groups or movements that have been branded extremist and banned throughout Central Asia.
I won't challenge the minister's bold statement, as he is in a much better position to understand his country's affairs.
But his statistics do beg the question of how, exactly, one gets registered with the authorities as a terrorist? And if there is a difference between a registered and unregistered terrorist, just how many unregistered terrorists are there roaming around Kyrgyzstan?
-- Farangis Najibullah