A local newspaper in Kazakhstan has reported that three former employees of law-enforcement agencies in the West Kazakhstan Region (WKR) are fighting in Syria with the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
"Uralskaya Nedelya" (Ural Week) said on December 15 that it learned the information from a source in the WKR prosecutor’s office.
The anonymous source told "Ural Week" that the alleged Islamic State militants include a former chief of the now-defunct Financial Police, a former employee of the regional military office, and a former employee of a WKR correctional system detention facility named Kairzhanov.
"Ural Week" quoted the anonymous source as saying that Kairzhanov had received a summons from Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (NSC) while he was still working at the detention facility, which said that Kairzhanov was in contact with a man named Konys Zhetpisov, who at the time had been remanded in custody.
“The NSC said that both men were supporters of nontraditional Islam (a term used in Russia and other former Soviet states to mean radical Islam) and demanded that they end their contact. Immediately afterward, Kairzhanov resigned and it recently became known he is in Syria with Islamic State militants,” "Ural Week" quoted the source as saying.
Konys Zhetpisov is a former sambo wresting world champion and the former director of a WKR Olympic reserve school. He was arrested last year alongside another man for the alleged embezzlement of 7.9 million tenge and sentenced to eight years in prison. Neither media reports or court records suggest he had any connection with radical Islam or the Islamic State group.
The investigative journalist who wrote the "Ural Week" article, Lukpan Akhmediarov, won the 2012 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism after he survived an attempt on his life. Akhmediarov was charged in February for organizing an “unsanctioned protest” in Uralsk against the devaluation of the Kazakh currency, the tenge.
The report, which has not been independently verified, comes amid increasing concerns in Kazakhstan regarding the threat posed by the Islamic State group and its extremist ideology.
A recent video distributed by the Islamic State group’s media wing showing Kazakh nationals, including children, at a training camp in Syria caused an outcry in Kazakhstan and has been banned and deemed illegal by the authorities.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk