I wrote a piece for the March Diplomat Magazine (it’s an inside job, but I’m not above assigning myself a piece) on what I called the specter of terror in Central Asia. My point is simple: the hype about international Islamic terrorism coming back home to Central Asia to cause chaos is overblown and worse, the hovering ghost of that threat has allowed the region’s leaders to get away with an awful lot.
Central Asia is constantly haunted by the threat of international terrorism. Are the fears justified?
In October 2014, Canadian information security expert Rafal Rohozinski told the audience at an information security conference in Astana, Kazakhstan that the 4000 Central Asians fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq posed a serious risk for the region.
“The big challenge for Kazakhstan is that these guys will go back to their homeland because IS today isn’t something that only happens in Syria and Iraq. This is about the creation of a caliphate, which Kazakhstan should become part of as well,” he said, according to Tengrinews.
Rohozinski’s number was widely circulated. It overshot previous estimates by thousands and fell in line with a common theme: hyping international terrorism as a future domestic threat in the former Soviet states of Central Asia.
The persistent worry throughout Central Asia is that international terrorism will manifest locally. As yet, there has been no sign that it has. The fears reached a high over the last decade of war in Afghanistan to the south, only to explode once again as ISIS marched across the Syrian desert.
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