WASHINGTON – Central Asian officials are voicing concern over the prospect of renewed Islamist attacks once the United States and troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
In spite of continued security concerns in Afghanistan, U.S. officials still are planning for withdrawal, but could leave up to 10,000 U.S. troops behind, although that would be totally insufficient to deal with any resurgence of the Taliban there.
Tokon Mamytov, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security of Kyrgyzstan, voiced concern over the “danger of an incursion from Afghanistan into Kyrgyzstan in 2013 or 2014.”
The concern is that many of the foreign fighters now in Afghanistan will return to their respective home countries and continue waging battles throughout the Central Asian countries.
Kabdulkarim Abdikazymov, deputy chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee, voiced similar concerns, saying that the Jund al-Khilafa was a major threat to Kazakhstan’s national security.
This concern has been heightened by the fact that following the then-Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, many of the foreign fighters from Southeast Asia returned to their home countries and used their logistical networks and skills to form indigenous terrorist groups.
Some of these included the Kumpulan Mujahideen in Malaysia, the Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.
Now, Central Asian leaders see the prospect of a repeat in their own countries.
Groups of primary concern include the Jund al-Khilafah of the North Caucasus and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Sources say that this group has international operational capabilities but has some 300 Kazakh militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, thereby raising concerns.
There also is the IMU – the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – which has outreach not only in that country but has elements in neighboring Kazakhstan.
Another group which could pose a threat to Kazakhstan is the Ansar al-Din, which until now hasn’t launched attacks in that country but has issued a number of video statements critical of the Kazakh government.
In recent video statements monitored by Western analysts, fighters said that once they achieve victory in Afghanistan, their “goal” is to carry their fight to their “sphere of interest” in Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan.
China also is expressing increased concern.
Many of the fighters are the Uighurs from China’s western-most autonomous region.
Their militant group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, currently is based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Sources say that the TIP also has elements in Syria fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Meng Honwei, China’s vice minister of public security, said that recent attacks in China were “signs that the ‘East Turkistan’ terrorists are flowing back.” He also expressed concern that “they are very likely to penetrate into China from Central Asia.”
These Central Asian governments have serious opposition. However, the concern is that opposition parties in some of these countries could turn to the IMU, TIP and Jund al-Khilafah.
Given their power, they easily could take over the opposition, much as al-Qaida and its main affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Sunni Salafists have done with the Syrian opposition.
Their infiltration into the opposition has caused a pause in U.S. backing of the opposition in providing funding and military logistical backing.
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