When authorities in Kyrgyzstan announce that a terrorism suspect has been detained, the public is rarely given a name or convincing background story. So it came as a surprise that the National Security Committee identified a Turkish citizen detained on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization bent on overthrowing the Turkish Republic. The case --complicated by the suspect’s request, a year ago, for asylum in Kyrgyzstan -- gives Bishkek a chance to look tough on terror.
Security forces arrested Ali Osman Zor at the request of the Turkish Embassy on May 2, local media reported on May 11. Since April 2010, he had reportedly been working in Kyrgyzstan for the Istanbul-based Baran Magazine, a publication critical of the Turkish government. Kyrgyz officials allege Zor has ties to al-Qaeda. Ankara accuses him of being a member of the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front (İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncılar Cephesi, or, IBDA-C), which it classifies as a terrorist organization. IBDA-C is suspected of a number of terrorist attacks in Turkey over the past 20 years.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.