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Russia Sees IS as Reason to Boost Control in Central Asia

Protestors carry anti-migrant, anti-Islamic posters – one with the slogan "We don't need no Moscowbad" – at a Russian nationalist rally in Moscow on Nov. 4. Russian officials and pundits are sounding the alarm that the perceived growing presence of Islamic extremists in Central Asia is a threat to national security. (Photo: David Trilling)

How many Central Asians are fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and do they want to return to wage jihad upon their return home? No one knows for sure, but in recent months Russian officials and pundits have sounded the alarm. Their comments – often adhering to a narrative about weak states needing Russian protection – fit neatly with the Kremlin’s efforts to maintain, or even expand, its military presence in the region.
 
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, for example, warned in September that IS could one day target Russia and Central Asia. “We understand that these people [Central Asian fighters in Iraq and Syria], having gained military experience and […] upon returning home can pose a serious threat to the national security of their own countries,” Patrushev said in his opening speech at a meeting of security council secretaries of CIS countries in Moscow on September 26.

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Edward Lemon, a former EurasiaNet contributor, is now pursuing a political science PhD in the UK.

Russia Sees IS as Reason to Boost Control in Central Asia

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