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