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Conferees vow to combat threat, report progress
By Baudyrzhan Mukanov
ASTANA – A two-day OSCE conference on strategies, policies and best practises for fighting terrorism began October 14, with Kazakhstani and foreign participants discussing what they have done – and what they plan to do.
Analysts and political scientists from OSCE participating and member states convened to explore strategies against terrorism. Resisting terrorism is a top priority of the Kazakhstani rotating chairmanship of the OSCE, said Kazakhstani Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Kanat Saudabayev.
Saudabayev said preparing for terror threats could and has helped prepare for other threats.
“This approach paid off in the development of the OSCE’s strategy toward the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, where a real risk existed of extremist and terrorism movements taking advantage of the continued disorder and chaos,” Saudabayev said in his opening remarks. “The OSCE continues to assist Kyrgyzstan in overcoming difficulties of the transition period.”
Kazakhstani Committee for National Security Chairman Nurtai Abykayev also noted the threat posed by terrorism.
“In general, Kazakhstan lacks the domestic prerequisites for terrorism,” he said. “However, the spread of radical and religious ideology, including on the internet, arouses special concern.”
Terrorists have Kazakhstan in their sights
The proximity of Kazakhstan to hot spots of tension and the instability in Central Asia and Afghanistan merit concern, he said, adding that it is no secret that foreign terrorist groups sponsored by al-Qaeda have their eye on Kazakhstan. Security officials have uncovered a number of extremist attempts to recruit citizens or shelter terrorists, he said.
Kazakhstani agents co-operating with colleagues in neighbouring countries have neutralised two al-Qaeda-influenced organisations in Kazakhstan, Abykayev said, identifying them as the Islamic Jihad Union and the Islamic Party of Turkestan.
Besides al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries, the organisations that Kazakhstan defines as terrorist are Aswat al-Ansar, Brother Muslims, Boz Gurd, the Taliban, Dzhamaat Modzhakhedov Tsentralnoi Azii, the Islamic Party of Eastern Turkestan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Kongra-Gel, Lashkar-i-Taiba, the Society for Social Reforms, the Organisation for the Liberation of Eastern Turkestan and Aum Shinrikyo, he said.
Abykayev said an annual OSCE conference on fighting terrorism could be useful.
Kazakhstan has, as chairman of the OSCE, taken measures to fight terrorism, said Serzhan Abdykarimov, special envoy and director of the Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry’s OSCE Department. Those measures include conferences on protecting energy infrastructure, increasing the security of travel documents and fighting drugs.
OSCE summit likely to mention terror topics, too
Conferees in Astana announced a joint initiative to protect tourism from terrorism. “Terrorists often choose to attack so-called ‘soft targets,’ ” said Ilya Rogachev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department on New Challenges and Threats. “The transportation infrastructure is a weak link in the security system. ... So defending tourist attractions from attack is relevant.”
“At the threshold of the (December 1-2) OSCE summit in Astana, it’s important to understand that the effectiveness of law enforcement and security measures against the terrorist threat is limited,” Rogachev said. “That’s why the international level offered by the OSCE is the most appropriate place for discussing this multi-faceted problem.”
Raphael Perl, OSCE Head of Anti-Terrorism Issues, agreed with Rogachev. “I think that this conference is a very important event and an excellent forum for exchanging opinions, because different countries have different approaches for solving terrorist threats,” he said.
Conferees concluded by expressing the hope that the December 1-2 OSCE summit in Astana will devote much of its agenda to terrorism.
Kapiza Nurtazina contributed to this report.