The number of Central Asia foreign fighters climbed in 2013, and those who return may boost the destabilization of regimes after their Syrian experience1. In March 2013, Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar, dominated by Chechens and North Caucasians, have already announced the presence of Central Asia fighters into its ranks. Two months later, a Tajik newspaper confirms that the citizens of this country have gone through training camps in Syria. In June, this is a website that confirms that Uzbek Tajiks gained Syria and recruiters also would draw on seasonal workers who leave Russia. A year earlier, in 2012, a report in The Guardian mentioned a Turkish smuggler working with jhadists, who claimed to see many Uzbeks cross the northern border of Syria.
The same month of June 2013, Kazakhstan arrests 8 its citizens seeking to raise funds to finance a trip to Syria. In July, a Kazakh nicknamed Abu Muadh al-Muhajir called his countrymen from Damascus, via video, to engage in jihad. In October, a video shows more than 50 jihadists and their families in Syria, alongside ISIS2. A Kazakh also recognizes his little son in a video of ISIS in October 2013 ; he would be radicalized after leaving to the Middle East with his wives and children to find work3. The Kyrgyzstan for its part recognizes that twenty people are probably gone to fight in Syria, and also mentions hold others arrested at airports. From 2011, citizens of Uzbek origin in the south go to wage jihad against Bashar al-Assad. 6 young men are recruited by Russian and Salafists, they are repatriated to Moscow and then ship towards Turkey4. The Uzbekistan Islamic Movement would also have sent fighters to Syria. One of its members says even prefer to fight Shiites and Syrian Alawites that Sunni Pakistani soldiers alongside the Taliban of South-Waziristan5. Recruited by al-Nosra, he lost a leg because of an artillery shell in July 2013. There are also Chinese citizens. At least three other fighters joined al-Nosra ; Salafist recruiting network Uzbek attract volunteers from the province of Hatay, Turkey. In March 2013, a Han converted to Islam, Yusuf al-Sini (Bo Wang), appears in a video of Jaysh al- Muhajirin wal-Ansar. Another video from al-Nosra seems to stage a Uighur, called the "Chinese jihadist". Islamic Party of Turkistan, based in Pakistan and run by Uighurs, have sent fighters to Syria. Moreover, it has long been known that many thousands of Central Asian fighters are involved in Afghanistan, including members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, on the northern borders of the country, in the provinces of Kunduz and Takhar.
|Extrait d'une vidéo de l'Union du Djihad Islamique.-Source : http://gdb.rferl.org/6BDBE608-12EC-4663-B6B7-7564D7AA57EE_mw1024_n_s.jpg|
It seems that the volunteers of Central Asia, due to difficulties in adapting to the Syrian context, have aroused deep resentment among the people of the north, where they are involved in the majority. That is why the Syrian fighters sometimes encouraged them to return home to pursue jiha . China in July 2013 reported the arrest of a Uighur student who studied in Istanbul and then fought in Aleppo and have prepared attacks in Xinjiang. 15 people behind an attack against a police station and its surroundings in Turpang, in June were denied departure for Syria and would have led a local operation. On 12 September, at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan announced that the dismantled a cell of the Islamic Jihad Union (a derivative of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, especially active in Afghanistan and Pakistan organization) that would target the summit. This cell, in Osh in the Fergana Valley, was composed of veterans of the war in Syria. It also included an attack on the anniversary of the country's independence on August 31 and would have had, at least, a Kazakh6.
|Des combattants d'Asie Centrale à Alep, en 2013.-Source : http://www.transatlanticacademy.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/large/East%20Asian%20Fighters%20in%20Aleppo,%20Syria.jpg|
On 19 February 2014, a new cell was dismantled in Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan. These activists financed their activities with funds from Syria and committing robberies. They hoped to recruit 150 people. Ten days earlier, Kirgizh authorities had confirmed that five people had died in Syria and 50 others fought with ISIS. There are also women and children who are going to this land of jihad. Nargiza Kadyraliyeva abandons her husband and leaves with her three children in early 2013. There are multiple motivations for Kyrgyzs : escape unemployment and poverty by finding a "refuge" in Syria, the taste for adventure, support a cause deemed righteous, and conversion to jihad by radical Islamists. The Kyrgyzstan, however, unlike other neighboring countries in Central Asia, has not known jihadism on its soil, probably because of reforms initiated since 2005 and because Muslims are free to practice their religion, in a rather moderate trend. Yet the country cannot escape the regional geopolitical implications. The U.S. war in Afghanistan has forced the Central Asian militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to seek refuge in Pakistan's tribal areas. But these Kyrgyzes activists can not return to their countries to export jihad. Syria is more favorable because ISIS control an entire sector of the country, and part of Iraq. The Kyrgyzes can train, raise funds and recruit them back, especially since it is much easier for them to return to Kyrgyzstan. The first signs of activity of Syrian veterans appear in the Ferghana Valley in the second half of 2013. Hostility between Kirgizes and Uzbeks in the country sometimes leads them to join radical movements such as Hizb ut- ahrir, which serves of springboard of recruitment for jihad in Syria. These movements also provide social assistance to families in difficult social situations -like those whose husband is a seasonal worker in Russia- and target marginalized groups or poor rural communities7.
1Jacob Zenn, « Increasing Numbers of Central Asian Jihadists in Syria », The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 2 octobre 2013.
2Jacob Zenn, « Afghan and Syrian Links to Central Asian Jihadism », Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 193, The Jamestown Foundation, 29 octobre 2013.
6Jacob Zenn, « Afghan and Syrian Links to Central Asian Jihadism », Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 193, The Jamestown Foundation, 29 octobre 2013.
7Jacob Zenn, « Kyrgyzstan Increasingly Vulnerable to Militant Islamism », CACI Analyst, 5 mars 2014.