The second important document that needs to be addressed when understanding the state's response is a program to counter religious extremism and terrorism for 2018-2022. Judging by the title of the document, the most important issues of national security are religious extremism and terrorism for Kazakhstan. The Anti-Terrorism Act also provides key definitions. Thus, terrorism in Kazakhstan is considered as the "ideology of violence and the practice of influencing decision-making by state bodies, local self-government bodies or international organizations by committing or threatening to commit violent and (or) other criminal acts related to intimidation of the population and aimed at causing harm to the person, society and the state ".
In accordance with the Action Plan for its implementation, state bodies have set many important tasks and criteria for their implementation. At the same time, it should be noted that most measures (though, as well as resources) are more associated with improving the potential and qualifications of specialized law enforcement agencies – the NSC, the Ministry of Internal Affairs – both on a republican and local scale.
And this is no coincidence, since the attacks were more directed against representatives of law enforcement agencies, i.e. 85% of the victims of these acts of terrorism, compared with 15% of the civilian population.
Mainly, measures to prevent and combat religious extremism and terrorism are aimed at:
- the prevention of religious extremism and terrorism, the formation of immunity to radical ideology within society and zero tolerance for radical manifestations.
- reducing the influence of external factors on the radicalization of the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
- increasing the efficiency of revealing and suppressing the facts of religious extremism and terrorism, including by improving the system for ensuring the activity of special state and law enforcement bodies.
- improving the system for responding to acts of religious extremism and terrorism, as well as minimizing and (or) eliminating their consequences.
Alongside with traditional measures to increase the potential of specialized law enforcement agencies, a lot of work is being done both offline
and online. For example, "in order to protect Internet users and social networks from the influence of the propaganda of terrorism, information space is being monitored." According to the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in 2018, more than 620 thousand materials were blocked on the Internet and social networks (for comparison, in 2015 – 150 thousand, in 2016 – 700 thousand) with the propaganda of terrorism and extremism. Earlier in 2011, 400 websites were blocked in Kazakhstan for propagating the ideas of radicalism and terrorism (in 2012 – 500, in 2013 – 600).
At the same time, relevant departments have been criticized more than once for excessive closure, blocking and control, as well as lack of creativity in the development of counterpropaganda and counter-narratives. As a result, the press service of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan prepared a release on the Zhusan
special operation and the documentary "Flowers in chains" (Цветы в оковах
), which tells about women serving sentences for crimes related to religious extremism and terrorism.
In the final count, it is important to understand how to measure the effectiveness of the implementation of the indicated measures and what criteria to operate on, since this is an ideology. Not so long ago, international experts involved in countering violent extremism and terrorism came to the conclusion that de-radicalization is not an effective measure, since it does not provide an opportunity to talk about efficiency and is a resource-intensive and time-consuming process. In this regard, the creation of immunity to radical ideology in Kazakhstani society is becoming particularly relevant, which is extremely difficult to measure and calculate.
The last question, which is practically not presented in the information and communication strategy of Kazakhstan in the fight against religious extremism and terrorism, is related to awareness and dialogue with citizens. Much remains to be done in this direction, starting with transparent statistics on court cases, foreign terrorist fighters, and convicted persons in order to conduct qualitative research that will help the process of political decision-making. And the main point is to explain the citizens what extremism and terrorism are, what is allowed or prohibited by law, to communicate with the majority of citizens along with adherents of destructive religious movements and not to securitize the problems. Instead of a conclusion
Ultimately, to understand the real extent of the threat of terrorism and extremism in the Republic of Kazakhstan, it is important to pay attention to three points. The first is the official discourse generated by the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan that terrorism and religious extremism pose a threat to Kazakhstan's national security, whereas 30 terrorist attacks have been prevented and foiled since 2014 (2014 – 3, 2015 – 4, 2016 – 12, 2017 – 11) .
According to other data for the same period, experts mention 78 cases.
According to the State program on combating religious extremism and terrorism, the problem of radicalization of citizens, leading to violent acts of an extremist nature and terrorism, remains a real threat to the national security of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The second is the global terrorism index and the global peace index 2018-2019, in which Kazakhstan occupies the 75th and 64th places respectively (letting Tajikistan go ahead in the first). At the same time, it has been noted that for several consecutive years there has been a tendency in reducing total number of terrorist attacks and the number of victims around the world.
And thirdly, the participation of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the activities of terrorist organizations abroad and their subsequent return. According to the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
from 2013 to 2016 – the period of active recruiting and the activity of the ISIS – 546 Kazakhstan recruits were not allowed to depart to the zones of terrorist activity (2013 – 168, 2014 – 136, 2015 – 151, 2016 – 91). In addition, in 2019, about 600 citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan were returned as part of the Zhusan
special operation, including more than 400 children.
Collectively and individually, these components may indicate what the level of threat represents religious extremism and terrorism in the Republic of Kazakhstan.