Terrorism and extremism in Kazakhstan: the importance of updating counter-terrorism policies in the country

Terrorism is one of the "plague" of the 21st century. It is a global problem: a large number of states around the world suffered from terrorist attacks. For example the Central Asia, where the spread of extremism is connected to the terrorism.

The main purpose of the article is to study this problem and to analyze its connection with extremism, particularly in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Central Asia is a problematic region since affected by both internal and external terrorism, for example the presence of terrorist groups affiliated to the Islamic State (IS). This paper aims to outline the efforts of the Kazakh State against the threats of terrorism and extremism also in cooperation with other actors, such as the SCO.

The paper analyze the anti-terrorism policies of Kazakhstan for solving the above mentioned issues.


After the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1991), Central Asia began a problematic period. Terrorism started to spread in this period of time, given the favorable situation. Among the states involved there was also the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this country terrorism, being multicultural, is strongly linked to extremism.

Kazakhstan from 1991 to 2011 was not particularly active in the fight against terrorism as the state considered terrorism an irrelevant factor for the republic. Over the last 10 years, terrorism was strongly associated with religious extremism, leading to the development of seven destructive cults (eg Isis). It was only after 2011 that the first terrorist attack occurred within the country that the state strengthened the law against this threat.

The republic fought terrorism and religious extremism by stepping up the legislation from time to time. It started from internal laws (eg definition of terrorism) until it came to external associations such as the Sco.


The method used to analyze the terrorist situation in Kazakhstan is to explore the phenomenon by collecting and studying relevant documents, giving them a special cut to highlight some points. Analysis of the development of internal state laws and external collaborations to defeat the development of terrorist activities, connected to the estremism, within Kazakhstan.


Terrorism is the one of the most terrible threats to global security and stability. In despite of terrorism is a global problem there is no one unique definition of terrorism in the world and so this topic has been studied.

Today there are many international documents where we can find different explanations of terrorism and instruments how to combat it. To show this concept it is essential to discern one of the important organisation, that fight against terrorism - The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), where Kazakhstan is one of the member of this organization. SCO is a Eurasian political and economic organisation which was founded in 2001, in Shangai by the leaders of China, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The SCO defines what exactly is terrorism with the Shanghai Convention on "Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism" (15.6.2001) in Article 1, point 1:

  1. Any act recognized as an offence in one of the treaties listed in the Annex to this Convention and as defined in this Treaty;
  2. Other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict or to cause major damage to any material facility, as well as to organize, plan, aid and abet such act, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, violate public security or to compel public authorities or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act, and prosecuted in accordance with the national laws of the Parties.

To underline the importance of this issue in the country is possible referrer to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On combating terrorism" of the 13 July 1999 where we can find the following explanation of terrorism according to the item 5 of article 1 in the chapter 1 - "Terrorisms ideology of influence of resolutions which are made by state organs or International organizations by the threat of doing violent crimes to fear people".

Those laws dating back to 1999 and 2001 are dated because over the years the context has shift. These changes must be considered.


In Kazakhstan during the period between 1991 (Fall of the Soviet Union) and 2011 (first terrorist attacks), there has been an evolution of several destructive sects and cults often linked to religious extremism.

Terrorism in the state has evolved through several phases:

  1. Foreign terrorists (the end of the 1990s - the beginning of the 2000s): persons pursued by own states for participation in illegal paramilitary groups;
  2. Recruitin (the beginning-the middle of the 2000s years): in this period is noted the increase of cases of involvement and participation of citizens of Kazakhstan in terrorist activity, both in the territory of the adjacent countries, and in foreign countries;
  3. Local or own terrorists (2005-2011 years): The number of the Kazakhstan citizens who instituted criminal proceedings for committing crimes, connected with extremism and terrorist activity already within our country grows. The main events of 2011 which are in particular interest took place in Atyrau, Zhambyl and Aktobe (big regions of Kazakhstan) was the turning point for the State. This permit to discuss the argument that there is an international terrorism in the country. The Aktobe Bombing was a terrorist attack in the city of Kazakhstan on May 17, 2011. The attacker entered the headquarters of the Kazakhstani security services in the region and set off a suicide bomb, killing himself and injuring two others. Kazakhstani officials conceded that the attack was linked to Islamic extremists. Another terrorist attack was in Taraz on 12 of november 2011. An Islamic militant follower of jihadism has killed four members of the security forces and two civilians. Two explosions hit the city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan on October 31, 2011. The first bomb, hidden in a basket near the local government headquarters, exploded just before 9:00 local time. Shortly thereafter, another explosion took place outside the office of public prosecutors. Kazakhstan - considered the most stable country in the region - saw a wave of violence.

As you can see religious extremism is closely connected with terrorism in Kazakh country. There was therefore a lack of focus on the approach of terrorism to religious extremism as it was considered an irrelevant topic. This has led to the ever-increasing and deepening strengthening of the link between terrorism and religion. This link came to light from 2011 onwards.

In this last phase there was an increase of attacks by radical religious extremists. It was a proliferation of Islamic extremist groups and theirs terroristics activities to undermine the foundations of society. For example On June 5, 2016, Aktobe returned to live the fear it had experienced five years earlier when a suicide terrorist exploded in the city, alarming for the first time the country that had not yet been attacked. In this day the city of Aktobe, was the scene of a complex terrorist attack. A militia group of militiamen has first attacked two arms stores, near which he has engaged in gunfire with the police, to break into the local military base. The total number of victims was 17. Or an other case is on 18 July 2016, Almaty was found to be the scene of a new attack perpetrated by Ruslan Kulikbayev, a twenty-six-year- old Kazakh. In the target of the attacker, a police barracks where four officers were killed, a retired officer, a guard at the barracks and a civilian. More 3 officers died in the following days at the hospital due to the serious injuries reported. On November 2, the Almaty tribunal condemned Kulikbayev to death. In Kazakhstan, the death penalty was abolished in 2007, but the Constitution provides for this to be applicable in the event of terrorism. As a result Kulikbayev was killed.


The reaction of the authorities respect the problem of terrorism are differents in the years:

  1. The preventions of experts from 1990 to 2011 about possible activization of extremist and terrorist groups are nonexistent because they think that terrorism are an external and improbable threat in the State. The main action taken by the state and worthy of note is the constitution of the Executive committee of Regional antiterrorist structure (RATS) in 2004. The mains aims of RATS are compiling and continually updating a database of terrorist, separatist, and extremist actors across the region, and harmonize legislation counterterrorism among all its member states. Over the last decade, the RATS has come to be seen as a valuable and important tool in the fight against transnational terrorism by its members' leaderships. An other Law is "About modification and additions in some acts of Republic of Kazakhstan concerning counteraction to terrorism" (April 8, 2010) that correct 11 laws according to the internal norms principles and model of the state system are established of counteraction to terrorism.
  2. At the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 authorities fight against terrorism strengthening the laws related to this issue. In the autumn of 2011 Nazarbaev (President of Kazakhstan) launched a new set of rules aimed at tightening the requirements for the establishment of religious associations and hindering the presence and activities of "seven" or religious confessions considered "non-traditional" (and therefore not welcome to the government). Without registration any type of activity is considered illegal. The effects of the entry into force of the new legislation have led to a drastic reduction in the number of religious representations. After this fact are increased the attacks of Islamic matrix of the 2011.
  3. In 2013 as witnessed in the report, released from United States Religious Freedom Commission, Kazakhstan has a dual system in which some confessions or religious groups are viewed with disapproval by authorities over others. To suffer the consequences of this choice are not only the seven and minority Christian groups but also Islamic groups "not aligned" with the governmental directives, which intend to undertake their religious activity in a completely independent way. Then the Kazakhstan is trying to find a suitable solution to overcome the threat posed by extremism and terrorism, succeeding in preserving the multicultural heritage that constitutes its historical legacy. The state's response can not and must not be solved solely in a repressive attitude. This would plunge the country into a dangerous condition for internal stability. The task of the government is to implement a series of measures to concretize the idea of interreligious and inter-ethnic harmony. On October 2, 2013, President Nazarbayev approved a state program on fighting religious extremism and terrorism for the period of 2013-17. Central and local government bodies will implement the program while th head of the presidential administration control its progress.


Despite the precautions taken by the state, the spread of sects and terrorist cults linked to religious extremism. Consequently, it is noticed that terrorism and extremism are interdependent in the Republic of Kazakhstan: they act together.

They have as common points:

  1. Extreme heterogeneity and contradictoriness with respect to ideology and doctrine;
  2. Totalitarian heritage;
  3. Development of destructive sets and cults led to criticism of traditional religions for deviating from original beliefs and practice. Their aim are to create paradise on earth, strive for universal happiness, and satisfy people's momentary desires. These sects declare that paradise can be created on Earth, a paradise where everyone will be happy.

In the ideological respect extremism and terrorism claim to form world value systems and introduce new spiritual and moral references at the national level to replace the traditional views.

In Kazakhstan in particular there is a growing activity of the new generation of destructive sects and cults. This trend is especially dangerous since the Kazakh youth for whom religion is increasingly becoming a value system that regulates social behavior, the psychology of communication, and a philosophical attitude toward life, has a very vague idea about the difference between traditional religion and pseudoreligious views and outlooks. The current religious situation in the country can be described as potentially dangerous: terrorists have effectively established a mechanism for expanding their social base. An example of this problemi s the ISIS.

The Kazakhstani government is concerned about the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or ISIS. ISIS ideology (the virus), like any disease, mainly strikes the 'weak' governments organisms. Note that it is the mainly Muslim countries or areas with large Muslim group that are susceptible to this disease. The goal of the Organization is to create a worldwide caliphate that include the Central Asia, also the Republic of Kazakhstan. The number of Kazakhs fighting between jihadist files varies between 200 and 400 fighters. Kazakhstani courts designated ISIL as a terrorist organization on October 15, 2015.


The main purpose of this paper is to study the situation of terrorism and to analyze its connection with extremism particular in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, are actively cooperating with each other in order to improve the existing security standards against terrorism and extremism.

The fight against the international terrorism is the priorities of Kazakhstan in ensuring national security of the country. The state condemns this issue in all its forms and manifestations, supporting collective efforts of the world community on combating with it. The state to achieve this goal has improved both its domestic laws and collaborations with other external organizations.

From the analysis of the situation of the Republic it emerged that terrorism and extremism are interdependent in the State. Then it is obvious that Kazakhstan has become fertile ground for terroristic organizations. You can show this link by considering the techniques used by terrorists to get new enlistments. In order to attain their goals terrorists are rendering material assistance to new adepts, teaching them English, finding them jobs, helping their relatives and close family members to find work, or providing shelter for the homeless or acquaintances that have found themselves in a temporarily difficult situation. This is done in order to show the organization's good intentions toward the local population by their own example.

It is therefore noted the difficult situation in Kazakhstan where there is rapid spread of radical religious and terrorist groups. One example of this organization is the Isis. Generally ISIS actively recruits children to engage in combat, including suicide missions. There are several reasons why young people are being targeted by terrorists:

  1. They are in a phase of change and have been turbulent that terrorists know to control the youth people. By doing so, the young people feel helped and remain within the organization;
  2. The kids reside in poor families then ISIS is the salvation from this condition;
  3. Muslim communities or sub-cultures are relatively insulated from the wider polity and have been beset by a range of political, historical and socioeconomic setbacks.

This fact is the source of much apprehension and it connects at the goal of the article: fight and defeat terrorism and extremism. The state has reacted to this phenomenon by creating the Government of Kazakhstan's countering violent extremism (CVE) with the aim of preventing radicalization among people.

One clear pattern that emerged was the reaction of the authorities at this problem. Despite all the precautions that the state took the country is not be able to resist at the issue.


Kazakhstan's counter-terrorism strategy could serve as a model for Central Asia as a whole, demonstrating the importance of updating policies in the face of new threats and challenges. The governments of the state have been determined to eliminate the threat of terrorism in the region.

In all Central Asian states, the threat of terrorism became associated with activities of radical Islamic groups in the region. The situation of the Kazakh's state is one proof of this fact. One of the major and most important acts done by the state of Kazakhstan and show the main objective of the article, to fight against terrorism, is to ban the most dangerous websites of organizations. Below is a list of what sites and when they were blocked.

  1. By decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan from 15 of October, 2004

- Al-Qaeda;

- Islamic Movement of East Turkestan;

- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan;

- Kurdish National Congress.

  1. By decision of the Supreme Court of the Repuplic of Kazakhstan from 15 of March, 2005

- Asbat al-Ansar;

- Muslim Brotherhood;

- Taliban's movement;

- Boz Qurd;

- Jamaat of the Mujahideen of Central Asia;

- Lashkar-e Taiba;

- Social reforms society.

  1. By decision of the Court of Astana city from 28 of March, 2005

- Organization "Hizb ut-Tahrir".

  1. By decision of the Court of Astana city from 17 of November, 2006

- Aum Shinrikyo;

- East Turkestan Liberation Organization.

  1. By decision of the Court of Astana city from 5 of March, 2008

- Islamic Party of Turkestan.

  1. By decision of the Court of Atyrau city from 25 of November, 2011

- Jund al-Khalifah.

  1. By decision of the Specialized Interdistrict Economic Court of the East-Kazakhstan region from 7 of June, 2012

- RPA (Republican private association) "Senim. Bilim. Omir".

  1. By decision of Saryarka district court of Astana city from 26 February, 2013

- Tablighi Jamaat.

  1. By decision of Saryarka district court of Astana city from 18 August, 2014

- At Takfir wal-Hijra.

  1. By decision of Esil district court of Astana city from 15 of October, 2015

- Islamic State;

- Al-Nusra Front.

The study illuminated some areas for future research. First, it demonstrated how international environment can influence the policies of newly independent states. It illustrated how the context of the "war on terrorism" can provide an opportunity for undemocratic regimes to curb this issue. Further analysis is needed to explore the conditions under which internal rules and the international context are useful for combating terrorism and its connection with extremism.

Second is possible make a number of observations about the state's security policy. The Republic of Kazakhstan to prevent the spread and radicalization of extremism and terrorism:

  1. Avoid the radicalization of the country's youth focuses on using the law;
  2. Improve religious education offering warnings about the dangers of radical ideologies.
  3. Perform A public information campaign.

These actions taken by the state must be considered only as the basis of the prevention of terrorism and not a point of arrival. They need a future implementation in order to address the dangers that this threat represents through its continuous development.



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Year: 2018
City: Karaganda
Category: Economy