On February 11, 2022, the International Conference “Global and Regional Trends of Terrorism and Violent extremism” was held in Nur-Sultan. The event was organized by the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kazakhstan Council on International Relations.
Opening the work of the international conference, Secretary of State of the Republic of Kazakhstan Yerlan Karin elaborated on the practical aspects of countering terrorism and the role of the Republic of Kazakhstan in combating this threat. Expounding on the January events in the country, it was noted that Kazakhstan faced an extraordinary, “hybrid” case of terrorism, which differed in a combination of various aspects: from the merging of crime and to the information attacks. In this regard, taking into account modern trends, the topic of studying the phenomenon of terrorism and violent extremism is becoming more and more relevant for the foreign and Kazakh expert community.
Speaking as a moderator of the conference, Deputy Director of the KazISS Sanat Kushkumbayev noted that today the issues of countering terrorism and violent extremism are the most important for the whole world. The events that are taking place today in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Central Asia, as well as, in particular, the tragic January days of this year in Kazakhstan actualize this agenda. It is noted, there are discussions among experts regarding new definitions of this global phenomenon thus far. Terrorism and violent extremism are rapidly transforming today. In this regard, an exchange of views and discussions of this format are necessary and useful.
The International Conference was held within the framework of two panel sessions – “Terrorism and violent extremism: trends, assessments and forecasts” and “International and Kazakh experience in countering terrorism and violent extremism”. It was attended by leading foreign and kazakhstani experts in the field of terrorism and violent extremism research, as well as experts of the KAZISS under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The speakers of the first session were: Jacob Zenn, Adjunct Professor of African Armed Movements and Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics at Georgetown University Security Program (USA), Nurlan Nagmanov, Expert of the Anti-Terrorism Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ricardo Valle, Director of the Terrorism Department of the think Tank «Analytics for Intelligence and Security» (Italy), Askar Sabdin, Director of the Center for Applied Research of Religions “Pikir”.
According to Jacob Zenn, in recent times there is a decrease in the spread of the terrorist threat around the world. This is primarily due to the defeat of ISIS and the loss of a number of occupied territories in the Middle East. Expert Nurlan Nagmanov elaborated on the current situation introducing the statistical data on the number of terrorist acts committed in 2021 as an example, and also noted that the media and social networks are the main drivers of the promotion of destructive ideology. Terrorist analyst Ricardo Valle, in his turn, elaborated on the role of propaganda in the ISIS camp and the tools by which their members expand their transnational scope. Askar Sabdin presented a report on the status and directions of work on the deradicalization of religiously motivated extremists and terrorists where he outlined practical methods to counter radicalization.
In the second session, reports and presentations were delivered by: Aymenn Javad, an independent analyst and doctoral student at Swansea University (UK), Nihad Jariri, consultant, independent media producer (Jordan), Yulia Shapoval, Professor of the Department of Religious Studies at ENU named after L.N.Gumilyov
The influence of radical groups in the Syrian direction was described in detail by Aymenn Javad, also touching upon the topic of the Central Asian Countries’ citizens involved, including Kazakhstan, who took part on the side of the militants. Nihad Jariri shared her practical experience of communicating with representatives of extremist groups via social networks and demonstrated methods of working on the Internet, a system for tracking news feeds on terrorism and extremism, as well as the importance of researching modern information methods actively used by radical groups. Professor Yulia Shapoval, in turn, presented a study related to Kazakhstan’s experience in combating extremism, emphasizing the importance of the rehabilitation process in the context of the return of citizens who participated in various hot spots.