"Sleeping cells"

We currently witness an alarming trend when the organized terrorist groups with their hierarchy are replaced by amateur "sleeping" radical cells consisting of two or more people.

They are difficult to control, as they are often formed outside the framework of an organization, as it was before. On the other hand, access to social networks and web resources creates their extensive network.

The virus of terrorism is mutating. And there is no vaccineInfected with one idea, they often do not cross off-line with like-minded people in other countries. Except perhaps attempts of citizens of over 70 countries join ISIS (Daesh).

But many experts admit that even the weakening of the positions of ISIS in Syria and Iraq did not reduce the threat of terrorist attacks by its numerous supporters in different regions of the world. And many of them quite often act under the roof of the already popularized "brand" of ISIS. It is some kind of analog of an informal "franchise" if explaining it in a business language.

Indeed, why create an organization that nobody knows, if you can position yourself as an affiliate of ISIS, which is already known to the whole world?

At one time, a similar situation was with Al-Qaeda, whose autonomous missions appeared in different parts of the world without the participation of the organization itself. Some anti-terror specialists believe that modern terrorism is now doing what Hollywood did in the 1940s, when the film "Propaganda War" was shot.


Cars and knives as assault tools

Many special services were not ready for such professional processing of people by radical groups through social networks. As well as to the fact that "sleeping" cells will start to arrange non-standard acts of terrorism, whether using cars without explosives as rams or attacking passers-by with a knife.

By the way, Israel was the first to experience these forms of assault, which showed the vulnerability of even the most prepared state from the antiterrorist point of view.

Last week, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, presenting a new plan of protection from the terrorist threat, underlined the measures to prevent automobile attacks. They are elementary: the installation of anti-park poles in places of mass congestion of people, on the main streets of cities, near shopping centers, close to sports facilities, etc.

But it is much more difficult to control the fans to attack people with cold weapons.

In the 1960s and 1980s, terrorists frequented hijacking planes, and then in all countries the requirements for aviation security increased. In the 1970s, the first "suicide belts" appeared, which were initially utilized by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.

Later, this terrorist act became especially popular among terrorists from Palestine to Afghanistan. And till now there is no reliable means of protection from it. Basically, it was used by radical organizations that have experienced explosion technicians in their ranks. Mass use of the "shahid belt" was hampered by the fact that its assembly still requires a certain qualification - to activate not in your apartment but in the place of congestion. By the way, in Kazakhstan there have already been precedents of explosions at home of homemade bombs in the hands of inexperienced terrorists.

In any case, the situation is very dangerous when the use of cars and knives as an attack weapon now causes the "imitation effect" of "sleeping" cells around the world. After all, this does not even need to try to assemble a bomb, following the instructions found on the Internet. Everything is much simpler. Enough of its own or a stolen car or a kitchen knife.

Therefore, it is not surprising that immediately after the terrorist attack in Spain, when the van drove into the crowd, a masked man with a knife attacked passers-by in Surgut, Russia. And then two people were killed and seven were injured in a similar assault in Turku, Finland.

According to a Eurobarometer survey, 44 percent of Europeans consider terrorism to be the main challenge for the European Union.


Anti-terror 2017-2020

Earlier this year, the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan developed a new program to counter religious extremism and terrorism for 2017-2020.

According to the Kazakh special service, from the year of 2013, 27 violent extremist acts of terrorist nature were prevented and thwarted at an early stage of preparation. At the same time, according to the head of the National Security Committee Karim Masimov, about 100 terrorist acts have been prevented over the past 10 years.

In July, the Minister for Religious Affairs and Civil Society of the Kazakhstan, Nurlan Yermekbayev, stated that there are more than 500 citizens of Kazakhstan in the militant camps abroad, some of whom may try to return, which, in his opinion, poses a threat.

As for anti-terrorism measures, the emphasis is, as always, more on power tools. For example, tightening legislation, including the introduction of the rule on the deprivation of citizenship for terrorist activities abroad. Some theses about the elimination of the social base for spreading the extremist ideology and about carrying out more effective counter-propaganda are also heard.

But the digital approach to the evaluation of prevention of extremism and terrorism is embarrassing. For example, it was stated that in 2016 targeted prevention covered 32.1 percent of followers of non-traditional religious movements. As a result of this, loyal attitude to Kazakhstan's values was allegedly developed among 70 leaders and activists of the Salafi communities.

It's just not clear how long this "loyal attitude" will last for them, how sincerely it is and what specific values have been vaccinated, given that in the society itself there are still disputes about their scale?

Even more interesting is the new program to counter religious extremism and terrorism, where the achievement of the goal will be measured by such target indicators as the reduction by the end of 2020 "by 20 percent of the number of people who share extremist ideas aimed at inciting religious hatred or discord."

Also in three years they want to increase by 95 percent "the effectiveness of the activities of special and law enforcement agencies in preventing extremist manifestations of violent nature and acts of terrorism on the territory of Kazakhstan."

And again the question arises: who will measure this percentage? Most likely, the power structures themselves.


Thoughts on SAMK (Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan)

This antiterrorist prevention has many vulnerable areas.

Before you reduce by 20 percent the number of those who belong to extremist ideas, you need to have an accurate idea of how many people already share them. But, as shown by the "sleeping" cells, this can be learned only after their unexpected awakening.

Another problem is the spread of extremist ideas in Kazakhstan's prisons. It is true that the antiterror program specifies the organization of preventive work with convicted persons in prisons. But recently, experts from the regional office of the Penal Reform International concluded that the work conducted among prisoners in Kazakhstan was ineffective.

Moreover, in their opinion, the employees of Kazakh prisons themselves are at risk of becoming extremists, which presupposes neutralization of this problem as well. Therefore, the penitentiary system and law-enforcement bodies should not turn a blind eye to this trend, but recognize it as a threat.

Another weak link in antiterrorist prevention is the ineffective activity of the RAMK, especially at the grassroots level, where there is a direct contact of rural imams with the population.

Last week, Nurlan Yermekbayev called the salaries of imams: it depends on the filling of boxes for donations and ranges from 20 to 80 thousand tenge.

The minister admitted: “It is clear that with such a salary, which is also unstable, imams cannot always fully resolve pressing issues affecting public security. It is difficult to attract qualified imams to rural mosques ... Imams also have a secondary education for the most part, which prevents them from expanding their audience and opposing well-prepared adherents of destructive religious movements.”

The country is really catastrophically short of young, charismatic, authoritative and media representatives of the clergy who would be popular among young people in social networks and mosques.

Another question is whether there is a desire within the SAMK itself with its rigid hierarchy to support such young people?

In general, relations between the state and the SAMK have always had a rather strange configuration. Formally, religion is separated from the state. But in fact, the authorities have always considered the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan as part of the state apparatus, which must be controlled, but not necessarily reformed. This is the state of semi-pregnancy.

This was most clearly demonstrated during the April meeting of the president with the leaders of the SAMK, which resembled a meeting of the government. In the same place, the task was set to upgrade the professional level of all 3,800 imams included in the SAMK. This is an analog of the creation of a religious "meritocracy."

That's only with so many imams, as it turned out, very few people who want to work in rural mosques, including those already mentioned for material reasons. And this is despite the fact that it is rural imams who are at the forefront in the struggle against radicalism.

And it would be naive to expect that the emergence of professional, highly educated imams will solve all problems of the spread of radicalism. This is a complex work.

And it should be based initially on effective state reform to reduce the social base that is favorable for the emergence of extremist sentiments.

Ultimately, it is the existence that often determines consciousness.