On Tuesday, February 18, Kazakh authorities announced that two suspected terrorists had been arrested and explosives and weapons seized in Almaty. This follows unconfirmed reports of several terror-related arrests on Monday, January 27, near Karaganda.
According to the Kazakh National Security Committee, the country's security services have foiled three terrorist plots since the start of 2020, thought to be largely planned by international terrorist groups and radicalized local followers.
Kazakhstan has seen a rise in Islamist terrorism over the past decade. Kazakhstan witnessed its first religiously motivated terror attack in 2011 when a suicide bomber attacked the Aktobe National Security Committee Branch, and several attacks have taken place since targeting public spaces like shopping malls and children's camps, and Kazakh and Russian security forces. In 2019 Kazak security forces announced that they had foiled plots by seven radical groups.
A rise in the popularity of conservative Islam, especially in the impoverished southern and oil-rich western regions, coupled with the suspected infiltration of international terror networks such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), has substantially increased the risk of terror attacks in the country. Kazakhstan has also repatriated several hundred Kazakh IS militants and their families since 2018, sparking some concerns that they may foment further domestic radicalization.
Kazakh authorities rate the terror threat level to the country as serious.
Individuals in Kazakhstan are advised to remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.