Senior Syrian jihadist recruiter arrested in Kyrgyzstan
A 2013 report said that extremists and jihadists now make up more than half of the rebel and opposition forces fighting against Assad in Syria. (AFP/File)
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The Kyrgyz government said Wednesday it arrested a senior terrorist ringleader suspected of recruiting militants to join the fight in Syria.
The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security said a suspected member of the Union of Islamic Jihad, whose name was withheld, was arrested for trying to recruit Kyrgyz nationals to join the rebellion in Syria, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Known by various names, the U.S. State Department listed the organization as a foreign terrorist group in 2005.
The 39-year-old ringleader allegedly received terrorist training in Afghanistan. He was also suspected of plotting attacks in the Jalal Abad region of Kyrgyzstan.
News magazine Foreign Policy in December reported there are more than 5,000 foreign fighters waging battle in Syria, breaking a record set in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The report said it's difficult to stem the tide of foreign fighters into Syria because many Western powers are backing rebel forces fighting against Syria President Bashar Assad.
RFE/RL reports Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev announced last month an underground cell was uncovered in Central Asia that was recruiting radicalized Kyrgyz men, and others from the region, to join the fight in Syria.