A Kazakhstani worker in South Korea has been arrested for financing a terrorist group in Central Asia, the Korean National Police said Thursday.
The suspect, in his 20s, entered the country three years ago and has been staying illegally without a visa, the police said.
While working at a factory in a southern rural area, the man was suspected of having transferred money worth about $1,000 to a terrorist group, a police spokesman said without elaborating the identity of the group. The suspect is known to have collected money from three other foreign workers, who are still at large.
“The suspect was arrested for violating the act on prohibition against the financing of terrorism as of Oct. 19,” the police said in a press release. “We’re still investigating if he had another accomplice.”
It is the first time that a person in South Korea has been arrested for breaching the act for countering the financing of terrorism since it was enforced in 2017.
In the past years, Central Asians have been involved in terror attacks in several cities including Istanbul, New York and St. Petersburg.
In July 2018, four western cyclists were killed in Tajikistan’s Danghara district by a group of five men who hit them with a car before stabbing them to death. The five men were alleged to be connected to Daesh, according to reports.
According to the November 26, 2018 edition of the Cipher Brief, a digital global security platform, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are two countries to have produced the largest number of foreign fighters per capita: 1,500 AND 1,300, respectively.
“Terrorism trends in Central Asia suggest that the region is shifting from primarily an exporter of foreign fighters to one where domestic and regional terrorist attacks may become increasingly more common,” the report says.
A UN Security Council report on Daesh and Al-Qaeda warned in February this year that hundreds of Uzbeks linked to terrorist networks could have entered South Korea. The report said members of the Katibat Imam Al-Bukhari and Katibat Al-Tawhid wal Jihad groups had requested entry to South Korea via Turkey, as the militants chose South Korea, which has a large Uzbek community.
South Korea is also becoming increasingly vulnerable to “lone wolf” attacks associated with international terror groups.
In July, a 23-year-old South Korean national was indicted for plotting acts of terrorism with alleged links to Daesh militants while carrying out his mandatory military service.
The suspect was indicted on charges of having stolen one electric fuse for explosives during a special training on demolition techniques. He was also found to have had access to Daesh’s propaganda outlet, Amaq News Agency, and exchanged emails with Daesh militants through a secretive smartphone app, according to the police.