Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Jihad Jitters in Tajikistan
Sightings of Tajiks among Islamist rebel fighters in Syria have created a new security headache for the government in Dushanbe.
Officials say there are about 200 Tajikistan nationals in Syria. The group recruiting most foreigners is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (See also Central Asian Recruits for Syrian Conflict.)
The head of the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party, Muhiddin Kabiri, warns that jihadi fighters returning from Syria could pose a significant security threat to Tajikistan.
“Young people here have very one-sided, incorrect ideas about Islamic values, including jihad,” he continued.
Like many other commentators in this Central Asian state, Kabiri believes people are susceptible to radicalisation because of the lack of normal employment prospects for them in a moribund economy.
“They are protesting against everything, and they think that if things haven’t worked out for them in this life, they can secure a decent life in the next world,” he explained.
“If the government could provide them with a decent life and stop them becoming ‘military gastarbeiters’, it would be possible to save an awful lot of them.”
Religious affairs expert Faridun Khodizoda says many young men are drawn into Islamic extremist groups while they are away from home, working as migrant labourers in Russia.
Mehrangez Tursunzoda is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.
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