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Tajik Police Arrest 35 Suspected Islamic Recruits in Three Months

Concerns that students are among those targeted.
By Mahasti Dustmurod











Tajikistan’s education ministry reports that five university students have gone off to join Islamic State militants in Syria. Three were studying in the capital Dushanbe while the others were attending university in the Russian city of Kostroma.

The news comes as police say 35 people have been arrested while trying to leave Tajikistan for Syria in the last three months.

Islamic State is recruiting people with skills like doctors, teachers, cooks and electricians, as well as footsoldiers.

Sociologist Halim Qurbonov says that Tajiks who have obtained degrees from Western universities are particularly valued by Islamic state.

“Islamic State has a proven track-record of recruiting people – initially, they offer help to those in need, and then they bring them to Syria,” he added.

Tajikistan’s interior ministry has been running campaigns in the media, educational institutions and in the mosques to deter people from being enticed by Islamic State’s message. (See Countering Extremism in Tajikistan for more on this.)

Mahasti Dustmurod is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.

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