A public statement by a group calling itself the Mujahedin of Tajikistan has set the experts guessing about whether such an organisation really exists. What they do agree on, however, is that Tajikistan is increasingly vulnerable to militant activity from a mix of dissatisfied Islamists at home, and armed groups over the border in Afghanistan.
The Mujahedin of Tajikistan issued a statement posted on Islamist websites on April 24, warning of revenge attacks against the Tajik government for the death of veteran militant leader Mullo Abdullo, killed by the security forces on April 26 during a military operation in the Rasht valley in the eastern mountains. (For more on this incident, see Few Tears Shed for “Tajik Bin Laden”.)
The Tajik government has not publicly addressed the various permutations of the threat – ranging from insignificant local groups to a coordinated network of local and foreign fighters. One senior official, quoted anonymously by the Regnum news agency, said the threat should not be taken seriously, there was no destabilising force left now that Mullo Abdullo was dead, and the law enforcement forces were in full control of the situation.
A Tajik security source told IWPR, also anonymously, that such statements might well emanate from disgruntled civil war-era commanders now living in Russia – and incapable of doing anything more than make threats. “They’re able to sit and disseminate information via the internet, but they are not capable of fighting against government forces,” he said.
Lola Olimova is IWPR’s Tajikistan editor.
This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.