Afghanistan: No, Militants Aren't Massing At Central Asia's Borders
There are no camps of terrorists gathering in northern Afghanistan near the borders of Central Asia, an Afghan security official said, in response to a series of claims recently by Russian and Central Asian officials to that effect.
The official, the border service's commander in the north Mir Naim Haydari, added that his agency intends to establish regular contacts with its Central Asian counterparts to exchange operational information about developing issues. He made the comments to Ariana-TV, reported the news agency AfTag. Haydari just returned from a visit to Tajikistan, where he also discussed the issue of the four Tajikistan border guards who were seized by militants in December and are still being held in Afghanistan.
In December, Russia's special envoy to Afghanistan gave detailed information about the supposed existence of ISIS training camps on the borders of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and the massing of thousands of militants there. That was followed by similar statements by anonymous sources of security services of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Russian press, and last week, the head of Tajikistan's Interior Ministry publicly claimed that militants from the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were massing at Tajikistan's borders.
The minister, Ramozon Rakhimzoda, added that Tajikistan was setting up an Interior Ministry office in Afghanistan, "which will coordinate efforts of the interior ministry organs of the two countries in the fight against organized crime, extremism, and illegal trade in drugs and weapons."
Russia and Central Asian governments have long been overplaying the threat that Islamist militants present to their countries, but it's not clear what is behind the recent spate of even more dire -- and apparently unfounded -- assessments.
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
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