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Tajikistan and Islamic State: Threat or Bogeyman?

Gulmurod Khalimov (center), a well-known Islamic State commander who served as a high-ranking officer in Tajikistan’s OMON riot police before defecting in early 2015. Authorities in Tajikistan have presented a murky, muddled and contradictory public message — on the one hand warning of a clear and present danger of religious extremism, while also claiming that they are containing the challenge. (Video screenshot)

Perhaps the greatest existential threat facing Tajikistan is posed by the Islamic State militant group, according to the government narrative. Or maybe not, some officials suggest.
 
For the past few years, authorities in Tajikistan have presented a murky, muddled and contradictory public message — on the one hand warning of a clear and present danger of religious extremism, while also claiming that they are containing the challenge.
 
In January, a top security official told reporters that the number of Tajik citizens joining the ranks of Islamic State in 2016 had dwindled to only a few dozen. But at least one recent report has dampened the optimism behind Tajik officials’ statements. According to research by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, based in The Hague, an alarming number of Tajiks over the past year have carried out suicide missions in Syria and Iraq.
 

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Tajikistan and Islamic State: Threat or Bogeyman?

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