Tajikistan: Mullo Abdullo Again?
Last summer, Tajik authorities used the pretext of a poppy eradication campaign – in the poppy-less Rasht Valley – to hunt for the elusive Abdullo Rakhimov, a.k.a. Mullo Abdulloh, a United Tajik Opposition (UTO) commander during Tajikistan’s 1990s civil war. He was reportedly hiding in the region after years of monkey business in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They never found him. But they did find former UTO commander and ex-Minister of Emergency Situations Mirzo Ziyoev. Ziyoev was killed in a shootout near his home in Tavildara in July 2009. Authorities argued that Ziyoev’s own men shot and killed him in a last-minute betrayal during a gun battle with government forces.Some of the guys who escaped in a recent high-profile jailbreak were Ziyoev’s relatives. While the manhunt continues to focus on Rasht, local media report that the heads of Tajikistan’s security ministries are in the area sniffing around, accompanied by hundreds of paratroopers arriving daily. Such reports hint that Mullo Abdulloh and his followers are in the area. Could the mysterious Mullo again become a cover for operations in the opposition stronghold?