ISIS, aka Daesh, has been hit hard in Syria and Iraq after the United States defeated the terrorist group in its main strongholds. However, ISIS has been trying to regroup in other regions away from Syria and Iraq, especially in Tajikistan.
Tajikistan, which was part of the former Soviet Union until 1991, has been challenging takfiri movements since its independence. The former Soviet country is located in the north of Afghanistan. Tajikistan has become independent after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tajikistan has been the destination, where ISIS fighters escaped to after its defeat in Syria and Iraq. In November 2019, ISIS claimed a terrorist attack on a border guard center in Tajikistan.
A group of masked men pledged allegiance to ISIS new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. The Tajik security authorities said the attack killed 17 people, including 15 ISIS terrorists, one policeman and one military personnel. However, ISIS said at least 10 Tajik security personnel were killed.
The Tajik Interior Ministry said that some Tajik nationals of ISIS, who came 3 days earlier from Afghanistan, had carried out the attack.
The Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research said hundreds of Uzbek extremists from East Asia and the Caucasus had gone to Iraq and Syria.
The center said takfiris from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan had gone to Syria and Iraq because of the the international coalition’s restrictions in Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, Andrei Grozin, a Central Asia expert at the Institute for Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow, told Sputnik news agency that ISIS’ presence in Tajikistan poses a threat to Russian tourists and Russia as a whole.
Grozin said that the people linked to ISIS are not necessarily organizational, pointing out that there are sleeper cells as well.
These sleeper cells share the same ideology, Grozin said.
According to Tajik police estimates, more than 500 Tajiks had joined ISIS. The International Center for Counter-terrorism, said in a study in 2017 that Tajikistan has provided ISIS with foreign suicide bombers. That underscores Tajikistan’s jeopardy as ISIS takfiris return to their home countries.