04/16/2015, 00.00
TAJIKISTAN

Former jihadist escapes from the Islamic state: We had to kill everyone, without pity

A young Tajik has managed to return home and tell how he was recruited by the militants of the Islamic State. The terrorists wanted to force him and his companions to kill children, women, Jews, Shiites. The government in Dushanbe has banned the pilgrimage to Mecca for citizens under the age of 35 years. The trips contribute to the spread of radical ideas among young people.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews) - " They said: ‘You must kill children without compassion, you must kill women, Jews, infidels and Shiites'. This is the testimony of a young Tajik, recruited in Moscow by the militia of the Islamic State (IS) to fight in Syria and who managed to escape.

The man, fled to Turkey, and managed to return to his country of origin where he spoke to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty about how the terrorists enticed him and other men through the internet: "There are websites that say: ‘This is the true path, the path of Allah’. But it wasn’t only that. We also heard lectures promising rewards from Allah if you become a martyr”.

Once he had left Russia, the man only realized the consequences of his choice when he arrived in Turkey. He said that he and other comrades thought they were going to Syria to study, not to fight. The militiamen instead incited them to brutally kill anyone they saw, even women and children. Moreover if they died as martyrs then, their wives "would be married to other jihadists."

The recruiting foreign fighters by the Caliphate, is an obvious problem in several Central Asian countries, which have implemented initiatives to protect the territories that border with Afghanistan. Recently, the International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report in which it estimated that between 2 thousand and 4 thousand citizens of Central Asian origin have joined Islamic extremists in Syria over the past three years.

In December 2014, the Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon acknowledged that several young people had joined the ranks of the militia in the Middle East and described IS as "a modern plague that poses a serious threat to global security." Rakhmon added that Tajik citizens who join the terrorists' cause are a “source of instability in society”, because they are recruited in the country through new forms of communication.

On April13, the Commission for Religious Affairs and Cultural Rights has decided to respond to the president’s appeal - who last month called on all authorities to promote the development of a secular society - and banned pilgrimages to Mecca (hajj) to those under 35. The Committee argues that the ban is a useful attempt to prevent the formation of radical ideas among young people. In contrast according to experts this makes it a great opportunity for older Muslims to make the pilgrimage, since Saudi Arabia has limited the annual number of the faithful who travel to the holy sites.

The Committee has also added a series of measures implemented by the government in Dushanbe to spread the principles of the secular state, in a country where Muslims are 97% of 8 million inhabitants. The authorities have already banned the use of the veil for female students, admission of children to mosques and forced thousands of students who were studying in  Islamic schools abroad to return home.

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