04/03/2024, 11.05
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Isis recruitment in Tajikistan

by Vladimir Rozansky

The number of Tajiks involved in the Moscow massacre is increasing, with arrests and verifications also by the Dushanbe authorities. Despite the clampdown on mosques, recruitment is taking place via social networks, among the most marginalised sections of the population. And the hostility that is forcing many migrants to return home could have repercussions on the country ruled by Rakhmon for thirty years.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews) - The number of Tajiks associated with the Krokus City Hall attack on March 22 is continually increasing, with arrests and checks also by the Dushanbe authorities, who have proposed to their colleagues in Moscow to conduct joint investigations.

Various commentators spoke on Radio Ozodi on the reasons why the citizens of Tajikistan give in so easily to the lure of ISIS terrorists, including the Russian-Tajik political scientist Khursand Khurramov, who recalled the many tragic events of recent times before that of Moscow, Istanbul, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, where several names of Tajik citizens were highlighted.

Another expert in the sector, the Tajik orientalist Parviz Mullodžanov, believes that the radicalization of young Tajiks is essentially due to "socio-economic factors", with the most marginalized citizens approaching extremist organizations through internet access.

In his opinion, "in the last ten years the jihadists have started to use new strategies, based on the use of social networks, while previously they mainly tried to take control of the mosques". The Tajik authorities have imposed strict control on places of worship, so they have focused on the masses of digital users.

The problem is that every year at least 150 thousand Tajiks are excluded from the labor market, and most of them try to get by with labor migration. A similar situation is created in other countries in Central Asia and North Africa, such as Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, but Tajikistan is one of the countries with the highest rate of population increase (+ 2.4% per year). The main destination for migrants remains Russia, which thus becomes the main field of action for ISIS recruiters.

In an interview with Asia-Plus, the deputy director of the Dushanbe Islamic Research Institute, Rustam Azizi, actually believes that the propaganda concerns both migrants and residents, especially among young people under 30 looking for work .

The main characteristics of these people are "the identity crisis, which we try to resolve with the increase in religiosity, criminal tendencies and the marginalization of people with very low levels of education", for which religiosity often remains an assumed factor “with little self-awareness”.

Temur Umarov, from the Carnegie center in Berlin, also believes that "poverty and the increasingly glaring social inequality, in the digital age and total transparency, greatly exacerbate the feeling of injustice".

This is especially true in regimes like the Tajik one of Emomali Rakhmon, whose family owns practically the entire country, and is not ashamed to show off its power and wealth everywhere.

Approaching the transition phase after thirty years of dictatorship, Rakhmon "has swept away every vestige of civil society, also cleansing the regional administrations of members deemed to be less than loyal, given that there can be no question of any type of opposition", observes Umarov.

Mukhiddin Kabiri, the leader of the National Alliance of Tajikistan party, banned for years at all levels, reiterates that "in recent years such conditions of political and social life have been imposed in the country as to push the youth into the embrace of ISIS and any other terrorist organization."

It is no coincidence that those arrested for the Moscow attack are between 19 and 30 years old, "all born and raised under the Rakhmon regime, where even the imams are appointed by the state committee for religious affairs".

Tajik authorities usually justify further repression based on the international community's reactions to the most sensational crimes, but experts doubt that this time the Krokus massacre could play into Rakhmon's hands. The strong wave of hostility against the Tajiks in Russia is in fact forcing many compatriots to return to their homeland, which could cause new crises on a social-economic and even political level.

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