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Tajikistan finds terrorist training camps
Camps said to menace country and region
By Rukhshona Ibragimova
DUSHANBE – Within days of the September 19 terrorist ambush of a Defence Ministry convoy, a large-scale operation by security forces revealed the presence of terrorist training camps in the Rasht Valley, officials are saying.
Security forces discovered a terrorist group led by former United Tajik Opposition (UTO) field commander Mirzohuja Ahmadov, better known as Belgi, said State Committee on National Security (GKNB) spokesman Nozirjon Buriyev.
“Ahmadov has not given up his intention to destabilise the country and continues his criminal activities and the training of terrorists," Buriyev said. "For a long time, Ahmadov concealed … UTO field commander Mullo Abdullo in his house, gathered mercenaries from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Chechnya and also set up several terrorist camps to train teenagers."
One training centre was in the house of Sairiddin Azizov, aka Hoji Sairiddin, a resident of the village of Porvog, Rasht District, Buriyev said.
Azizov's brothers Negmat and Rahmiddin were killed in clashes with government forces in June and September, respectively, Buriyev said.
Training camp found after suspect is interrogated
Troops discovered a bomber training camp September 26 after detaining one of its students, 26-year-old Halim Isoyev of Vose District, Khatlon Oblast, Buriyev said.
The camp consisted of 10 people under the leadership of Mavlavi Zikrullo, who taught young men how to use weapons and explosives, Isoyev said on local TV.
“Mirzohuja Ahmadov and Ali Bedaki often visited us in the camp and supplied us,” Isoyev added. Ali Bedaki, aka Alovuddin Davlatov, is another suspect in the attack on the Defence Ministry convoy. Davlatov’s brother, Husniddin Davlatov, made a sworn statement against him after being arrested.
An anonymous GKNB source said Isoyev was detained September 16 with explosives and orders to bomb several targets in the capital. The source added that the GKNB is tracking other potential terrorist who received training in Pakistan.
Terrorists have an extensive network throughout the Rasht region, the source said. “Had we not managed to take out this hornets’ nest, (its members) would have linked up with groups of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is operating in the country’s north,” the source said.
About 10 terrorist camps could exist in Tajikistan, the source said.
A few days ago, Tajik television broadcast news of the arrest of three suspects in connection with the September 3 car bombing of a police station in Khudzhand. One of the detainees confessed that his brother was an IMU member and that he had carried out the attack to punish his enemies and go to heaven.
“It’s become possible to blame the existence and intensification of terrorist groups not just on those directly tied to them," said Sherali Rasulov, a former security service official. "Ahmadov and Davlatov trained the terrorists, but Mullo Abdullo himself, according to GKNB information, was involved in the attack. He, after all, once escaped from Tajikistan alive and well."
Authorities should not have freed Abdullo and Ahmadov in 2001, Rasulov said, since both broke their word to stay peaceful: Abdullo returned from Afghanistan and Ahmadov took up arms again.
But doubts about whether Abdullo is even alive circulate. Tajik journalist Sanjar Hamidov said he saw Abdullo's supposed grave in Afghanistan in October 2001.
If Mullo Abdullo is dead, international terrorists are using his name to attract new supporters, military analyst Shahobiddin Ziyoyev said.
Rasht is called ideal for terror camps
“The Rasht zone is good for setting up terrorist camps," Ziyoyev said. "Many parts of it are impenetrable. But they clearly selected students not just from this area; they had access to other regions … Brainwashing (youth) by promising them the romanticism of fighting ‘infidels’ and having a lot of money is not too difficult."
The September 19 ambush was so successful because the recently GKNB authorities had underestimated the militant danger, while their replacements had not had time to master the situation, an anonymous GKNB source said.
The military prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case on the ambush September 20, the military prosecutor’s chief assistant, Khomidzhon Ibodov, told Central Asia Online. The probe will seek to find how the ambush occurred and how it inflicted so many casualties, Ibodov said, adding that the GKNB, Interior Ministry and other security agencies will help investigate.
Tajikistan needs to work more closely with neighbouring states' intelligence agencies to avoid a repeat of these events and to thwart cross-border movement by terrorists, Ziyoyev said.
"The recent events in Tajikistan – particularly the activation of several armed groups in the country’s east – have aroused mixed reactions throughout the world," political analyst Rustam Haidarov said. "In countries like Russia and Germany, politicians and experts are vigorously debating the causes and possible consequences of the state confronting the illegal extremist groups in Tajikistan."
“But Tajikistan’s neighbours have so far not responded to these events. Invariably, we must remember that the Central Asian countries have an identical socio-political landscape and that the (Tajik scenario) could be repeated in these countries.”
“The victory of religious extremists in any Central Asian country will pose a threat to all secular states in the region," Haidarov said. "They (the countries) must be united and consistent.”
Tajik and Afghan presidents Emomali Rahmon and Hamid Karzai in a telephone conversation September 27 discussed their collaboration in fighting terrorism. The two leaders emphasised the need for the two countries to secure their border, step up the dismantlement of terrorist camps and exchange intelligence, the Tajik Presidential Press Service said.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia Miroslav Jenča plans to discuss the stabilisation of Tajikistan during an upcoming visit to Dushanbe.
Meanwhile, neighbouring countries have begun hardening their border with Tajikistan. Forty Russian border guard advisors relocated from a Bishkek suburb to southern Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan plans to harden its border checkpoints and purchase new equipment. Uzbekistan plans to buy new equipment and perhaps conduct training sessions for border guards, Solmon Ahdatov of the Uzbek State Border Protection Committee’s Press Service said.