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By Dilafruz Nabiyeva
DUSHANBE – Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security (GKNB) is creating a list of individuals suspected of involvment in terrorism after Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon August 1 approved amendments to the nation’s anti-terror law.
The amendments will govern how the GKNB compiles the list and will allow authorities to freeze the bank accounts and confiscate real estate and movable assets from people on the list, according to Rakhmon’s press office.
The government enacted the law to improve Tajik compliance with international legal standards, according to the presidential press service.
Tajikistan based the amendments on the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental agency formed to fight money laundering. Both chambers of the Tajik parliament approved the amendments before Rakhmon signed them into law.
14 organisations banned
The Tajik Supreme Court has banned 14 organisations, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Party of Turkestan (or the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The number of banned organisations could change depending on court decisions, said Jumakhon Davlatov, Rakhmon’s emissary to parliament and state councillor on legal policy.
It is more important than ever to block terror financing and money laundering in Tajikistan, he said.
“The events of 2010-2011 in the Rasht Valley and the recent events in ... the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) signal the need to tighten oversight,” he said.
“The (Rasht) investigation … showed that the illegal armed groups had been receiving funds from abroad,” Tajik General Prosecutor Sherkhon Salimzoda said. “Therefore, the law has been revised to prevent terror financing through banks and known terrorist groups.”
Another major concern for law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor general's office is money laundering by the leaders of armed terrorist groups from the GBAO.
Terror funding from abroad
In one of his last interviews, Imumnazar Imumnazarov, a former civil war insurgent commander in the GBAO, said that he and other GBAO ex-commanders had received repeated offers of money to carry out terrorist acts in Tajikistan and to stage a coup d’état. However, Imumnazarov never specified who offered the money. He was killed in his Khorog house by unknown gunmen August 22.
Some Tajik political scientists say the country must have clear guidelines in determining if someone actually is involved in terrorist activity.
“The list may include leaders of large extremist organisations that are recognised as extremist in many countries, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or Jamaat Ansarullah,” said political scientist Parviz Mulladzhanov. “But we need to be very careful toward individuals who are suspected members of these organisations. Otherwise, instead of a list of people involved in terrorism, we will get yet another mechanism to quash the opposition, be it legal or illegal.”
Many countries and international organisations compile such lists, noted Abdugani Mamadazimov, head of the Association of Political Scientists of Tajikistan.
“The upside is that Tajikistan is keeping up with global practice in combating terrorism, but the downside is that, if we have no clear criteria or system for compiling the list, people with a voice in politics – be they opponents or simply those who disagree with government policy – may be included on it,” he said. “In this case, the list will lose its original meaning.”
The amendments are useful because Tajiks need to have a clear idea which organisations or individuals are considered a terrorist threat, said Muhiddin Kabiri, leader of the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
“But we have to decide for ourselves, and not just copy our neighbours – say, they have recognised someone as a terrorist, so now we have to do the same,” he said. “This is not right. Only a court can determine the degree to which a person or group is involved in terrorism.”