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Extremists threaten new attacks in Tajikistan
Abdullo was last home-grown militant threat, officials say
By Dilafruz Nabiyeva
DUSHANBE — Extremists are threatening new attacks against the Tajik government, having singled out President Emomali Rakhmon, whom they blame for Tajikistan's problems.
In a statement published in Tajik and English on various websites, a group calling itself Mujahideen of Tajikistan warned out of new attacks in retaliation for the slaying of “our brother,” Mullo Abdullo (born Abdullo Rakhimov).
Abdullo and 14 followers were killed by government forces in a Rasht Valley operation April 14-16. The army had pursued them since a September 19 insurgent ambush in the Kamarob Gorge killed 28 troops.
The militant statement called Abdullo and his supporters “martyrs who fought the enemies of Allah.” Tajikistan has “numerous brothers ready to give their lives for Allah,” the statement said.
However, government officials — including Security Council Secretary Amirkul Azimov — say Tajikistan no longer has subversive groups strong enough to destabilise the country.
“We know precisely what groups there were and what groups are left,” he said. “Only some individuals are left, and it’s possible they aren’t even in Tajikistan now.”
The “militants’ statement” is purely a provocation by foreign terrorists who cannot abide that Tajik security forces’ have destroyed other extremists inside Tajikistan, Interior Ministry (MVD) representatives said.
“The statement’s issuance is a sign of weakness,” one MVD official said on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think if such forces were present in Tajikistan that they’d spread such statements. On the contrary, they’d prefer to conceal their presence for a while and wait for the right moment. But such forces don’t exist in Tajikistan now.”
However, former MVD employee Usmon Davlataliyev doesn’t agree.
“We can’t give any guarantees that Tajikistan has no groups capable of threatening our stability, as long as our border with Afghanistan is wide-open,” he warned.
“The annihilation of Mullo Abdullo is not the end (of terrorist threats) for Tajikistan,” he continued. “The threat exists, and the situation will heat up. The president himself always reminds us of this, since every time he talks, he urges the population to show political vigilance.”
A terrorist threat could emanate from Uzbekistan, where insurgent field commander Makhmud Khudoyberdiyev is based, Davlataliyev continued, saying that Khudoyberdiyev had attacked northern Tajikistan several times.
It’s premature to speak of an end to terrorist threats simply because Abdullo is dead, said Khikmatullo Saifullozoda, spokesman for the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
“Certain foreign circles have an interest in seeing Tajikistan remain an unstable state,” he said. “I cannot foresee which Mujahideen will figure, but the ‘game’ continues. You can always find such Mujahideen here, especially given the socio-political problems we’ve got.”
Mullo Abdullo was no martyr, just a criminal, and no consequences will follow his death, said political scientist Rustam Samiyev.
“This country has practically no militants left, nor can it, since the government controls the entire populated part of the country, more or less,” he said. Not one bandit group is capable of threatening Rakhmon’s government, because foreign governments support the country’s government, Samiyev added.
Abdullo was the last of the insurgent field commanders who emerged from the 1992-1997 civil war, and he is unlikely to have any successors, said Abdugani Mamadazimov, chairman of the Association of Political Scientists of Tajikistan.
“Tajik society isn’t capable of giving birth to such extremist groups,” he said. “If terrorists make their presence known in Tajikistan, they’ll come from outside. They’ll be mercenaries.”