First Tajik Woman Jailed For Propagating IS

By RFE/RL's Tajik Service

DUSHANBE -- A Tajik woman has been sentenced to prison for joining the extremist Islamic State (IS) group and calling on Tajik youth to join "jihad" in Syria.

The Ismoili Somoni district court in Dushanbe on February 24 found 34-year-old Zarina Sardorova guilty of "training, financing, and materially supporting mercenaries taking part in military conflicts" and the "organization of activities of a banned group."

The court sentenced Sardorova to 13 years in prison, making her the first woman in Tajikistan to be sentenced for involvement with IS.

Investigators say the mother of two set up an account with the Russian Odnoklassniki social network using a false name. She was accused of using the page, which featured a picture of her brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle, to call on young Tajiks to join "jihad" in Syria and Iraq.

Later, in early 2015, Sardorova traveled to Syria via Turkey, where she married an unidentified man. It was her third marriage.

According to the Interior Ministry, one of Sardorova's previous spouses was an active member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which was branded a terrorist organization and banned in 2015

Tajik authorities arrested Sardorova at Dushanbe's international airport in October as she arrived on a flight from Turkey.

Sardorova's sentencing took place two days after 14 men in the country's Yovon district were detained for questioning after they "liked" an Islamic extremist video posted on Odnoklassniki.

The men were detained and questioned as part of an investigation into the video, which called on Tajik men and women to join IS.

Tajik authorities say at least 1,000 Tajik citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside IS militants.