Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Tajikistan

Overview: The Tajik government continues to make efforts to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism, enhance border security, and detect terrorist financing. The government maintains that northern Afghanistan is a primary source of terrorist activity, and Tajik security officials allege that thousands of militants, including FTFs, are present in Afghanistan’s northern provinces. The Tajik government reported on May 19 that prison guards and inmates were killed in a riot that broke out at the Kirpichniy high-security correctional facility on the outskirts of Dushanbe. On November 6, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a remote border post along the Tajik-Uzbek border. The Tajik government cooperates with international organizations, such as the EU, the OSCE, and UN on combating terrorism. Tajikistan is willing to engage with the United States on CT and border security issues.

2019 Terrorist Incidents:

  • On May 19 the Tajik government reported that three prison guards and 29 inmates were killed in a riot that broke out at the Kirpichniy high-security correctional facility in Vahdat on the outskirts of Dushanbe. Tajik authorities blamed the uprising on inmates serving time for alleged ties to terrorist or “extremist” groups. The Tajik Ministry of Interior Affairs also claimed that the ringleader of the riot was Behruz Gulmurod, the son of Gulmurod Halimov, the former Tajik special forces commander who defected to ISIS in 2015. ISIS claimed responsibility for the riot, as well as the release of prisoners affiliated with the Islamic State.
  • On November 6, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a remote border post along the Tajik-Uzbek border that Tajik authorities claim killed at least 17 people. The State Committee for National Security (GKNB) affirmed that the attackers were ISIS loyalists and that the attack occurred near the small town of Esanboi, in Tajikistan’s southwest Rudaki region.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Tajikistan’s lower house of Parliament ratified an agreement in October that authorized border agencies of Commonwealth of Independent States to assist with rapid response to external border threats. OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department convened a CT seminar in Dushanbe that provided Tajik law enforcement officials with a platform to share best practices for criminal justice responses for combatting terrorism. Tajikistan repatriated 84 children of FTFs using its own resources in April. The Tajik government continues to unilaterally designate political opposition groups such as the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, or religious affiliations, such as Salafi Muslims, as terrorist groups.

Travel document security and biographic and biometric screening capabilities are still lacking at ports of entry, particularly at land crossings. Major entry points have access to INTERPOL data and other lists, but connectivity issues at smaller border posts remain unresolved.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Tajikistan is a member of the EAG. Tajikistan’s FIU is also a member of the Egmont Group.

In January, the EAG published a Mutual Evaluation Report that reviewed Tajikistan’s compliance with FATF standards and the effectiveness of Tajikistan’s AML/CFT system. In May, Tajikistan hosted the second annual high-level conference dedicated to addressing regional terrorism trends, “International and Regional Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and its Financing through Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime.” High-ranking delegates from former Soviet bloc countries, Afghanistan, Japan, the United States, and multilateral organizations including the UN, the OSCE, and CSTO member states participated.

On December 1, the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT) announced that it will launch a national money transfer center that will centralize the receipt of remittances from abroad. The NBT will be able to monitor and regulate alternative remittances services, collect data on wire transfers, and monitor non-profit organizations to prevent misuse of financing to sponsor terrorist activities.

Countering Violent Extremism: Tajikistan amended its criminal laws in 2015, allowing authorities to pardon Tajik FTFs who voluntarily return home from Iraq or Syria, express remorse for their actions, and renounce ties to foreign militant groups. The Tajik government continues to place heavy restrictions on groups it classifies as “extremist,” including those groups’ political and religious expression. In 2019, Tajikistan was again designated a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

International and Regional Cooperation: Tajikistan is a strong supporter of the C5+1 framework in the region and serves as a co-chair of the C5+1 Security Working Group. In May, Tajikistan hosted the most recent Security Working Group, with the participation of the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), where participants discussed efforts to repatriate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate FTFs.

The Tajik government coordinated with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to prepare for the potential influx of Afghan refugees and/or civil unrest in Afghanistan. Twenty-eight government agencies participated in the June exercise to prepare a government response to the potential influx of Afghan refugees in case of widespread unrest in northern Afghanistan.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China arrived in Badakhshon’s Ishkashim district for joint Tajik-Chinese anti-terrorism exercises in August. The joint exercises took place along the border with Afghanistan and involved one PLA company and a Tajik mobile forces battalion. The two militaries trained against terrorist infiltration from Afghanistan into China via Tajik territory.

Tajikistan also participated in UNODC-administered training on detecting and preventing terrorist travel to enhance compliance with UNSCR 2396. Tajikistan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. During the 2019 CIS Summit, Tajikistan’s president signed onto a cooperative agreement between the CIS members to jointly combat terrorism. The agreement included preventive measures for “countering extremism, radicalization of the population,” and financing terrorism, as well as involving civil society and mass media, holding special trainings, and the use of modern technologies for timely response to potential threats.