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Tue, 28 Jan 2020 00:16 GMT

Russia Says Isis Seeks to Return across Central Asia

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Fri, 08 Nov 2019 22:30 GMT

Isis is trying to move to Central Asia from Afghanistan the day after an attack in Tajikistan attributed to the terrorist group, Alexander Portnikov, head of the Russian Federal Security Service, said on Thursday, November 7th.

”We are monitoring rising activity of Isis units in Afghanistan," Portnikov told a meeting of the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) security services in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The CIS is a regional intergovernmental organisation of originally ten post-Soviet republics in Eurasia formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“Their goal is to create a strong expansion site across the CIS and will use fighters from Central Asian republics with combat experience," Portnikov was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency.

He said that the Wilayat Khorasan wing of the organisation active in Afghanistan is "closely linked" to two other jihadist groups, Ansar Allah and Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkmenistan.

The comments came a day after 17 people were killed in an attack on border guards near the Uzbekistan border.

Tajik authorities said the attackers were Isis members who arrived in Afghanistan three days ago. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Tajikistan, a predominantly Muslim country, has seen an Islamist insurgency in recent years.

Authorities said more than 1,000 Tajiks had joined the ranks of Islamist fighters in Syria and Iraq in the past few years.

The most prominent fighters from Tajikistan were Gulmurod Khalimov, who was commander of the Interior Ministry's Special Forces unit before he announced his defection and joining Isis in a video attributed to the group in 2015.

In May, at least 32 people were killed in a mutiny in a Tajik prison, including 19 Isis members and several guards.

The prison is located in the town of Khaddat, 17 kilometres east of Dushanbe, and has 1,500 prisoners.

In July 2018, an attack on foreign tourists on bicycles killed four people and left two injured.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack on the riders, including two Americans.

Middle East