Rahmon monitors situation in Tajikistan from Europe
The terrorist attack in Tajikistan did not affect the plans of President Emomali Rahmon, who is on an official visit to Europe. In Zurich, he met with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Jamie Fly, and called for objective coverage of the republic's issues. In France, Rahmon will address the Paris Peace Forum, which is due to take place on November 11-13. Despite being busy, the Tajik leader controls the situation in the country and gives instructions to the security chiefs.
At night on November 6, 20 ISIS militants (the terror group banned in Russia) wearing black masks attacked the Ishkobod border outpost of a military unit of the Sultanabad border detachment near the Tajik-Uzbek border, Tajik security officials said. According to the statement, "the armed terrorist group had illegally entered Qabodiyon district in Tajikistan's Khatlon region from the Qalai-e Zal district of Afghanistan's Kunduz Province on November 3, 2019." As a result of the clash, 15 ISIS militants neutralized and five others were detained. There are losses among border guards as well, according to preliminary data, up to four people. During the operation, four vehicles of the attack group were also destroyed. Meanwhile, ISIS has not taken responsibility for the clash.
According to the results of the investigation, all the attackers, including women, were citizens of Tajikistan. According to spokesman for the Tajikistan Interior Ministry Umarjon Emomali, the detainees admitted that they were ISIS members and entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan. However, the Kabul authorities have refuted the report. Afghan law enforcement agencies, contacted by Russian expert Andrei Serenko, insist that "the traces of the terror group should be looked for beyond the territory of Afghanistan." The Afghan law enforcers do not exclude that "the group was formed already on the territory of Tajikistan." It is hard to say to what degree ISIS is responsible.
The expert on Tajikistan, Andrei Zakhvatov, told Vestnik Kavkaza that the border crossing section indicated by the Tajik security forces is the most open area where it is very difficult to go unnoticed. This area is even bypassed by drug couriers. "The first and most important thing is the composition of the group. It is unlikely that such a large group of attackers can be called professional militants, especially members of banned terrorist organizations. It is doubtful that they were brought from afar to attack the border post. In the nearby Tajik villages one can hire hundreds of unemployed to commit unlawful acts for little money. After the 1990s civil war, the population still has a lot of small arms, and professional terrorists are unlikely to have an urgent need to seize a few guns, especially - let alone try to repel the weapons in the fight," the expert believes.
According to him, it's hard to believe that the attack on the border post is explained by the terrorists' plan to carry out terrorist acts following this clash. The thing is that effective terrorist attacks are not planned in the countryside, while an extra noise of an outpost attack is unlikely to distract the security forces, but will increase their vigilance throughout the republic. Moreover, it would be foolish to start large-scale actions from Afghanistan with the onset of winter, when high mountain passes are closed. "All major operations begin in the spring when roads and trails open," the expert emphasized.
According to expert on Central Asia and the Middle East Alexander Knyazev, the first discrepancy in the official version is of geographical nature. "Only people not capable of elemental logical thought could move in a way as unknown 'masked people' did. Getting from the Afghan Qalai-e Zal (Kunduz), passing two districts, is too difficult, about 200-300 km across Tajik territory and passing by a dozen other outposts. Without going into other, more technical, details, I think that all this was a performance, a provocation," Knyazev noted.
State Security Veteran Davlathodzha Nazirov shared his observations with the Tajik newspaper Asia Plus: "It is unlikely that a group of 20 ISIS fighters secretly crossed Afghanistan's state border with Tajikistan, and it is unbelievable that they traveled through the country for three days without being seen, almost 200 km from Qabodiyon to Rudaki district, and were able to almost approach the capital." The expert also questions the fact of the quick destruction of the criminal group. "The militants used the element of surprise. In addition, ISIS militants couldn't organize such an unskilled attack that could be suppressed by the Tajik security forces so quickly, Nazirov believes. Most likely, the destroyed group consisted of terrorists and extremists citizens of Tajikistan. The expert does not exclude that the militants attacked the border post on the way from Tajikistan to Afghanistan, and not vice versa, as evidenced by the fact that they traveled by car with Dushanbe license plate.
The license plates of one of the cars are clearly visible in the photo published by the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs. The car was registered in Dushanbe - 01. In addition, the bodies of women were also visible in the photographs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with one of which wearing slippers - which are rather uncomfortable shoes for special operations. In addition, one of the killed men had his hands tied behind his back.
Experts do not exclude that the attack could have been committed by home-grown extremists who intended to join ISIS in Afghanistan. The Tajik Islamic underground, as Deputy Director General of the Moscow Center for Strategic Assessments and Forecasts Igor Pankratenko told Vestnik Kavkaza, is a very multibranch network that cannot be traced. On the other hand, it could be a demonstration for Moscow, Washington and Beijing, as well as to the entire SCO that Tajikistan is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and that it needs help in fighting against it.
However, Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov believes that ISIS has begun transferring militants to Central Asian countries. In recent years, Moscow has repeatedly warned of such a threat, the diplomat noted. According to him, this situation poses a threat, including to Russia. Kabulov noted that Russia is helping its allies in the region, mainly through the CSTO. A few days ago, Russia donated a batch of military equipment and weapons to Tajikistan worth 320 million rubles. As explained by the Commander of Russia's Central Military District, Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Lapin, Tajikistan received radar stations and BRDM-2M modern armoured reconnaissance and patrol vehicles, which is "proven and reliable equipment." The ceremony took place in Dushanbe at the end of October when the Unbreakable Brotherhood 2019 joint drills of the CSTO member stated were completed.