DUSHANBE, January 25. /TASS/. Around 1,000 Tajikistani citizens, most of them young people, are fighting abroad alongside the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization, Tajikistan’s Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda told a press conference on Monday.
"According to security agencies, almost 1,000 of our citizens, mostly young people, are taking part in military actions abroad, in particular in Syria and Afghanistan," Rahimzoda said. He added that 156 people suspected of terrorist activities were detained, 61 people returned voluntarily, and more than 150 persons died in combat abroad.
The interior minister said he was concerned that "certain forces in the republic and beyond continue to recruit young Tajiks to extremist and terrorist organizations through social networks." Tajikistan’s security services took several preventive measures in order to solve this problem — activities have been stepped up in community centers and mosques with the help of people’s militia and volunteers.
Rahimzoda also praised the level of cooperation with colleagues in Russia in the sphere of joint fight against extremism. Russian security services helped identify several Tajik citizens among labor migrants who were lured by terrorist networks, he said.
Talking about the results of the counter-terrorist operation in the Ramit mountain gorge in September 2015 against rebels led by Tajikistan’s Deputy Defense Minister Abdulkhalim Nazarzoda, Rahimzoda said that 38 militants were killed and around 200 more arrested and charged.
The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announced the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.