Four Islamic State (IS) extremists that Dushanbe is trying to extradite from Syria include Tajik militants linked to dozens of terrorist attacks and a notorious online propaganda campaign aimed at recruiting fighters to the IS.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office in Dushanbe says Tajik authorities “have established” that Parviz Saidrahmonov and Tojiddin Nazarov are currently being held at “prisons in Syria and Iraq” after being captured by Kurdish forces.
“We are completing paperwork to repatriate Saidrahmonov…and we hope he will be brought back to Tajikistan in the coming days,” Muzaffar Yusufi, a representative of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, told reporters on January 28.
“Besides Saidrahmonov, some other militants who were engaged in recruiting Tajik citizens to the terrorist group will be extradited, too,” Yusufi said.
Yusufi didn’t provide further details about the other extremists that are being sought.
But sources close to law enforcement agencies in Dushanbe told RFE/RL that two others on the extradition list are Dilovar Dodoev and Abdulahad Nazarov. Both Tajik men were arrested in Syria in 2019.
While Tajikistan has already repatriated dozens of family members of IS fighters, Dushanbe’s current effort marks the first time the Tajik government has sought the extradition of Tajik IS extremists imprisoned in the Middle East.
Parviz Saidrahmonov – who is also known as Abu Daoud — was one of the first Central Asians to join IS in 2014 and undertake its online propaganda work as a zealous recruiter.
Among those said to have been “inspired” by Saidrahmonov’s recruitment was Rakhmat Akilov, an Uzbek national who carried out a truck attack in Stockholm in April 2017 that killed five people and seriously injured 14 others.
Saidrahmonov’s 4-year-old daughter, Sumaya, made headlines in Tajikistan in 2016 when she confused a prominent local singer with her father, whom she knew only from photos and videos.
The singer, who bears a resemblance to Saidrahmonov, visited the child after reading media reports about how Sumaya watched him on TV and believed her father was an artist.
Saidrahmonov, meanwhile, remained in Syria with his new wife and their three children until they were arrested in 2019 during an unsuccessful attempt to escape.
The 33-year-old Saidrahmonovappeared in a November 2019 Turkish television report about IS fighters arrested in Afrin in northern Syria.
With his signature long hair shorn from his head and his bushy beard neatly trimmed, Saidrahmonov did not tell reporters his real name. But he said unambiguously that he “had come to Syria to fight.”
‘Dangerous IS recruiter’
Tojiddin Nazarov — a 33-year-old who also is known as Abu Osama Noraki — is considered by Dushanbe to be among the “most dangerous IS recruiters” from Tajikistan. Authorities say his recruitment efforts attracted dozens of Tajiks who joined the extremist group.
Among them were seven Tajik nationals, including women, who were arrested in eastern Iran while trying to cross into Afghanistan.
Those detainees claim they were convinced over social media by Nazarov to join IS fighters in Afghanistan.
They say Nazarov organized their attempt to enter Afghanistan via several facilitators along the route of their journey.
Nazarov joined the IS extremist group in 2014. He has been linked to several terrorist attacks — including his alleged efforts to coordinate the deadly Stockholm attack in a hijacked truck.
Nazarov was captured by Syrian Kurdish forces. He is currently thought to be held at a prison in Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria.
Companion of IS ‘War Minister’
Dilovar Dodoev came to the attention of Tajik authorities in 2015 when he appeared in an IS propaganda video alongside Gulmurod Halimov, a former Tajik police colonel who became the extremist group’s so-called “war minister.”
In February 2019, Kurdish forces announced that the 30-year-old Dodoev had been arrested while trying to cross into Turkey from Syria.
Dodoev — a former soccer coach from Tajikistan’s northern city of Istaravshan – is thought to have been close to Halimov. But little else is known about him.
The United States in 2016 offered a $3 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Halimov.
Tajik authorities say they think Dodoev could provide valuable information about Halimov.
“Dodoev fought in the same [IS] unit with Halimov” and “has a lot of information about the fugitive colonel,” a Tajik law enforcement official told RFE/RL shortly after Dodoev’s arrest was announced.
The fourth man on Tajikistan’s extradition list, Abdulahad Nazarov, surrendered to Syrian Kurdish forces early in 2019.
He is a former taxi driver from the city of Vahdat, about 20 kilometers east of Dushanbe, and is not related to Tojiddin Nazarov.
In a video interview shared by Reuters, Abdulahad Nazarov claimed that he has long been disillusioned with IS and that he’d tried several times to flee the extremist group.
But Reuters also reported discrepancies in his account.
Abdulahad Nazarov and his family claim he had been in contact with Tajik authorities and that they were aware of his attempts to flee from IS.
Abdulahad Nazarov traveled to Syria in 2016 after he’d finished serving a one-year prison sentence in Tajikistan on hooliganism charges.
Like the other three men on Dushanbe’s extradition list, Abdulahad Nazarov is wanted for trial in Tajikistan on charges of being involved in terrorism and for fighting abroad as a mercenary.
His mother, Zubaida Ghiyosova, told RFE/RL that authorities have promised to pardon him upon his return to Tajikistan.
But officials in Dushanbe haven’t commented publicly about what future awaits him or the other wanted militants.
In 2014, Tajikistan announced a blanket amnesty for all Tajik citizens who returned from Syria and Iraq voluntarily and proved that they hadn’t been involved in fighting for IS.
Dozens took advantage of the amnesty and returned home to resume their lives.
Dushanbe has also already repatriated dozens of children of Tajik IS fighters since the collapse of the IS caliphate in 2019.
The government’s official line is that IS fighters or family members stranded abroad would create a security risk for Tajikistan in the long run.
Including women and children, some 2,000 citizens from Tajikistan have traveled to Syria and Iraq since 2014. An unknown number of them were killed in the fighting and airstrikes.