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Tajik Prosecutor Warns Of Foreign-Guided Extremists


October 2, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A senior official in Tajikistan's eastern Badakhshan Province has warned that locals who have graduated from foreign Islamic madrasahs and other schools are involved in extremist activities in the country.


Badakhshan chief prosecutor Rashid Gulmatshoev said today that young Tajik refugees were recruited by "foreign radical groups" and became involved in extremist activities after their return to Tajikistan in the late 1990s.


"For instance, in the Vanj region, Yazgulom Valley, and other areas some people had started promoting certain religious teachings that were foreign to us," he said. "Some people in Yazgulom Valley were involved in terrorist activities, and these are people who had been to Islamic schools abroad."


Gulmatshoev estimated that Badakhshan has about 300 young graduates of Islamic schools abroad, including in Iran and Pakistan.


He told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that most of those young men left Tajikistan at an early age, in many cases with their families during Tajikistan's 1992-97 civil war.


Gulmatshoev also criticized what Tajik officials complain is a growing number of unregistered mosques in the region. He said that while each neighborhood in the Vanj district has a local place of worship, so far just one imam has officially registered his mosque under a recent official push to bring such facilities onto the books.


Islamic groups have come under increasing scrutiny in Tajikistan this year.


At a regional meeting in Bishkek in June, Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloev warned that the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan posed new threats to regional stability.


In July, Dushanbe prosecutors asked authorities to include the banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir on an official list of terrorist organizations.


In August, authorities in Vanj district outlawed the activities of the so-called Mavlavi Islamic group, accusing it of initiating unsanctioned public gatherings. Officials said the Mavlavi group was set up by young men who had undergone religious training in Iran and Pakistan.

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