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'Tajik Terrorist Suspects' Detained In Northern Afghanistan

Tajik spokesman Davlat Nazriev
Tajik spokesman Davlat Nazriev
DUSHANBE -- The Tajik Foreign Ministry says it is investigating whether three men detained three days ago in Afghanistan on suspicion of terrorism are Tajik citizens, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Abdurahmon Haqtosh, the top security official in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz Province, which borders Tajikistan, said at a press conference on August 7 that four people were detained in Kunduz the previous day.

Three of the detainees claim to be Tajik citizens, while the fourth, their driver, is an Afghan.

Tajik Foreign Ministry spokesman Davlat Nazriev told RFE/RL today the Tajik consulate in Kunduz is trying to clarify the identity of the three men.

Haqtosh said that the detainees are members of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is led by Tohir Yuldash. He added that a laptop computer and false passports for various countries were confiscated from the men. He said the computer contained files detailing IMU activities in northern Afghanistan.

Haqtosh also told journalists that even though Yuldash's former driver said last summer that Yuldash had been killed in a missile strike, the detainees said he is living in the northern Pakistani region of Waziristan.

One detainee, who called himself Muhammadtohir, the son of a man in Dushanbe named Muhammadzohir, said at the press conference that the four had seen Yuldash in Pakistan speak about "the jihad against foreigners."

He said: "Seven or eight years ago I was in Pakistan. In Pakistan I studied at a madrasah. There they trained us and told us what we were meant to do -- wage jihad. [They told us]: 'You came here for the sake of jihad. Jihad against foreigners.'"

Haqtosh said two of the three detainees who claim to be citizens of Tajikistan had Afghan documents. The third reputed Tajik citizen, who called himself Muhammadnaim, said he is a cameraman sent by Yuldash to northern Afghanistan to teach others how to photograph.

Haqtosh said the small group was responsible for an attack on a security post in the Sanduqsoy district of Kunduz in which two security officials were killed.

The IMU was founded in the early 1990s in the Andijon and Namangon regions of Uzbekistan, but soon extended its activities to other countries. Its members fought against what would become the current Tajik government on the side of the mostly Islamist opposition in the Tajik civil war.

The IMU members sought refuge in Afghanistan following the1997 Tajik peace agreement. Many of them were killed or captured during the anti-Taliban surge in late 2001, while others fled to northern Pakistan.

Intelligence officials said the detainees were trained in the Haqqani madrasah in Peshawar. They said that a person called Haqqani from the Afghan province of Baghlan was their leader. They suggested that Yuldash's supporters in Baghlan could include as many as 30 to 40 Tajik citizens.

Haqtosh said a detailed interrogation of the three detained Tajiks could yield a clearer understanding of the numbers and activities of extremists from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan who are fighting against the Kabul government in northern Afghanistan.