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In South Tajikistan, Family Awaits News Of Sons Fighting In Syria

Three of Olimmurod Abdurahmonov's sons have joined fighters in Syria.
Three of Olimmurod Abdurahmonov's sons have joined fighters in Syria.

In 2013, Olimmurod Abdurahmonov's eldest son, 27-year-old Fayziddin, took his wife and three children and went to fight in Syria.

The last time Abdurahmonov heard from his eldest son was when Fayziddin called him and said he was in an airport in Turkey. When Abdurakhmonov tried calling his son back, Fayziddin was furious and demanded that his father not telephone again.

The father of three from Tajikistan's southern Rumi District told RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Radio Ozodi, on February 12 that a few months later, Fayziddin's youngest brother -- Bahromjon, aged just 18 -- followed him to the Middle East. The family does not know exactly when the middle brother, Muhammadrasul, joined his two siblings in Syria.

Tajikistan's security services have informed Abdurahmonov that his eldest son, Fayziddin, has been killed in the fighting. No one knows what happened to Fayziddin's wife and children.

About the fate of his other sons, Bahromdjon and Muhammadrasul, the father of three also has no idea.

Middle brother Muhammadrasul had been to Syria before, in 2010, in order to study. However, he had returned home, where he completed the third year of studies at the Islamic University of Tajikistan. The other two brothers only have high-school educations, Abdurahmonov said.

'No Accurate Information'

There is "no accurate information" about the brothers' fates, Mairambi Gafforov told Radio Ozodi.

"The district police department is dealing with this issue. The mother of these young men asked the state agencies to help return her children," Gafforov said.

The three brothers had been registered as migrant laborers, according to Zafar Khushbatov, the chairman of the local jamoat, or municipality, in the village of Madaniyat in Rumi district.

"We were not aware of the real situation. Later on, the security authorities called us in and told us that the three brothers had gone to the "jihad" in Syria," Khushbatov told Radio Ozodi.

According to official figures cited by Radio Ozodi, there are 300 Tajik nationals fighting in Syria. According to Edward Lemon from the U.K.'s University of Exeter, who tracks Tajik fighters in Syria, there is online evidence of 67 militants, though there are likely to be more unreported Tajiks in Syria.

Tajikistan's Foreign Ministry has said that it will provide assistance to Tajiks who wish to return home from Syria, via the country's consulates in Arab states or Turkey.

Tajiks who return from Syria voluntarily and express remorse are exempt from punishment under Article 187 of Tajikistan's Penal Code, according to Vosi Salimzoda of the Serious Crimes Unit of the Khatlon region's prosecutor's office.

Salimzoda told Radio Ozodi that four Tajik men have returned voluntarily from the fighting in Syria and were not subjected to criminal proceedings.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world.


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