A Salafi leader in Tajikistan has apparently written a scathing article condemning the Islamic State group as the "house of Satan" and its leader a "puppet" of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Radio Ozodi, has reported.
Muhammad Rakhmullato, known as Mullah Muhammadi in Tajikistan, is the head of Salafyiyyah, an unregistered religious group in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, and was educated at a Pakistani madrassah. The article attributed to him, which is titled The Price Of A Mujahid [Islamist fighter] Is $70,000!, was published this week on the website of Tajikistan's Farazh newspaper.
In the article, Rakhmullato says that the Islamic State group is a "Khawarij movement," a reference to a term describing Muslims who rejected the authority of the Islamic prophet Mohammad's son-in-law Ali. The Tajik Salafi leader also accused Israel of paying tens of thousands of dollars for every militant recruited by the Islamic State group.
In his article, Rakhmullato said that Tajik youths who join what he said are "terrorist groups" -- like the Islamic State group, Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the outlawed Tajik Islamist movement Jamaat Ansarullah -- are no longer Muslims.
Rakhmullato went on to criticize the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
"Baghdadi, who declared himself to be the Amir Al-Mu'minin ["Commander of the Faithful," an Islamic title used by a caliph, a political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad] is actually a product of Israel and a puppet of that country's secret service, the Mossad," Rakhmullato claimed.
According to Rakhmullato, Islamic State recruiters receive a sum of $70,000 from the "real organizers" of the extremist group.
The Salafi leader said that the "illiterate Muslims" who ended up in the "networks of these human traffickers and vile murderers do not know about the filthy plots of these traitors and extremists."
Tajiks in Syria
According to official figures cited by Radio Ozodi, there are 300 citizens from Tajikistan -- Central Asia's poorest country -- 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 the war-torn country.
Radio Ozodi also reported that last week, four Tajik militants were reported as having been killed fighting alongside the Islamic State group in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
One of the militants was discovered by Radio Ozodi correspondent Mumin Ahmadi to be Alan Chikranov, the three-time Tajik mixed martial arts (MMA) champion. Chikranov was born in the Khatlon region in southwest Tajikistan to a Tajik father and Ossetian mother, and studied at the Russian-Tajik Slavic University in Dushanbe.
In December, Tajik prosecutors said that they had arrested 46 young men on suspicion of planning to join Islamist fighters in Syria. The men, aged between 20 and 30, were from Sughd Province and were charged with "organizing a criminal group for participating in armed conflicts or warfare in other countries."
Tajikistan has arrested scores of people on suspicion of extremist activities in recent months.
-- Joanna Parasczuk