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Tajikistan Sentences 13 Members Of Banned Islamic Group

DUSHANBE -- A Tajik court has sent to prison 13 members of a banned Islamic group for recruiting residents of the northern province of Sughd to fight alongside militants in Syria.

The Supreme Court said on February 17 that the 13, aged between 26 and 42, were sentenced to prison terms between 9 and 12 years.

The men were arrested in November and charged with organizing a criminal group, illegal weapons possession, and membership in an extremist organization, known as Jamaat Ansarullah.

Investigators believe Jamaat Ansarullah is a branch of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The IMU, which is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations and banned in Central Asian countries and Russia.

It is believed to have links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.