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Tajik IS Militant In Syria: 'We'll Convert Native Americans To Islam And Build Them Mosques'

A screen capture from a video of purported Tajik Islamic State militant Abu Kholidi Kulobi. The video appeared online in August 2014.
A screen capture from a video of purported Tajik Islamic State militant Abu Kholidi Kulobi. The video appeared online in August 2014.

A Tajik militant claiming to be fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria has told RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Radio Ozodi, that his goal is to introduce Shari'a law throughout the world, including among Native Americans.

The 38-year-old militant, who gave his name as Nusrat Nazarov, also goes under several other names including Makhsumi Nurat and Abu Kholidi Kulobi. A video of a Tajik militant named Abu Kholidi Kulobi appeared online in August.

Nazarov says that he is from the village of Charmgaron in the Kulob district of Tajikistan and that he went to Syria two years ago and now lives in a suburb of Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in Syria.

According to Nazarov, he had been living and working in Moscow before coming to Syria via Turkey.

"This is not the only route. There are dozens of other ways for our brothers to unite with us. If Turkey closes the route, then there is Yemen and other states," Nazarov said.

According to Nazarov, he originally fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

"After I learned about their cooperation with the West, I quit their ranks," Nazarov said.

Devotion, Not Dollars

Nazarov emphasized that he had held "jihadist intentions" since the early 1990s and that he had studied the basics of Islam since he was a child.

According to Nazarov, during the early 1990s he took part in religious preaching in the main square of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

"I wasn't forced to come here. I came as a devout Muslim. I came for faith, not for cash," Nazarov said of his decision to come to Syria, refuting allegations that he had done so to make money.

Nazarov told Radio Ozodi that there are as many as 2,000 Tajiks fighting in IS and that around 500 had been killed.

"Here you see people and you feel like you're in Tajikistan. If things go on the way they have been doing in Tajikistan, there won't be anyone left, they will all come here," Nazarov said.

However, these figures are almost certainly hyperbole. While it is not known exactly how many Tajik nationals are fighting in Syria, the State Committee for the National Security of Tajikistan said in November that as many as 300 Tajiks have gone to join the fighting.

According to Edward Lemon from the UK's University of Exeter, who researches and tracks Tajik militants in Iraq and Syria, there are over 60 documented Tajiks in Syria.

Spreading Shari'a -- Even To Native Americans

Nazarov said that IS planned to spread Shari'a law around the world and subjugate the global population to the "caliphate" (the name given by IS to the areas under its control.)

"Even the [Native Americans] will have to live under Shari'a. We will take them tubeteikas [Central Asian caps, worn in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan], we will build mosques for them, and we will live with them according to the laws of Allah," Nazarov said.

The Tajik militant, however, threatened to kill Tajik religious figures who had spoken out against Tajik nationals traveling to Syria to wage jihad.

Despite his threats, however, Nazarov insisted that he wanted to "spread Shari'a law in Tajikistan without war."

'I Begged My Wife To Join Me, But She Refused'

Nazarov said that he had begged his wife to join him in Syria, but she would not come.

The Tajik militant also commented on a video message made by his brother, Khairollo Nazarov, who asked him to come home.

"I heard his words. The words that he said are those of the government. They'd better not blackmail my wife, because that will lead to not very good consequences for officials in Tajikistan," Nazarov said.

The Tajik militant told Radio Ozodi that his family in Tajikistan is under "constant pressure" to bring him back to his homeland.

'I'll Kill You All'

Earlier this month, a Tajik journalist reported that he had received threats from Nazarov.

Ibrokhim Ahmad, the chief editor of the independent newspaper Pajk, which is distributed mainly in the south of Tajikistan, said that on the evening of January 6 he had received a telephone call from a man calling himself "Makhsum Musrat" -- also known as Nazarov -- who said he was fighting with IS in Syria.

The militant said he was not happy with certain materials that had been published in Pajk, which he said "denigrated the mujahedin [militants]."

Nazarov then threatened to avenge himself against the reporters who had published the materials.

"He demanded that we refrain from publishing anything that vilified the mujahideen. He was unhappy about the fact that we had published his photo. He also said that if we continue to publish such material, he has people in Tajikistan whom he has tasked to kill the journalists who wrote this material," Ahmad said.

Nazarov's brother Khairollo said that the threats should not be taken seriously.

"He hasn't got people in Kulob. The only person he has is me, his brother. I've been driving taxis for 20 years, I pray, and I don't have any complaints against anyone. I'm also looking after his three kids. Can a normal person ditch his children and go to fight?!" Khairollo said.

-- 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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