RFE Monday 25th January, 2016
Tajik authorities say up to 1,000 nationals have joined Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq, doubling the figure that officials previously provided.
Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda told reporters on January 25 that 61 Tajik nationals had returned from Syria and Iraq, while 148 had been killed in fighting there.
Earlier, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said 21 university students were among Tajiks who joined IS.
Rahmon said mosques and other religious institutions both at home and abroad play a role in recruiting people to extremist groups.
The interior minister also said Tajik Colonel Gulmurod Halimov, who had joined the IS extremist group last year, has since been seriously injured twice.
The minister claimed IS was now paying Halimov $100 a month as a "pension." That claim cannot be independently confirmed.
Halimov, the former commander of the Interior Ministry’s special forces, known as OMON, had confirmed in a YouTube video that he joined the militant group.
The interior minister said Tajik authorities were continuing efforts to capture Halimov.
Rahimzoda also sought to explain increased security measures in the Tajik capital over the weekend, saying "it was an ordinary drill."
Local residents said there was an increased police presence across Dushanbe and additional security checkpoints on highways leading to the capital.