Tajikistan Annuls Citizenship of Nationals who Joined ISIS

June 25, 2015  

The parliament of Tajikistan on Wednesday passed a law annulling the citizenship of nationals fighting abroad with organizations such as the radical Islamic State group (ISIS), AFP reported.

“People will automatically be stripped of their citizenship of the republic of Tajikistan if they fight in the ranks of terrorist groups and organizations abroad,” Zarif Alizoda, the central Asian country’s human rights ombudsman said in parliament.

MPs voted unanimously in favor of the bill.

More than 400 Tajiks have joined the brutal ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria, including a high profile defector that once headed the special forces unit of the interior ministry, according to AFP.

Many nationals are recruited to fight for the group in Russia, where over a million work as migrant laborers, Tajik security services said.

In May, Colonel Gulmurod Halimov, a former commander of the interior ministry’s special forces unit, shocked the country by announcing in a twelve-minute video clip appearing on YouTube that he had defected to ISIS as a result of perceived anti-Islamic policies in the tightly-controlled state.

He appeared again in a second online clip this month, threatening to decapitate his brother for publically asking him to return to his homeland and face punishment, according to AFP.

This week, photos surfaced on social media that appeared to show Halimov being treated for injuries.

Tajik security services did not comment on the photos.

Tajikistan, which is the most remittance-dependent country in the world according to the World Bank, declared ISIS a terrorist organization immediately after Halimov announced his defection.

It is one among many countries facing the problem of locals who leave their countries to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq and who are a threat to bring jihad back home.

European nationals who have returned to Europe after joining the jihadist cause in the Middle East have been implicated in several recent attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in January and an attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014.

A top EU official estimated recently that the number of Europeans fighting with jihadist groups in Syria could exceed 6,000.

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