ISIS Riot in Tajik Prison Leaves 32 Dead

On May 19th, a riot in Vahdat prison near Dushanbe, organized by convicted ISIS members left 29 prisoners and 3 security guards dead. The Tajik press service reported that a group of 30 people took three guards hostage, and then killed them, demanding to be released from prison.

Deputy Minister of Justice Mansurdzhon Umarov said that during the incident 29 prisoners were killed, eight of whom died at the hands of other prisoners.

The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan announced that the organizer of the riot was killed. They considered Bekhruz Gulmurod, the son of Gulmurod Halimov to have been the instigator. In addition, the official list of the dead was published on the ministry’s website.

Gulmurod Khalimov is a former Tajik special forces colonel involved with ISIS. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic claimed that Khalimov’s son led the murder of five prisoners. They were Said Kiyomiddin Gozi, Sattor Karimov (Mahsumi Sattor) and Saidmahdihon Sattorov (Shaikh Temur), who were serving their sentences in the prison.

The incident marked the second such incident in Tajikistan within 1 year. In November 2018, at least 25 inmates and two security officers have been killed after a riot broke out at a high-security prison. This time, the prison was in the northern city of Khujand.

The riot began after an ISIS member serving his sentence in the prison attacked a guard and managed to seize his assault rifle.

Hundreds of people from the former Soviet republic of 9 million are believed to have joined ISIS. Tajikistan has offered amnesty to those who quit ISIS and return home, provided they’ve committed no other crimes.

In May 2018, a prison riot organized by ISIS members left 5 guards and 1 prisoner dead in Indonesia.

These situations could have potentially been avoided.

Deputy Chairman of the Public Observation Commission of the City of Moscow, Eva Mercacheva, in an interview with Tsargrad, noted that in Russia they were aware of the risks associated with ISIS members serving their sentences in the same prison.

Measures to curb potential unrest were taken. Moreover, according to her, neighboring states are turning to Russia for advice on similar issues related to possible riots.

“We realized the risks and we were probably among the first and immediately took a number of measures that are preemptive. Today the situation is this: these people are in separate wards and are under special operational surveillance. In general, all of their contacts are under special control. These people aren’t allowed to have mobile phones. If their means of communications to other extremists are taken away, then they will be unable to act. There is an obvious effect from all these measures. I don’t recall ever talking about a convict killing someone or raising a serious riot.”

According to her, conventional criminals treat the ISIS members very poorly and attempt to put them under control, so that no incidents take place.

“I was once told by the criminal leaders I saw behind bars or “in the wild”, that such people being there actually puts them under threat. And they are very careful that they don’t recruit anybody. Therefore, it seems that today we have all the proactive measures, and therefore the situation is fairly stable and calm.”

According to Mercacheva, the tragedy that occurred should be a lesson, not only for Tajikistan but for other countries too, to take preventive measures so that such incidents are avoided.

An example are also China’s re-education camps in Xianjiang, a region that has been under threat of radical elements for a while. Despite MSM’s accusations, some sources note that this approach appears to be proving effective in de-radicalizing individuals and re-introducing them to society, so that they can speak the language, write and contribute.

Unsurprisingly, allowing radicalized militants to mingle together and communicate with the outside world via mobile phones, while keeping them imprisoned wouldn’t lead to de-radicalization.