Overview: Severe weaknesses were exposed in Tajikistan's counterterrorism strategy and its ability to conduct effective counterterrorism operations. Events in the Rasht Valley demonstrated that Tajikistan was vulnerable to an organized insurgency by well-trained and motivated terrorists, both foreign and domestic. The inability of the Government of Tajikistan to police its border with Afghanistan and deal decisively with attacks against government forces emboldened its domestic and foreign enemies. Terrorists, criminals, and fighters of varied allegiances effectively exploited Tajikistan's mountainous terrain and domestic political rivalries.
Tajikistan's counterterrorism policies were focused mainly on controlling Islam in society and increasing the capacity of Tajikistan's military and law enforcement community to conduct tactical operations. The latter was undertaken with support from bilateral assistance programs with the international community. While the government maintained a list of banned groups it considers "extremist", the list included several religious groups – including Jehovah's Witnesses; Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary organization; and the Salafiya sect – that the government banned despite a lack of any evidence that members engaged in violent extremist activities.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: On September 22, 23 soldiers were killed when militants in the Kamarob Valley (an opposition stronghold just outside of Gharm in the Rasht Valley) ambushed a military convoy. The Ministry of Defense reported that former opposition commanders Mullo Abdullo Rahimov and Ali Bedaki Davlatov led the attack with a contingent of foreign and Tajik fighters that had slipped into Tajikistan from Afghanistan.
On September 3, a Vehicle Born Improvised Implosive Device (VBIED) detonated on the compound of the Regional Department for Combating Organized Crime (UBOP) in the northern city of Khujand, killing two officers and injuring 26 others as they gathered for morning formation. This was the first VBIED attack in Tajikistan since at least the end of the civil war. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the VBIED was detonated by a suicide bomber with possible links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The previously unknown group "Jamatt Ansarullah in Tajikistan" later claimed responsibility. Many speculated that the attack was an act of revenge against UBOP by a local group for the alleged death of a young man in its custody. The driver was reportedly the deceased man's brother. UBOP is notorious for its abusive interrogation methods. Government security operations in the northern Sughd region against suspected IMU members continued throughout the year.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Government of Tajikistan used counterterrorism statutes to suppress legitimate political opposition and dissent as well as to prosecute terrorists. Unfortunately, the judicial system in Tajikistan was also plagued by endemic corruption.
An August 23 prison break by suspected insurgents from the Rasht Valley resulted in the death of six police officers and sparked a months-long manhunt. As 2010 drew to a close, more than half of the prisoners had been recaptured or killed. Some were recaptured in Afghanistan with the assistance of Afghan security forces.
Effectively policing the rugged and remote Tajik/Afghan border is a daunting task and the Government of Tajikistan has made progress in improving border security by leveraging bilateral assistance.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Terrorist financing and money laundering were illegal, but existing laws were not comprehensive and did not meet international standards. Despite pressure from the international community, Tajikistan has not taken action to modernize its money laundering criminal code.
Regional and International Cooperation: In September, Tajikistan participated in regional counterterrorism exercises with Shanghai Cooperation Organization partner nations.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Many of the government's measures to counter extremism and radicalization restricted religious freedom. Various initiatives have been undertaken, such as banning the hijab in schools and a recent draft law prohibiting minors from attending mosques. Rather than specifically addressing radicalization and violent extremism, the government sought to marginalize Islam as a whole. Critics claimed that heavy-handed government tactics actually contributed to radicalization rather than deterred it.