More Than 30 Pardoned Tajiks Believed To Have Rejoined IS

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More than 30 alleged militants who were pardoned by Tajik authorities after returning home from Iraq and Syria have gone back to the region to rejoin the extremist group Islamic State (IS), police say.

Qudratullo Nazarzoda, the regional police chief of the northern province of Sughd, told reporters on February 2 that 34 people from Soghd who had returned to Tajikistan after joining IS in the Middle East have gone back to Iraq and Syria.

We helped 72 people to return home to Sughd. Out of the 72 former fighters, 34 have gone back to those countries, Nazarzoda said. Others resumed normal, civilian life.

Nazarzoda said that Sughd authorities pardoned all but one of those who voluntarily left Iraq and Syria. He said that the authorities are investigating one man they believe sought to recruit fighters for IS upon his return.

Tajikistan amended its criminal laws in 2015 to allow authorities to pardon citizens who voluntarily return home and express regret that they joined militant groups abroad.

Dozens have been pardoned under the amnesty, which authorities say only applies to those who have not taken part in violence.

The Tajik Interior Ministry says that at least 1,100 Tajik nationals have gone to Iraq and Syria. Some 300 of them have been killed in fighting there while about 100 have returned home since 2015, it says.

More than half of those who returned to Tajikistan have been pardoned, while others were convicted of being mercenaries.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.