A resident of the northern Sughd province have been jailed for membership in the banned Islamic group Jamaat Ansarullah, which the government has classified as extremist.

A court in the northern city of Isfara sentenced local resident Jamoliddin Nizomaddinov, 27, to five years in prison at the end of last week. 

The sentence followed his conviction on charges of organizing an activity of an extremist group (Article 307 of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).  Nizomaddinov will serve his term in a high-security penal colony.

A source at the Isfara city court says Nizomaddinov voluntarily joined Jamaat Ansarullah in 2011 in the Russian Federation where he was working as labor migrant.

Nizomaddinov was reportedly detained by officers from the organized crime control unit at the Interior Ministry’s office for Sughd on August 28, 2017.      

Tajik law enforcement authorities say Jamaat Ansarullah is a branch of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and financed by Al-Qaeda, an international terrorist network.

Jamaat Ansarullah, also known as the Society of Allah’s Soldiers, first came to light in September 2010 when the heretofore unknown organization claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on September 3 in Khujand.  An explosives-packed car rammed into the building of the Sughd regional organized crime control department, killing two officers and two civilians and wounding 28 people.  The suicide bomber was local resident Akmal Karimov, who was reportedly trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In September 2011, Jamaat Ansarullah issued several videos calling on Tajikistan’s citizens to embrace jihad against “infidels” and urging them to take action to support the implementation of Islamic Sharia law.  “Those who pray namaz, who follow fasting rules but support democracy are nonbelievers,” a man on the video said. “Allah is killing nonbelievers by our hands and, thus, blesses us.”  Some politicians and experts, however, doubt whether these videos can really be traced back to Jamaat Ansarullah.

In May 2012, Tajikistan’s Supreme Court officially banned Jamaat Ansarullah as extremist on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office. 

The deputy head of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS), Mansour Umarov, told parliament on February 4, 2016 that Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had transferred one of the leaders of Jamaat Ansarullah, Tajik national Qamariddin Ahrorov, to Tajik authorities.