An article posted on Eurasianet’s website on June 13 notes that Tajik-speaking Islamic State recruiters say they are fundraising on a Russian payment platform.

“Tajik Islamic State Network Fundraises in Russia” says a new Telegram group called “Devotion and Loyalty” is raising money for Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and the families of militants languishing in Iraqi and Syrian detention camps.  Members reportedly use the financial services provider QIWI to make the transfers, according to images of receipts they post online.

Several thousand Central Asians joined IS and allied militants in the mid-2010s, traveling to the group’s stronghold in Syria and Iraq.  A sizable portion of this group was recruited among migrant laborers in Russia; some brought their families and later had children in the group’s so-called caliphate.

After the caliphate was rolled back in 2016-17, women and children were sent to prisons and refugee camps like Al-Hol and Roj in northern Syria.  Today thousands of these civilians are being held in these camps.  Many are from countries like Tajikistan that are making halting progress returning their nationals.  Radio Ozodi estimated in April that some 600 Tajiks remain in the camps.

Devotion and Loyalty, which appeared last month, is closely affiliated with other Tajik-speaking Islamic State channels.  It shares an administrator (“Mawlawii55”) with the ISKP-linked Sadoi Khuroson and Radioi Sadoi Khuroson Telegram channels.  Mawlawii55 also is closely involved with a parallel channel, Protectors of the Ummat that recruits for ISIS-K.

Devotion and Loyalty administrators also run a connected Telegram chat.  Thus, an April 25 post, in particular, urged supporters to donate specific amounts earmarked for items to support ISIS-K’s campaign in Afghanistan.  For example, $500 could be donated for aqiqah – the ritual slaughter of an animal such as a sheep or goat to feed the poor – to mark an occasion such as a child’s birth.

The post also recommends $2,000 for zakat, an annual charity payment made by able Muslims based on Islamic jurisprudence; $200 for zakat al-fitr to help the poor at the end of Ramadan; 3,850 British pounds for a religious school.

Though the amounts transferred so far are small, the payments represent a foundation for fundraising activities that will be difficult to uproot.

Even if Telegram bans the Devotion and Loyalty channel, as it often does when it discovers a channel violating its terms of service on spreading terrorist propaganda, it is playing a game of whack-a-mole. Channels rapidly proliferate on the decentralized and anonymous network; invitations to a new channel will quickly and efficiently pass among supporters who routinely create new channels in preparation for the next ban.

Other channels that have been banned, such as those that translate official IS media into Tajik, have shown this network capacity.

Though Devotion and Loyalty has not specifically sought funds to attack Tajikistan, it is logical to assume the network could leverage its reach, and intense hostility for the current government of Tajikistan.