On the first day of the High-Level International Conference on “International and Regional Border Security and Management Cooperation to Counter Terrorism and Prevent the Movement of Terrorists", which kicked off in Dushanbe on October 18, its participants expressed their concern for the security in the region and Tajikistan in particular.  

Speaking at the conference, Ruslan Mirzoyev, Director of the executive Committee of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), said on October 18 that the number of members of the Islamist groups gathered along Afghanistan’s common border with Tajikistan exceeds 13,500 people.  

“This is not counting the militants of the Islamic State terror group, the exact number of which is impossible to know,” Mrizoyev said.  

According to him, international terrorist organizations “try to keep their activity.”  “Experts note the attempts of these organizations to regroup their forces and increase their combat potential by recruiting new members.  These organizations are also looking for opportunities to commit high-profile terrorist attacks.” said RATS head.  “Therefore, it is important to prevent the recruitment of new members and establish the Psychological Center for Countering Extremism.”

He further noted that in 2021, 1,500 wanted persons were detained and more than 40 terrorist attacks were prevented in the SCO member nations.  Terrorism is increasingly acquiring the features of politicized criminal activity,” Mirzoyev concluded.  

He expressed the opinion that it is possible to defeat radicals only through prevention.

“The forced fight against terrorism is like mowing the lawn -- the more often you cut the thicker it grows,” RATS head stressed. 

Tajik chief prosecutor Yusuf Rahmon, delivering the statement at the conference, declared “the danger of breaking through the Afghan-Tajik border.”  

He noted that the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations continue scaling up their activities along the Afghan-Tajik border. 

“Central Asian nations’ borders need global protection against terrorism,” said Tajik chief prosecutor.  “Central Asia’s nations, especially Tajikistan having the longest common border with Afghanistan, remain the most vulnerable to terrorists.”  

The Agreement on the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure as a permanent SCO body was signed during a meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States on June 7, 2002, in St. Petersburg.  Since its establishment, the RATS has made a significant contribution to the development of the Organization and became its pillar and a coordinating center for combating terrorism, separatism and extremism at the regional and global levels.

The international influence of the RATS grows as years go by, and the organization becomes a worthy example of multilateral cooperation aimed at achieving significant success in the field of security.

During the evolvement of the RATS, the emphasis was on the development of the organizational and legal framework determining the principles and areas of cooperation, as well as ensuring the proper functioning of the working bodies of the RATS, namely the Council and the Executive Committee.