32 Killed After ISIS Prisoners Allegedly Instigate Riot in Tajikistan

By Victor Westerkamp

Members of the ISIS terrorist group instigated a prison riot that caused the deaths of 29 inmates and three guards in Tajikistan on Sunday, May 19, the Tajik Ministry of Justice said in a statement.

The Ministry pinned ISIS prisoners as the driving force behind the unrest, where five fellow inmates were killed and 24 others were “liquidated” during the authorities’ “measures to quell” the riot at around 9:30 pm at Kirpichniy prison, in the Vakhdat area, some 10 miles east of the capital Dushanbe, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported.

“In order to intimidate the other prisoners, the Islamic State members executed five people, and ten others were savagely beaten,” the Tajik Justice Ministry said in the statement obtained by Eurasianet. After that, the militants set the jail’s medical facilities on fire, took several inmates hostage, and tried to fight their way out.

Officials named Behruz Gulmorod amongst the ISIS members that have been killed. Gulmorod reportedly was responsible for instigating the uproar. Gulmorod is the son of high-ranking ISIS commander Gulmorod Khalimov, a Tajik special forces colonel who defected to ISIS in 2015 and who is known to have been engaged in combat in Syria.

President Emomali Rahmon is the longest-serving leader in the former Soviet republic and has ruled Tajikistan since 1992.

Rahmon has used security forces and other means of power to suppress dissent and opponents, including members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, or IRPT, according to rights groups.

The IRPT has been an influential party with representatives in the government and parliament, but it was deemed a terrorist group and forbidden since 2015.

Officials said they also identified three high-ranking IRPT officials among the dead in the prion riot: Fakhriddin Gulov, Said Kiemitdin Gozi, and Abduusattor Karimov.

IRPT has denied the use of terror attacks as a means to achieve its objectives, yet Rahmon has tried to link them several times to ISIS and other terrorist groups. In the stiffly-controlled country, it’s impossible to verify the authorities’ claims independently.

When four foreign cyclists died in an attack as in July 2018, officials blamed IRPT for the assault, according to Eurasianet. However, days later ISIS claimed responsibility, and the government did not retract its accusations.

The prison uproar was the second of its kind in six months, as another riot appeared in November 2018 in a maximum-security prison in the northern city of Khujand, where 21 prisoners and two prison guards were killed, according to officials. An ISIS related website asserted that one of its “fighters” was responsible for starting that uprising.

As of the publication of this article, ISIS is yet to take the blame for the latest upheaval in the Kirpichniy prison.