Germany charges seven Central Asians with forming terror group

Germany charges seven Central Asians with forming terror group
One of the suspects rounded up by Russian authorities following the terrorist attack in outer Moscow in March. / Russian state media, screenshot
By bne IntelliNews April 25, 2024

The German Federal Prosecutor's Office has charged seven men from Central Asia—five from Tajikistan, one from Turkmenistan and one from Kyrgyzstan—with assembling a domestic terrorist group and participating in its activities.

Six of the men are suspected of financially supporting the "foreign terrorist organisation Islamic State", it added in an April 24 statement.

The radicalisation of Tajik nationals who then go on to commit terrorist attacks on behalf of Islamist fundamentalist groups is a mounting headache for Tajikistan’s Rahmon regime. Things came to a head last month with the Crocus City Hall terrorist atrocity in outer Moscow that left at least 144 people dead and led to the charging by Russian authorities of four alleged Tajik gunmen. But even before that, as columnist Bruce Pannier wrote for bne IntelliNews in January, the rising prominence of Tajiks in terrorist attacks abroad was causing analysts to ask whether the injustice and corruption of the authoritarian Rahmon administration was causing a loss of hope at home that was driving Tajiks into the arms of terrorist outfits.

The detainees charged in Germany were described by the statement to have been in contact with Islamic State affiliate Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP, IS-KP or ISIS-K), the Afghanistan-based group that claimed responsibility for the Crocus City Hall atrocity.

Though Tajikistan has a particular problem with citizens joining terrorist ranks, experts have concluded that fellow Central Asian nations Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan also have major difficulties in this area.

The Tajik regime is struggling to convince the world that it can contain its difficulties with its citizens joining terrorist groups, while in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan security work aimed at tracking down radicalised individuals who could be, or could become, involved with terrorists have been stepped up.

Giving more details on the suspects, the German prosecutor’s office said that they have known each for a long period of time and arrived from Ukraine shortly after Russia launched its invasion of the country in February 2022.

The seven men—said by investigators to have studied buildings they were going to attack over a long period o of time—have been under arrest since July last year. They were arrested in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany.