Training of “Tajik Taliban” suicide bombers shows threat to Central Asia from Afghanistan is growing, say analysts

Training of “Tajik Taliban” suicide bombers shows threat to Central Asia from Afghanistan is growing, say analysts
A video posted on social media by Jamaat Ansarullah commander Mahdi Arsalon is said to show "Tajik Taliban" fighters operating near Afghanistan's border with Tajikistan. / social media, screenshot
By bne IntelIiNews November 30, 2023

The threat from groups in Afghanistan to the countries of Central Asia, and primarily to Tajikistan, is growing, according to analysts cited by an article that looked at the questionable capabilities of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

The November 30 report by Asia-Plus referenced repeated warnings from Andrei Serenko, director of the Analytical Centre of the Russian Society of Political Scientists and head of the Centre for the Study of Afghan Politics. Serenko recently cautioned on his Telegram channel—while relaying information provided by his sources in Afghanistan—that the Jamaat Ansarullah movement (also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Tajikistan, or TTT, or the “Tajik Taliban”), has started training suicide bombers. 

Jamaat Ansarullah, consisting mainly of people from Tajikistan, is based in the Afghan province of Badakhshan, bordering Tajikistan. In the past six months, according to Serenko, it has significantly expanded its ranks.

“If earlier the number of militants in this group was in the dozens, now it is in the hundreds,” wrote Serenko, quoting a source as saying: “Jamaat Ansarullah was able to solve problems with its financing, as well as with weapons—its militants gained access to modern American and Nato weapons, which were left in Afghanistan in August 2021 [when the US and its allies made their final exit from Afghanistan].”

The source was also cited by Serenko as saying that the group’s suicide bombers are mainly from Tajikistan and other post-Soviet countries and that their training takes place in a special madrassa located in Nusay district (Darwaz-i-Bala) of Badakhshan province. 

November 30 also brought a report from the Independent that focused on a claim from a former Afghan spy chief that the Taliban regime now ruling Afghanistan is exploring options to obtain tactical nuclear weapons.

Asia-Plus’ report also referred to recent remarks by the director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, who stated that “a “belt of instability” is being created on the “southern borders of the CIS”. 

Bortnikov claimed militants were being recruited from international terrorist organisations operating in Iraq, Syria and a number of other Asian and African countries, and were being transferred to northern Afghanistan. 

As an example of the growing problem, Bortnikov pointed to the number of Vilayat Khorasan militants, saying it had reached 6,500. 

Such terrorist organisations openly plan to unite disparate groups and expand into neighbouring countries, primarily in Central Asia, and Russia, he said.  

“The terrorists’ priority goal is to seize power in the countries of Central Asia, primarily in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and include them in the so-called global caliphate,” he added, alleging that “this is being done with the active participation of American and British intelligence services.”