Daesh recruit says many foreign fighters jailed or killed

Abdul Ahad Rustam Nazarov, 28, a Tajik man who joined Daesh, talks during an interview with Reuters, in the town of Rmeilan, Hasaka province, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 11 April 2019

Daesh recruit says many foreign fighters jailed or killed

  • “I was jailed three times for trying to leave,” he said
  • He said most foreign men who traveled to Syria were immediately taken to Mosul in Iraq for military training

RMEILAN, Syria: A Tajik man who joined Daesh said many foreigners who enlisted in its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria were jailed or killed for trying to leave.
The 28-year-old, who once drove a taxi in Moscow, said he handed himself over to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed group, from Daesh’s last holdout of Baghouz in eastern Syria last month after years of trying to escape.
SDF officials monitored and recorded a Reuters interview with the man, Abdul Ahad Rustam Nazarov, at an SDF center in Rmeilan in Syria. Reuters could not verify his account.
Tajikistan has offered amnesty to those who quit Daesh and return home, provided they’ve committed no other crimes.
Nazarov says he never fought for Daesh. Parts of his account about his life were inconsistent, although other parts matched what others have said about Daesh, including its strict judicial system and its eventual defeat.
“I was jailed three times for trying to leave,” Nazarov said. “I wanted to come and see Islamic State for myself ... and to help those being oppressed by the Syrian government.
“But I didn’t want to make a pledge of allegiance to the caliphate.”
Nazarov said most foreign men who traveled to Syria were immediately taken to Mosul in Iraq for military training.
Some refused and were punished, he said, describing a special Daesh judicial section that dealt with those trying to flee or refusing to pledge allegiance.
“Some friends were executed ... because they were not ready to commit to IS,” he said.
Escape attempts
Nazarov said he tried more than once to escape to Turkey across the Syrian border. He said he made contact with authorities in Tajikistan to arrange for his own surrender. Tajik interior ministry and state security officials, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to comment, said neither body had received requests from Nazarov.
Thousands of men from Central Asian are estimated to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State since 2014, when it declared its caliphate.
The Sunni militant group was driven from all territory it controlled in Iraq in 2017 and from its final redoubt of Baghouz in eastern Syria last month.
Some foreigners including Central Asians surrendered but most were killed, Nazarov said.
“There were experienced snipers in IS ranks who were from Chechnya. Most of them died in battle, especially in Mosul, Baiji and Raqqa,” he said.
Nazarov said Daesh militants tried to stop men surrendering to the SDF in Baghouz, locking them in cars and firing at them when they eventually fled.
The US-backed campaign to drive Daesh out of Iraq and Syria involved tough battles with hardened militants, especially in Mosul and Raqqa.
Nazarov said he once met Gulmurod Khalimov, a Tajik military commander who joined Daesh, in an Internet cafe in Mosul frequented by militants. He belives Khalimov was killed fighting.
Nazarov said he wanted to be reunited with his pregnant wife, a Chechen now in Al-Hol camp in Syria, where 60,000 people who fled Baghouz live. “My other two children starved in Baghouz,” he said.


Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

Updated 23 February 2020

Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

  • Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it
  • The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India

NEW DELHI: Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in India’s capital of New Delhi on Sunday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The Indian law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180 million Muslims.
On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.