KHUJAND, October 19, 2015, Asia-Plus -- A resident of Sughd province has got a long jail term for fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Syria.

The Sughd regional court sentenced the 29-year-old resident of the Spitamen district, A.U., to 16 years in prison on October 18, an official source at the Sughd regional court told Asia-Plus in an interview.

The sentence reportedly followed his conviction on the charges of organizing criminal group (Article 187 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code) and illegal involvement of Tajik nationals and stateless persons permanently living in Tajikistan in foreign armed conflicts (Article 401’).  He will serve his term in a high-security penal colony.

A.U. reportedly traveled to Syria in 2013 and joined the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group.  He reportedly took a 15-day training course at a terrorist camp.  He then arrived in Moscow where he was engaged in collecting membership fees from members of this group, preparing documents for them and so forth, the source said.

According to him, A.U. was detained in January 2015 for illegally crossing into Ukraine and was extradited to Tajikistan.

The al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra , sometimes called al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant, is a  Sunni Islamic   jihadist  militia fighting against Syrian Government forces in the  Syrian Civil War , with the aim of establishing an Islamist state in the country.  It is the Syrian branch of  Al-Qaeda , and also operates in neighboring  Lebanon .

The group announced its formation on January 23, 2012.  In November 2012,  The Washington Post  described al-Nusra as the most successful arm of the  Free Syrian Army  (FSA).  Ten days later, the  United States  designated Jabhat al-Nusra as a foreign  terrorist organization , it has also been designated a terrorist organization by the  United Nations Security Council , France, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Turkey.

In early 2015, there were reports that Qatar and other Gulf states were trying to get al-Nusra to split away from al-Qaeda, after which they would support al-Nusra with money.  Western observers considered such a split unlikely, and in March 2015, al-Nusra’s leadership denied a break-up or that talks with Qatar had occurred.

As of 2015, al-Nusra cooperates with Islamist and jihadist rebel groups, and sometimes Free Syrian Army-aligned groups, against Syrian government forces.