Four inmates of Khujand-based penal colony 3/5 have got additional lengthy jail terms for creating a cell of the banned Islamic extremist group, Jamaat Ansarullah, in the penal colony.  

Judge at the Khujand city court Maroufjon Rustamzoda, who presided over the trial, says the 25-year-old resident of Istaravshan Nozim Qurbonov, the 34-year-old resident of Spitamen district Sharaf Halimov, the 30-year-old resident of Spitamen district Ilhom Mahmadjonov and the 28-year-old resident of Istaravshan Homid Vositaliyev have been found guilty of creating a cell of Jamaat Ansarullah in the penal colony.

Criminal proceedings have reportedly been instituted against them under the provisions of two articles of Tajikistan’s Penal Code: Article 187 – creating criminal group; and Article 307 – participating in political parties, public or religious associations that were banned in Tajikistan for carrying out extremist activities.

The court sentenced Nozim Qurbonov to additional twenty-two years in prison, while Mahmadjonov, Halimov and Vositaliyev got additional jail term of twenty years each.

According to Rustamzoda, they were serving their terms in the penal colony for the same crime.   

Jamaat Ansarullah, also known as the Society of Allah’s Soldiers, first came to light in September 2010 when the heretofore unknown organization claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on September 3 in Khujand.  An explosives-packed car rammed into the building of the organized crime control department of the regional police, killing two officers and two civilians and wounding 28 people.  The suicide bomber was local resident Akmal Karimov, trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

In September 2011, Jamaat Ansarullah issued several videos calling on Tajikistan’s citizens to embrace jihad against “infidels” and urging them to take action to support the implementation of Islamic Sharia law.  “Those who pray namaz, who follow fasting rules but support democracy are nonbelievers,” a man on the video said. “Allah is killing nonbelievers by our hands and, thus, blesses us.”  Some politicians and experts, however, doubt whether these videos can really be traced back to Jamaat Ansarullah.

In May 2012, Tajikistan’s Supreme Court officially banned Jamaat Ansarullah as extremist on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.