Taliban-inked media outlet Al-Mersaad has released interviews of two Tajik nationals who are apparently being held in a Taliban prison.

They claim they were recruited by the Is State-Khorasan Province (IS-K) while they were residing in Russia and planned to go to Pakistan for training but were apprehended by Taliban before that.

A report posted by Al-Mersaad on its X account (formerly known as Twitter) says, “Al-Mersaad has obtained access to video confessions of two Tajik nationals presently detained in the prison of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.  Within their confessions, they have disclosed that they are citizens of Tajikistan who had been recruited.”

The detainees are the 21-year-old resident of the city of Kulob in Khatlon province Aminjon Fayzov and the 21-year-old resident of Vose district in Khatlon province Sirojiddin Davlatov. 

Fayzov says he was recruited by IS-K in Russia’s Vladimir oblast.  

Sirojiddin Davlatov says he was recruited by IS-K through Telegram-channel.  

The Tajikistan authorities have not yet commented on this case.

Recall, Eursianet reported in January this year that Al-Mersaad, while discussing IS-K’s interest in recruiting Tajiks, has accused Tajikistan of becoming “a new hub for [IS-K] production,” adding that this “poses a significant threat to the security and stability of the region and the world” and “many of its citizens have been involved in attacks in Afghanistan, Iran, and [elsewhere].”

The Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-K), or Daesh–Khorasan, is an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group active in South Asia and Central Asia. The group has been active in Afghanistan and its area of operations includes Pakistan, Tajikistan and India where they claimed attacks, as well as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and China where individuals have pledged allegiance to it.  The ISIS-K and Taliban consider each other enemies.

The group was created in January 2015 by disaffected Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, although its membership includes individuals from various countries notably Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar.  Its initial leaders, Hafiz Saeed Khan and Abdul Rauf Aliza, were killed by US forces in July 2016 and February 2015, respectively.  Subsequent leaders have also been killed; its leader Abdullah Orokzai was captured in April 2020 by Afghanistan's intelligence service.

IS-K has conducted numerous high-profile attacks against civilians mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In July 2018, IS-K bombings killed 149 in Mastung, Pakistan.  In May 2021, an IS-K bombing killed 90 in Kabul.  In August 2021, IS-K killed 13 American military personnel and at least 169 Afghans during the U.S. evacuation of Kabul, which marked the highest number of U.S. military deaths in an attack in Afghanistan since 2011. The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for two explosions that killed nearly 100 people and wounded scores of others at a memorial for Iran's top anti-terror commander Lieutenant-General Qassem Soleimani in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman on January 3 this year.  IS-K also claimed responsibility for the March 22 attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue, in which at least 144 people were killed.