The Islamic State group may soon send its fighters into Central Asia, India, China and Europe, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan warned Thursday at the fourth Moscow Conference on International Security. He urged world leaders to work together to create “a front of resistance” against the extremist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Central Asia, a mostly Muslim region, is a ripe recruitment area for ISIS militants as it is still recovering from a power vacuum created by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Porous borders that would allow militants to slip in and out are another draw. “Today, I must say with enormous regret that the countries that support IS and other terrorist groups conduct special training and logistical planning in order to send militants to Central Asia, to the Caucasus, to India, Western China and Europe in the future,” Dehghan said.
A video surfaced in January that showed ISIS militants in Tajikistan calling for jihad against the government of the former Soviet republic, according to the Diplomat. The Islamic Center of Tajikistan warned at the time: “How is it possible to wage jihad in a state whose population is 99 percent Muslim? With whom do they want to wage jihad?”
The leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Usmon Ghazi, pledged allegiance in September to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Militants also hung a black ISIS flag from a bridge in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, just days prior to Uzbekistan’s Independence Day celebrations last summer.
Iran has been a tacit ally against ISIS for Western nations that are otherwise at odds with it. Iran has sent advanced rockets and missiles to Iraq to fight the Islamic State in Tikrit. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that while Iran’s involvement in Tikrit could be “a positive thing,” he warned “it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism,” according to the New York Times.(International Business Times)