KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- After a week of hearings, the Sughd Provincial Court Wednesday (April 18) sentenced seven members of one family from Naugilem, Isfara District, to various prison terms for trying to join the "Islamic State" (IS).
Bakhodur Nasriddinov, 47, the organiser and motivating force of the attempt, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. His mother, Mavluda Nasriddinova, received a 12-year sentence, as did three other female relatives -- Farzona Nasriddinova and Mushokhira and Shokhina Nurulloyeva.
Two other male family members -- Khaidarkhon Nasriddinov and Nasrullokhon Abduvaliyev -- were sentenced to 12 years, six months.
The sentence takes effect in 10 days if the defendants do not appeal to the Supreme Court.
Two other members of the family were not tried -- Marifat Nasriddinova, 16, for being a juvenile, and Shokhida Nurulloyeva, 24, for mental illness reasons.
Heading to Syria
In March 2017, Bakhodur's relatives left Naguliem village, telling their other family members they would be visiting him in Dushanbe, according to the court.
The various Nasriddinov relatives were part of 28 would-be militants who flew to Almaty, and from there to Istanbul. With the help of an Azerbaijani citizen named Salokhiddin (last name not disclosed; fate unknown), the group tried to cross from Turkey into Syria in three SUVs.
Turkish police halted the vehicle that Bakhodur Nasriddinov was driving. The two other vehicles were able to reach Syria, and the passengers are all thought to be living in Idlib Province, Syria.
The nine Tajiks were arrested and deported via Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan back to Tajikistan, a process that took several months.
Even after they returned, the deportees' behaviour led authorities to suspect that they would still try to go to Syria if they could.
Evidence included Bakhodur Nasriddinov's internet messages with relatives in Syria. They also never contacted police upon their return to Tajikistan and never expressed remorse, even during the trial, prosecutor Raufkhon Aliyev told Caravanserai.
In 2017, Sughd Province courts tried 165 terrorist and extremist cases with 257 defendants, according to the Provincial Court. In 2016, the number of such defendants in the province was 305.