Ayoung Tajik woman who voluntarily joined the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria last year claims militants plan to use her as a suicide bomber unless the Tajik authorities bring her home.
It’s not clear why Marjona Alanazarova, 27, suddenly decided to travel, apparently alone, to Syria to join IS last month.
But now she is desperate to come home.
A year ago, in September 2014, Alanazarova moved to Moscow from her hometown of Shaartuz in Tajikistan’s southwestern Khatlon Province. She took her three small children with her but left her husband, Farrukh, behind.
Farrukh told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that Alanazarova had insisted on going to work in Moscow even though he had not wanted her to do so. He has a jewelry store in Shaartuz and says the family was not short of money.
But Alanazarova went to the Russian capital anyway. She moved in with her aunt and got a job at a sewing company.
There are no details about what happened during Alanazarova’s year in Moscow.
What is known is that at the beginning of September Alanazarova suddenly went to Syria, leaving her three children in the care of her aunt. She did not tell her husband about her decision.
Once in Syria, Alanazarova joined IS. But she very quickly came to regret her decision.
On September 15, about two weeks after she arrived in Syria, the young Tajik woman contacted her husband via the Russian-language social network Odnoklassniki.
Alanazarova begged Farrukh to bring her back to Tajikistan. If she stayed in Syria, she said, militants planned to use her as a suicide bomber.
According to Alanazarova, a young woman who had been with her in Syria had been killed as a result of a suicide attack in Syria.
Now it was her turn, Alanazarova told Farrukh.
The mother of three told Farrukh that she had been promised a good salary if she went to Syria.
Farrukh told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that his wife had been tricked into joining IS.
According to Farrukh, the Tajik authorities have returned Alanazarova’s children — aged 7, 5, and 2 — from Moscow to their father in Shaartuz. But they have not been able to make any promises about helping bring back Alanazarova from Syria.
Shaartuz prosecutors have interviewed Alanazarova’s relatives and gathered information and documents about her case but would not give any details about her location in Syria, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.
IS Female Suicide Bombers?
Charlie Winter, of the U.K.-based counterextremism think tank Quilliam, told RFE/RL that IS has not used female suicide bombers.
“Women are encouraged to train in self-defense and in the production of suicide belts. The idea is that if your house is attacked, you can blow yourself up,” Winter said.
But women are not used in offensive operations. According to unofficial guidelines issued by a pro-IS media group aimed at women, that would have to be ordered by the group’s leader.
It is unlikely based on IS’s previous behavior that Alanazarova would be deployed as a suicide bomber.
But if her claim is verified, it would mark a drastic, and worrying, new development for the extremist group.
There have been reports of women who said they were prepared to act as suicide bombers for IS. A 25-year-old Kyrgyz woman arrested in Moscow in July as she planned to join IS in Syria told RFE/RL that she wanted to “blow herself up” in a combat zone.