Support The Moscow Times!

Uzbek Migrants Returning From Russia Quizzed Over Jihad Fears, Report Says

Men pray in a mosque.

Uzbekistan's National Security Service is reportedly questioning citizens who return from working in Russia to see if they have become jihadists, amid suspicions that some mosques in Russia are becoming centers for Islamic radicalization.

The questions asked by agents from the security service, or SNB, include whether returning migrants attended a mosque in Russia and, if so, which one, and who accompanied them to prayers, RFE/RL reported over the weekend.

The SNB also seems to have detailed background information on the returning migrants' religious involvement across the border, the report said, adding that it has a history of working with Russia's Security Service, the FSB.

Rights activist Abdusalom Ergashev told RFE/RL's Uzbek service Ozodlik that some mosques in Russia and "especially mosques in Moscow" are known for radical Islamist prayer services and that attending those mosques is enough to make a returning migrant a suspect, leading to arrest.

Ergashev claimed that the FSB intentionally uses those mosques to identify Muslim men who may be sympathetic to jihad, according to the report.

Uzbekistan's government has become worried about the possibility of militant Islam taking hold in Central Asia as the U.S. withdraws its troops from neighboring Afghanistan, and it has appealed to Russia to help block the threat of radicalism, Reuters reported.

Scores of Uzbek migrant workers have returned home this year to pick up their new biometric passports, which the country made mandatory for traveling across the border in summer, RFE/RL reported.

Read more