Abdullo Sa’dulloevich Nazarov, an outspoken one-star general in Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security (GKNB) – successor to the Soviet-era KGB – was killed [ru] on July 21, 2012, in Ishkashim district, part of the eastern region of GBAO (aka Badakhshan or Gorno-Badakhshan). Since May 2010, Nazarov served as head of GKNB’s office in GBAO, the mountainous region that borders northern Afghanistan, southwestern China, and southern Kyrgyzstan. The job was a demotion for the general who had previously served as deputy chairman of the GKNB for counterterrorism.
According to what scarce details are now available, the general was killed as he drove in a car from Ishkashim to Khorugh (aka Khorog), the capital of GBAO. Nazarov’s car was reportedly stopped by unidentified assailants who stabbed the general with knives. Two personnel from the ‘Alpha Group’ – the GKNB’s Special Forces battalion – accompanied Nazarov during the trip to provide protection. It is unclear at the moment whether they were killed too.
The GKNB has suggested [ru] than a ‘criminal group’ involved in tobacco smuggling might have been behind the general’s murder.
Below is some background information about Nazarov reported by RFE/RL in 2010:
Nazarov was fired from the KGB in Soviet times shortly after he accused the agency of orchestrating violence that led to the bloody suppression of political protests in Dushanbe in February 1990.
In 1992, when Tajikistan’s civil war began, Nazarov went to Afghanistan with the Tajik opposition forces and returned back to the country in 1997 after the peace agreement was signed that ended the war.
He then returned to work with Tajikistan’s security service as part of a deal in which members of the United Tajik Opposition were to receive 30 percent of the posts in the government.
So, Nazarov was part of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) during the 1992-1997 civil war in the country. I am sure many media will now start speculating about the links between the general’s murder and his past as a UTO member. There will also be a lot of speculation about the possible involvement of regional drug trafficking groups in the murder. With its rugged terrain and porous borders, GBAO serves as one of key transit routes for Afghan heroin trafficked to Russia.
Nazarov’s name frequently surfaced in foreign media in recent years. In summer 2010, following the deadly clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, some media accused the general as well as several other Tajik officials of fomenting or directly taking part in the violence. Nazarov then rejected the reports, blaming the violence on ‘superpowers’ who he said used the conflict to increase their influence in Central Asia.
In 2011, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks unveiled that back in 2009, Nazarov told the Americans that ‘many’ inside Pakistan knew where bin Laden was.
The document stated:
For instance, in Pakistan Osama Bin Laden wasn’t an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan, but whenever security forces attempted a raid on his hideouts, the enemy received warning of their approach from sources in the security forces.
One thing is certain now: there will be a lot of speculation and little reliable information about the general’s death.