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06DUSHANBE1720 2006-09-18 07:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dushanbe
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1. (U) Assailants threw Molotov cocktails onto the premises of
the Jewish synagogue and Russian Orthodox Church September 14.
The assailants and their motives are unknown but synagogue
members verified that two young Tajik men ages 17-20 threw three
Molotov cocktails into the synagogue. Two Molotov cocktails
landed in the courtyard in the interior of the building and one
outside the perimeter wall. Synagogue members quickly
extinguished small fires from two of the bottles. A third
bottle did not break. No one was injured. Synagogue members
and the security guard hired after the Molotov cocktail attack
two weeks ago (reftel) chased after the assailants, through the
central park and past the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but could
not catch them.

2. (SBU) Neighbors alerted police immediately and
investigators arrived on the scene within five minutes. EmbOff
witnessed mishandling of evidence as people were allowed to
touch the glass bottles and contaminate the scene. When Poloff
visited the synagogue September 15 for a meeting at an
unannounced time, MOI officials were sitting in the center of
the synagogue. They were not actively investigating the scene
or talking to witnesses. Within five minutes after PolOff's
arrival, an additional two MOI employees arrived. The MOI
lingered by the door during PolOff's meeting with synagogue
officials and within a few minutes of the conversation proceeded
to sit in on the meeting.

3. (SBU) MOI officials claimed they are investigating the
incident, but have no strong leads. In an effort to identify
the attackers, they will ask synagogue members and neighborhood
residents to point them out in a photo line-up. One MOI
official did not even know about the previous synagogue attack
(reftel) and officials said the MOI is investigating the two
incidents separately with two different teams. PolOff pointed
out that there is a strong likelihood the incidents are related
and perhaps the teams should work together, but received no
reply from the MOI officials at the scene. One of the broken
bottles still lay by the outer wall and the MOI had not yet
collected it.

4. (C) An MOI major said the government is treating this as a
very politically sensitive case. He believes the attackers were
acting on behalf of "foreign enemies" aiming to destabilize
Tajikistan. Another MOI official said the attackers are
probably allies of an ostracized Jewish community member out for
revenge. The official stance at present is that simple
hooligans were behind the attack. The head of the Russian
Orthodox Church commented that he too believes the attackers are
hooligans out to cause some trouble. No concrete evidence
clearly indicates who the attackers are or their objective.

5. (C) COMMENT: Theories on the attackers' motives abound,
from foreign agents angry over recent events in the Middle East
to local Muslim youth carrying out anti-Semitic acts. One
looming conflict is the government's long-term clash with the
synagogue over the land dispute. Some say the government could
be behind the attacks in an attempt to force the synagogue out
or that someone within the government could be using the attacks
to justify a greater clamp-down on terrorist or extremist
activity. If the government truly deems the synagogue incidents
politically important it will elevate the cases to the Ministry
of Security level. It is even more unclear why the Russian
Orthodox Church was a target. The Church does not have a

DUSHANBE 00001720 002 OF 002

history of dispute with the government or local population. It
is supported by wealthy Russians and is currently undergoing
building renovations. The near simultaneous nature of these
attacks indicates they were coordinated.

6. (C) The Molotov cocktail attacks cause concern for the
safety of the religious institutions in Dushanbe and their
members. The MOI's mishandling of evidence and apparent lack of
enthusiasm to pursue the cases either due to incompetence or
deliberate planning, is troublesome. It clearly shows that the
MOI needs professional training in crime-scene investigation.