"Governments like President Rahmon's have bandied about the words 'terrorism' and 'Islamists' to essentially confuse the situation and in order to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community to get some space to maneuver and deal with opposition," Ms. Ismail-Beben says. "They know that governments in the West fear Islamists like a plague and use this to provide cover for their actions."
"I am not sure the circle around Rahmon is shedding tears over this guy," says Zohra Ismail-Beben, an anthropologist at Indiana University who has written extensively on Tajikistan. "After all, [Mr. Nazarov] was part of the opposition during the civil war, and he was sent to a kind of thankless post. But it does provide a really good excuse and a perfect cover for a government looking to clean house."