2018 Tajikistan tourist attack

The terrorist attack against cyclists in Tajikistan happened on July 29, 2018 (UTC+05:00).[1] Four Western touring cyclists were killed while cycling in the Danghara District, and two more were injured after five IS members rammed them with a car and then got out of the vehicle and stabbed them.

Terrorist attack against cyclists in Tajikistan
LocationDanghara district, Tajikistan
DateJuly 29, 2018[1]
TargetWestern cyclists
Weaponscar ramming, stabbing
Perpetrators Islamic State
MotiveIslamic extremism



Terrorist movements are known to be present in Central Asia; Afghanistan, with which Tajikistan shares a long border, has been affected by decades of Islamist murderous attacks. However, terrorist attacks have been infrequent in Tajikistan, mostly targeting the Government agencies.[2][3]

The country is popular with touring cyclists because of its scenic mountain roads like the Pamir highway.[3]



On July 29, 2018 at approximately 3:30 pm, while seven Western cyclists were cycling the Kulyab-Dushanbe highway (A385) next to the village of Safobakhsh on the Danghara district, about a 100 km south of Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe,[1] 5 assailants driving a Daewoo sedan made a U-turn and rammed into them with their vehicle; then, they got out of the car and stabbed them with some knives and an ax.[4][5] Four cyclists died and two were injured. According to Radio Free Europe, the men were searching for a target in order to perpetrate a terrorist attack and found the cyclists "by chance" on the highway; their backer agreed with the target on July 28 and they then followed them until the attack.[4]



Four touring cyclists died, Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan,[6] from the US, who were on a world cycling tour, René Wokke,[7] a Dutch citizen, and Markus Hummel from Switzerland.[8] One Swiss and one Dutch were admitted in the hospital in critical condition while a Frenchman who had fallen behind the group before the attack remained unharmed.[9][10]



According to the Tajik authorities, the perpetrators are five Tajik nationals. Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, who had recently come back to Tajikistan from Russia, was said to be the ringleader of the group.[4] He was arrested early on July 30. The other four suspects were killed by the police while, according to the police, resisting their arrest.[4] Zafarjon Safarov and Asomiddin Majidov, both 19-years-old, two relatives of Abdusamadov, had just come back from Russia two days before the attacks.[4] The two others are Jafariddin Yusupov, 26, and Asliddin Yusupov, 21, two siblings. The oldest is said to have been radicalized by Abdusamadov in Russia and accordingly convinced his brother to join the plot. The younger brother had served as a soldier in the Tajik Army.[4]

The group of five appear in a video posthumously released by news agencies of the Islamic State in which they pledge allegiance to its self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[9] However, the Tajik authorities downplayed the IS responsibility, blaming instead the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan that was banned in 2015,[3] the General prosecutor of Tajikistan consider that the IS allegiance is just a cover.[1]

The backer of the attack appears to be a 45-year-old Tajik cleric named Nosirhoja Ubaidov and known as Qori Nosir who radicalized Hussein Abdusamadov and asked him to carry out a terrorist attack.[4] Tajik authorities have linked him with the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan and Iran without presenting any specific evidence, both the IRPT and Iran have denied any links with the attack.[4]

Tajikistan experts have put into question the Tajik government allegations, insisting that the attack was most likely perpetuated by grass-roots Islamic State sympathizers, explaining that accusing the Islamic Renaissance Party is an opportunity for the officials to repress opposition groups while downplaying the Islamic State regional threat.[3]

On March 2, 2020 the ringleader Abdusamadov died while in prison.[11] Tajik authorities stated that his body bore no signs of violence, and added that investigations had been launched into the death. On March 4, Abdusamadov's mother told RFE/RL that the given cause of death was kidney failure,[12] while also expressing skepticism. She also confirmed that there were no apparent traces of violence on her son's body.



A memorial plaque was erected in the village of Safobakhsh next to the attack site.[13] Tajik authorities fear the murder will ruin efforts made recently to promote tourism in the country; many travel cancellations occurred after the events.[14]

Some English-speaking news sites and social media posts raised the idea that the American couple had been excessively naive for travelling in Tajikistan. Before the attack, however, the official U.S. travel advisory for Tajikistan was at Level 1, the lowest; it was raised to Level 2[2] (exercise increased caution) in the aftermath of the attack.[3][6]


  1. ^ a b c d "STATEMENT of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Tajikistan". General Prosecutor's office – Republic of Tajikistan. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Tajikistan International Travel Information". travel.state.gov. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Were the American cyclists killed in Tajikistan naive for traveling there?". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "From 'Presidential Lyceum' To Jihadist Drifter: The Mutable Path Of An Accused Terrorist 'Ringleader' In Tajikistan". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Callimachi, Rukmini (August 7, 2018). "A Dream Ended on a Mountain Road: The Cyclists and the ISIS Militants". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "FACT CHECK: Were an American Couple Killed by Isis While Trying to 'Prove Humans Are Kind'?". Snopes.com. August 16, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  7. ^ "Amsterdammer komt om bij aanrijding in Tadzjikistan – Amsterdam – PAROOL". Het Parool (in Dutch). July 30, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  8. ^ Baumgartner, Pete (August 2018). "Tragedy in Tajikistan: Most Humans 'Are Warm, Friendly People Who Wish Us No Harm'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Luhn, Alec (July 31, 2018). "Isil claims attack after four US and European cyclists killed in Tajikistan". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Kramer, Andrew E.; Callimachi, Rukmini (July 30, 2018). "ISIS Says It Killed 4 Cyclists in Tajikistan". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Tajik Islamic State Sympathizer and Attack Ringleader Dies in Prison
  12. ^ "Mother Questions Prison Death Of Son Who Led Tajik Group That Killed Foreign Cyclists". Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  13. ^ "Memorial plaque installed at the scene of deadly attack on foreign tourists in Danghara | Tajikistan News ASIA-Plus". Archived from the original on August 6, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "Killings in Tajikistan send chill through tourism business". Retrieved August 21, 2018.