Sayed Abdullo Nuri, 59, the Tajik Islamic leader who led his political party through a civil war against the former Soviet republic's secular government in the 1990s, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
The Islamic Rebirth Party is the only officially recognized Islamic political organization in predominantly Muslim Central Asia, where authoritarian governments tightly control religious institutions.
After years of playing an influential role in Tajikistan's turbulent politics, Nuri had dropped out of the public eye over the last few months because of illness.
An Islamic theologian secretly taught by his father during Soviet times, Nuri helped create the Islamic Rebirth Party in 1990 to seek a greater role for Islamic ideas and traditions in society.
In 1992, a group of party activists proclaimed a region in central Tajikistan to be an Islamic state. An official ban on the party ensued, and many party leaders fled to Afghanistan and Iran, from which they commanded their forces during the civil war.
The war took about 100,000 lives before the party and the Moscow-backed government signed a peace deal in 1997, ending five years of fighting that left Tajikistan one of the poorest countries in the world.