Selected stories relating to extremism and terrorism in Russia (excluding the North Caucasus). These highlights are intended to provide an overview of the most interesting stories rather than a comprehensive survey of all reporting on the issues. Interesting material from extremist websites is not included for ethical and legal reasons. English-language material is only briefly summarised, with a link provided to the original content.
Dagestani imam arrested in Berlin: German police arrest Murad Atayev, a Berlin-based Dagestani imam and Islamic State “information aggregator,” on suspicion of recruiting people to join IS and procuring supplies for the group.
(Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE/RL, 16 October 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state-daghestani-imam-arrested-berlin/27310300.html)
Dagestani religious board approves Russian actions in Syria: The Spiritual Board of the Muslims of Dagestan has issued a statement approving Russia’s actions in Syria. Expressing “deep concern” at the “tragic events” in Syria, it talks of efforts by the ulema and imams to prevent young Dagestanis being drawn to the Islamic State and calls on fighting parties to engage in constructive dialogue. It argues that Russia has always had friendly relations with the Arab and Islamic world, and its actions in Syria are “directed towards stopping the murder of people, restoring peace, and stabilising the situation in the region.”
(Islam News, 17 October 2015, http://www.islamnews.ru/news-477726.html)
Islamic State recruiter arrested in Krasnodar Kray: Russia’s FSB announced the detention on 16 October of a Russian citizen in Krasnodar Kray accused of recruiting for the Islamic State and preparing to detonate an IED on a commuter train. He reportedly communicated with an IS member in Syria, whom he asked for advice on constructing the IED, and planned to travel to Syria after carrying out the attack.
(EurAsia Daily, 19 October 2015, https://eadaily.com/news/2015/10/19/v-krasnodarskom-krae-zaderzhan-verbovshchik-ig-planirovavshiy-terakt; Newsru.com, 19 October 2015, http://www.newsru.com/russia/19oct2015/terakt.html)
Muslim activist claims consideral Islamic State support in Khabarovsk Kray: Khamza Kuznetsov, the head of the Sodruzhestvo movement in Khabarovsk Kray and the former mufti of the Central Spriritual Board of Muslims, claims that 20% of practicing Muslims —which he estimates at only 10% of the total number of Muslims — in the area sympathise with the ideas of the Islamic State. Kuznetsov claims that IS is actively recruiting online and particularly among migrant communities from Central Asia, who are being offered a monthly salary of R50,000 to migrate to IS.
(EurAsia Daily, 19 October 2015, https://eadaily.com/news/2015/10/19/hamza-kuznecov-20-musulman-v-habarovskom-krae-podderzhivayut-islamskoe-gosudarstvo)
Russian speakers in Syria form new alliance: Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar’s remaining Russian speakers appear to have joined the Russian speakers in the Uzbek-led group Katiba Sayfullakh in a new alliance called Liwa al-Muhajirin.
(From Chechnya to Syria, 19 October 2015, http://www.chechensinsyria.com/?p=24191)
Senior Kremlin official explains Russia’s actions in Syria: Head of the Kremlin administration Sergey Ivanov claims that Russia is waging a military campaign in Syria because of the threat posed by fighters returning from the Islamic State.
(06region.ru, 19 October 2015, http://06region.ru/glavnaya/politika/10362-ivanov-staraemsya-sdelat-tak-chtoby-v-rossiyu-nekomu-bylo-exat-iz-ig-glava-administraczii-prezidenta-rasskazal-o-prichinax-nachala-voennoj-operaczii-v-sirii)
Russian-speaking fundraising for Jabhat al-Nusrah: A Russian-speaking militant from Central Asia is highly active online in his efforts to raise funds for Jabhat al-Nusrah.
(RFE/RL, 19 October 2015, http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state-al-qaeda-publicist-russian-speaking/27315012.html)
Islamic State activists target Russian websites: According to cyber security experts, Islamic State “hackers” have attacked over 600 Russian sites, including minor government ones, in the last year and are targeting major companies and online state resources. The primary form of attacking websites appears to be cyber vandalism: posting pro-IS messages on websites’ homepages.
(Izvestiya, 20 October 2015, http://izvestia.ru/news/593291)
Supreme Court rejects Hizb ut-Tahrir convictee appeal: Russia’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a Dagestani man sentenced in May 2015 to five years in prison for membership of a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell.
(SOVA Center, 16 October 2015, http://www.sova-center.ru/religion/news/extremism/counter-extremism/2015/10/d33051/)
Alleged Islamic State/Jabhat al-Nusrah recruiter sentenced: A Tajikistani court has sentenced a man to 16 years in prison for fighting in Syria and recruiting in Russia. In a report that reflects the Russian media’s conflation of groups, Kommersant reported that he had fought for the Islamic State, but then claims that in February 2013 he “joined the group Jabhat al-Nusrah, which at that time was an ally of IS.” The Tajikistani citizen reportedly then returned to Russia and started recruiting for one of the groups, until he was arrested in January 2015 attempting to leave for Ukraine and was extradited to Tajikistan.
(Kommersant, 19 October 2015, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2835579)
Russian expert claims a high percentage of Muslim converts become terrorists: Roman Silantyev, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Center for Geography and Religion, claims that 40% of converts to Islam become terrorists and mosques and halal cafes are acting as recruitment centres. Silantyev claims that terrorists seek individuals of Slavic appearance because they provoke less suspicion and many have a technical education. He also alleges that people who “do not recognise the authorities and the moral basis of society,” members of the intelligentisa, the mentally ill, ugly women, and paedophiles are particularly vulnerable to recruitment.
(Islam News, 16 October 2015, http://www.islamnews.ru/news-477711.html)