Islamic State cells led by Chechen recruiter Akhmed Chetayev are planning terrorist attacks in Russia and Europe, Moscow’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee reported. Former Iraqi army officers are taking part in training terrorists to attack Russia, it added.
“Russian special services have intelligence that certain IS groups are preparing terrorist attacks in Russia and European nations,” Andrey Przhezdomsky, spokesman for the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee, warned on Friday. “In particular, a battalion formed mainly from recruits from North Caucasus headed by Akhmed Chetayev, nicknamed One-Handed.”
Chetayev’s group reportedly includes dozens of people born in Russia’s southern republics who traveled to Syria to join the ranks of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The official added that former Iraqi army officers who served under Saddam Hussein are training the terrorists.
Przhezdomsky said Russian border guards and special services are doing their best to stem the flow of terrorists to and from Syria through Turkey. More than 100 would-be IS recruits were arrested before they could join the ranks and more than 800 fighters were busted on their way into Russia, he said. Among them were 22 recruiters of the terrorists.
The effort helped prevent several terrorist attacks in Russia, the official said.
“Just recently, a group of four hardcore militants arrived from Syria, planning to hit one of [Russia’s] major cities,” he said.
The group entered Russia legally, found a safe house and purchased parts for making improvised explosive devices, unaware that they were being followed by Russian agents.
“They were arrested and are awaiting trial,” Przhezdomsky said.
He added that the movement of people attempting to go to Syria and become terrorist fighters has passed its peak, but still remains a security issue for Russia.
“There is a well-developed system for trafficking IS recruits into Syria. The main route goes through Istanbul,” he said. “People fill in a form, write their bio, their identity is checked, their mobile phones hacked. If any suspicion comes out of it, the recruit is taken into solitary confinement and awaits punishment. Usually in the form of being shot to death.”