The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained five members of a group associated with Islamic State, who are believed to have been preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Moscow and the southern Russian Republic of Ingushetia.
“Russia’s FSB... has suppressed the activity of the group, which was designed to commit crimes of a terrorist and extremist nature on the territory of Ingushetia and Moscow and is connected with the international terrorist Islamic State organization,”the FSB reported.
Five members of the gang were detained in houses where they took refuge. The FSB has found an arsenal that included, among other things, five trunks of firearms, two ready-made improvised explosive devices (each equivalent to about 10 kilograms of TNT), and the components of a sniper rifle.
On Saturday, Russian security services thwarted a plot to blow up targets in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the FSB reported. The suspects of Central Asian origin were arrested in collaboration with law enforcement in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, it has been reported.
“An operation conducted on November 12 in Moscow and St. Petersburg resulted in the arrests of 10 terrorists. They had a total of four powerful IEDs in their arsenals, which were seized,” the FSB said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the suspects “confessed to having contacts with leaders of the terrorist group Islamic State based in the Middle East.”
“They also identified targets of their attack, accomplices and a support base, both in Russia and in other countries,” it added.
Islamic State is a terrorist group based mostly in Iraq and Syria, which has also expanded into Libya and Afghanistan. It has masterminded several high-profile attacks in large European cities over the past two years, most notably in Paris and Brussels.
On November 13 of last year, a cell of the group carried out a wave of bombings and shootings, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more in the French capital. In March, a connected cell launched suicide attacks in the airport and a metro station in Brussels, leaving 23 people dead and more than 300 injured. The terrorist cells behind the deadly Paris and Brussels attacks received their orders from someone “very high” in the Islamic State chain of command, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said last week.
Russia’s military is currently fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, where the terrorist group is trying to impose a fundamentalist Islamic regime.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimated in July that some 2,000 fighters hailing from Russia, including 17 warlords, had been killed in the course of the large-scale air campaign in Syria.