Anti-terrorism drill in Kaliningrad.Vitaly Nevar/TASS
All Russian nationals fighting alongside the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist organization are being monitored by the country’s special services, according to a reply given by the Russian Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) to State Duma member Valery Rashkin in response to an official query he submitted.
The reply said that the FSB was monitoring some 3,000 people and that criminal cases had been opened against nearly 900 people. These include not only Russian nationals who have returned from Syria and Iraq but also those who continue to fight in the ranks of the banned organization.
However, many believe that despite the work of the special FSB directorate, the measures being taken against these people are not enough.
“I believe that exhaustive measures to combat terrorism have not yet been taken, which is why terrorists continue to pursue their evil, black deeds,” Rashkin told the Kommersant-FM radio station.
Sergei Oznobishchev, head of the Institute of Strategic Assessments, said that to fight terrorists in Russia, it is first of all necessary to adjust the existing legislation, adding that each militant’s case should be considered separately.
Some of those Russians who have returned after fighting alongside ISIS may present no threat to the country’s security, said Grigory Kosach, professor at the department of Contemporary Oriental Studies at the Russian State University for the Humanities. However, tough measures are needed to prevent further recruitment by ISIS, he added.
“People may have returned, having grown disappointed in a certain ideal that they may have had as regards Islamic State, and these people are most likely harmless. On the other hand, a large group of people who have returned from the territories controlled by Islamic State have of course been subjected to certain ideas,” said Kosach.
“If the special services have the relevant information, then of course it is necessary to take the most radical measures. These people may recruit new supporters, some of them have been especially tasked with recruitment,” he explained.
According to FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, in 2015 the special services have prevented some 100 people from leaving the country in order to join militant groups.
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