Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
Recent arrests of Russian citizens in the Stavropol territory linked with the Islamic State confirmed that jihadist propaganda penetrated the Russian territory by exploiting local problems and influencing the Muslim communities disseminated in the country, especially in the North Caucasus, where the Kremlin has contrasted local militancy and religious extremism.
On October 7th, 2022, the Center for Public Relations of the Russian FSB announced that local security forces arrested Russian citizens accused of preparing a terrorist attack against transport facilities in the Stavropol territory. Russian security authorities informed that the people arrested during a complex security operation belonged to an Islamic State clandestine cell.
Previously, in September, the Russian security forces detained in Moscow several members of a local cell accused of financing the Islamic State terrorist organization. According to Russian operatives, the cell was composed of Russian citizens who were involved in transferring more than 100 thousand rubles using bank cards to the Islamic State channel for financing militants.
Why does it matter?
The North Caucasus, and generally the Russian Federation, is not immune to terrorism and jihadist propaganda linked with the Islamic State (IS) or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). As previously SpecialEurasia reported, the Russian security forces have increased their counter-terrorist activities to face terrorist cells and prevent violent attacks in Russian territory.
The Stavropol territory is part of the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD), a Russian administrative entity well-known for local instability, religious extremism, and violent attacks. The Kremlin has hugely financed socio-economic projects and promoted regional security operations to contrast local militancy and terrorist groups. Therefore, since the beginning of 2022, the North Caucasus has totalled only two victims related to violent attacks, according to Kavkaz Uzel.
On the one hand, the positive trend in the North Caucasus related to the decrease in violent attacks and related victims underlines the Kremlin’s strategy to contrast terrorism activities and jihadist propaganda. On the other hand, recent arrests in the North Caucasus and other Russian federal entities have highlighted how deep jihadist groups might penetrate Russian society, especially in those regions where most of the local people are Muslims, such as the Stavropol territory in the NCFD.
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