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Training of specialized antiterrorist squads begins in Russia

December 06, 2013, 19:22 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Video still/National anti-terrorist Committee of Russia

MOSCOW, December 06. /ITAR-TASS/. While the Old World is developing concern over a return to Europe of hundreds of Muslims who fought on the side of the irreconcilable opposition in Syria, Russia is also taking measures to ward off the same threat.

Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov has said the instructors of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service /FSB/ have got down to training the special assignment squads for fighting the Chechen militants and other natives of Northern Caucasus who have been taking part in combat operations against the Syrian government forces.

Kadyrov voiced the apprehensions at his official Internet site that these people would return to their homeland sooner or later and would rejoin the local paramilitary groupings.

“Thousands of militants who, according to the estimates of Russian intelligence services, pose a serious and real threat to our country, are currently in Syria,” he said. “They’ve already begun to belch out threats in the worldwide web saying they will launch subversive activities in Russia.”

“Not only a group of instructors but, rather, whole battalions and regiments of the Interior Ministry and other departments are engaged in training in Chechnya’s rugged mountainous terrain,” Kadyrov went on. “From five to seven thousand men are out in the forest today. Or does anyone think you can send a soldier or a sergeant to fight with the perfectly trained terrorists in the mountains if he has never been either in a forest or at a mountain slope?”

“We wouldn’t like to see hundreds of coffins be taken from Northern Caucasus to various regions of Russia and that’s why we’re taking /appropriate/ measures,” he wrote. “We are confident that the terrorists in Syria must be aware of what Russia has in store for them if they show up here and that’s why we’re doing this with maximum openness.”

European secret services, too, are watching their citizens arriving from Syria. They also seek to expose the potential extremists, even though not so overtly as their Russian counterparts do.

Official data suggests that no less than 1,200 citizens of European countries are warring in the ranks of radical Islamic groupings in Syria but unofficial data quoted by the media is far more disquieting. It indicates that the number of EU citizens engaged in warfare in Syria stands between 2,000 and 10,000.

Journalistic investigations done in April and May in the small Belgium alone showed that some 200 or even more Belgians of Arabic origin were fighting in Syria. They had been recruited to war by Sharia for Belgium, a radical Wahhabi organization.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the threat of a return of Jihadists from Syria to Europe as “a time bomb that’s ticking already.”

“The blunt truth is there are more people associated with al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda associated organizations now operating in Syria then there have ever been before […],” Charles Farr, the Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the UK Home Office admitted in July 2013.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service /CSIS/ says the nationals of Canada are joining the opposition forces and the extremist groupings linke to Al Qaeda in Syria.

Belgian TV channel RTBF said that nine leading EU countries - Belgium, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden - sent a letter to the European Parliament back in spring asking it to issue permission at an earliest possible date for compiling a pan-European list of air passengers’ personal data, which would help track down the individuals visiting the zones of armed conflicts. The measure was called upon to place suspicious individuals under the security services’ watch.

Britain runs a special program codenamed the Channel, with the aid of which the authorities identify and provide patronage to the people who espouse extremist views and may hence fall under the influence of radical elements. More than 500 people, many of them school-age children, have joined the program.

The Dutch government has raised the level of terrorist alert to considerable saying the decision was linked to a possible return home of the holders of Dutch passports currently warring in Syria.

It is quite obvious that the pooling of efforts of the security services of many countries to counteract the threat of international terrorism. The FSB said at the beginning of November it had resumed collaboration with British security experts. John Sowers, the head of MI6 said then Britain would develop cooperation with Russia.

U.S. secret services, including the FBR collaborated with the Russian authorities in the investigation of April 15 explosions in Boston.

On the threshold of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, representatives of security agencies of twenty countries held joint consultations and exercises in Sochi to ensure security and safety of athletes and guests at the Games.

Veterans of the Russian secret services hail the practice of this kind. “An event of such a scale as the OIympic Games surely requires well-coordinated work on the part of security services of different countries,” Major-General Yuri Kobaladze, Rt., told Itar-Tass.

“By openly saying that special assignment squads are being trained, Ramzan Kadyrov thus sent a warning to the potential terrorists to stay away from Northern Caucasus because they will encounter well-prepared soldiers and officers there,” Gen Kobaladze said.

“As for the possibility of a return of militants from Syria to Russia and other countries, it’s not at all a plot of anyone’s fantasies,” he said. “Islamic radicals are creeping to all corners of the world right in front of our eyes. The situation was the same after hostilities in Libya and Iraq but the span of military actions in Syria is much broader, since people from dozens of countries are entangled in the civil war there on the side of Bashar al-Assad and the irreconcilable opposition.”

“That’s why the security services of all the nations should make concerted efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism from the territory of Syria,” Gen Kobaladze said. “Russia leadership keeps stressing the importance of cooperation in this crucial field.

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