MOSCOW, January 31. /TASS/. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) has said there is a drop in terrorist activity in Russia.
"The trend of declining terrorist activity persists," Igor Kulyagin, First Deputy Head of NAC’s Central Office, told a press briefing on Tuesday.
He noted that in 2016 anti-terrorist activities were carried out amid the high level of terror threats emanating from the international terrorist groups and gang leaders operating in Russia.
"Last year, more than 140 militants and 24 leaders were killed. More than 900 gunmen and their accomplices were detained," Igor Kulyagin said.
A large amount of weapons and ammunition was seized from the militants. Almost 50 warehouses and laboratories for manufacturing small arms were destroyed, half as much as in 2015. "More than 100 kg of explosives were seized and 199 self-made explosive devices were defused," he added.
"Over 40 terrorism-related crimes were prevented while they were still being prepared," he said.
According to Kulyagin, terrorist attacks were thwarted in Moscow, particularly near the French embassy, as well as in St. Petersburg and in the Republic of Ingushetia. On May 2, 2016, members of the Islamic State (IS) international terror group, outlawed in Russia, were arrested, who had been plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in Moscow during the May holiday season and the Ice Hockey World Championships.
Besides that, IS supporters planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the city of Krasnoyarsk on May 9, as well as members of a terror group preparing attacks in St. Petersburg and in the Moscow region, were also arrested. In Ingushetia, five members of a militant group were identified who planned to conduct terror attacks in Moscow during the Christmas holiday season, particularly near the French embassy. On December 28-29, 2016, IS cell members, preparing terror attacks in Moscow during the Christmas holiday season upon instructions from a Syrian militant group head, were arrested in Dagestan.
"These atrocious crimes could have claimed the lives of thousands of civilians," Kulyagin said.
Accounts of more than 2,000 persons involved in terrorist activities, were blocked in Russia in 2016, he went on.
"We blocked accounts of more than 2,000 persons in respect of whom we had credible reports of their involvement in terrorism," he said.
According to Kulyagin, international terrorist groups remained the main source of financing of such accounts.
"They (accounts) also accumulated funds from economic crimes and drug trafficking," he said adding that also e-payment systems were used.
"In 2016, 86 Russian citizens were prevented from travelling abroad to join terrorist organizations, while the activities of 34 recruiters to terrorist organizations were thwarted," he said, adding that young people are recruited predominantly.
"Joint efforts by various agencies in the territory of the North Caucasus have brought about a steady decline in terrorist crimes, such as shootouts, mine explosions and attacks by armed gangs. Their number has reduced by 40% in contrast to 2014 and by 11% against 2015," he said.
Kulyagin noted the effectiveness of counter-terrorist operations against the backdrop of their further reduction by 50% in comparison with 2014.
"The Russian Federation and the NAC are in favor of developing mutually beneficial and substantial cooperation in combating terrorism. This is a principled stance, and we continue to adhere to it," Kulyagin said. "We will be happy, if cooperation (with the US) receives a new impetus."
Adviser to the Chairman of Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, Andrei Przhezdomsky, said the number of Russian nationals recruited to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group outlawed in Russia is decreasing.
"There has been a decline in replenishment of Islamic State’s units from Russia’s territory," he said.
Przhezdomsky noted that IS ringleaders now have to transform their activities, to structure them from abroad and create small gangs.
"Emissaries who used to come from Syria and Turkey now not only look for perpetrators of terrorist attacks but also form sleeper cells that are to carry out terror attacks by a signal. Sometimes they also act as couriers and coordinators," he said, adding that these groups are funded in the traditional way, that is, by means of electronic banking.
"Apart from closing websites spreading extremist ideas, the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service have dismantled international internet terrorist community cells which were active on Russia’s territory with over 100,000 members all over the world. The cells were spreading radical ideas as well as recruiting new militants and collecting funds," he said.
According to Przhezdomsky, 69 of the so-called moderators and recruiters have been arrested, criminal cases have been initiated against them.