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Expert says IS recruiting network in Russia may become terrorist one

June 21, 2016, 13:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Current developments in the Middle East make the IS boost their activities in the neighboring countries

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© Militant photo via AP, File

MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Islamic State’s recruiting network has benetted the entire country and may be easily transformed into a terrorist network, a Russian expert said on Tuesday.

"In the context of the latest developments in the Middle East when Islamic State is being narrowed from all directions and this terrorist organization is stepping up its activities towards development of international networks, it is vitally important not to let terrorist underworld grow stronger in our country," Akhmet Yarlykapov, a senior research fellow at the center for the problems of the Caucasus and regional security of the Russian foreign ministry’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), told the Valdai discussion club.

Yarlykapov present his analytical report "Russian Islam in the context of the situation in the Middle East."

"Imarat Kavkaz, or Caucasus Emirate, in the North Caucasus is being replaced by a new terrorist group affiliated with Islamic State’s branch Caucasus Province, which is also financed from the Middle East," he said. "And although it has little active militants, the series of terrorist attacks in Dagestan since the end of 2015 has demonstrated that they are seeking to unleash a terrorist war on Russia on its own territory under a news brand name."

He drew attention to the fact that Islamic State’s recruiting network has benetted entire Russia and not only its North Caucasian but also other Russian regions, especially its big cities and oil bearing region in the North, are now exposed to the threat of possible terrorist attacks. "And today’s most important task is to expose and terminate recruiting networks and ‘dormant’ terrorist cells, along with blocking channels of their financing," he stressed.

"Another potential threat is the return of some of militants from the Middle East to Russia," the expert went on to say. "Their experience and skills acquired in battlefields, their knowledge of the Russian specifics, their ties with local terrorist networks are too useful to be ignored by Islamic State. Blocks should be set on their way in all possible directions, including in close cooperation with ‘non-traditional’ Muslim communities."

Another problem, in his words, is reintegration of Russian citizens who have already returned from the Middle East. "It is a very difficult and painful problem," Yarlykapov noted. "Obviously, a larger part of young Muslims returning from Islamic State are people who have really got disappointed and are sincerely regretting their erroneous choice. And nevertheless, some people from among them might pursue certain concrete goals - to establish a network of Islamic State followers or even simply set up a so-called dormant cell that might be activated at a right moment."

According to the expert, in order to facilitate reintegration of young men returning from Islamic State it would be expedient to thoroughly study the experience of adaptation commission officially functioning in the North Caucasus under government structures. Such structures proved their efficiency in Dagestan and Ingushetia where they helped dozens of young people not involved in bloodshed to adapt to peaceful life. "It looks right to set up such commissions at the federal level as Islamic State recruiting, regrettably, has stretched across the entire country," Yarlykapov added.

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