TASHKENT, April 10. /TASS/. Some 1,700 Russian nationals may be fighting on the side of the Islamic State terrorist organization, but the number may be even higher, Sergey Smirnov, the first deputy director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), said on Friday.
"According to FSB data, about 1,700 people from Russia may be involved in the Islamic State activities," Smirnov said after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Council of Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure in Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent.
Smirnov said the council’s session focused on the issues concerning the fight against ISIL, particularly on information exchange between member states of the SCO, which comprises six permanent members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and five countries enjoying the status of observers (Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan).
According to Smirnov, the Islamic State had been trying to recruit supporters in Russia’s North Caucasus saying that it was "a very dangerous trend" since the terrorist organization was trying to expand the zone of its interests and influence.
"One of the risks of the Islamic State is it is beginning to infiltrate other terrorist organizations. They have taken special interest in the terrorist organization Imarat Kavkaz," Smirnov said adding that "some Imarat Kavkaz field commanders have already vowed allegiance to the Islamic State."
The high-ranking FSB official also said Tajikistan security services had information that approximately 300 Tajik nationals were also fighting on the side of militants from the Islamic State organization, also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).