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MOSCOW, October 28. /TASS/. Joining the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group by part of the Taliban movement has intensified the threat of the terrorists’ invasion of Central Asia, Director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov said in Moscow on Wednesday at a meeting of the Council of the heads of security services of the CIS member states.
"The escalation of tension in Afghanistan causes serious concern. Numerous IS gangs that are part of the Taliban movement are currently concentrated on the northern borders of that country. Some of them have joined the Islamic State ranks, which has dramatically intensified the threat of the terrorists’ invasion of Central Asia," said the FSB chief.
"Unfortunately, there have been incidents recently at the frontiers of our regional partners," he said.
According to the official around 40% of Islamic State members are foreign mercenaries.
"According to our estimates, nationals from more than 100 countries have joined terrorist structures. The share of foreign mercenaries reaches 40%," Bortnikov told the session of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) council of heads of security services and special services.
"Around 10 groupings include citizens of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Central Asian countries. The geography of countries is inevitably expanding," he said.
Bortnikov stressed that "an extensive network of training camps has been set up in Syria and Iraq, as well as in neighboring countries, to train recruits." "More than that, several leaders of regional terrorist and extremist groups operating from on the territory from Africa to Europe and South East Asia pledge allegiance to IS," he added.
The security service chief noted that some actions of several countries in Asia and Africa have put the world on the edge of global religious and civilizational conflict.
"The international community currently faces a new political challenge - bandits from the so-called Islamic State. This project that emerged from the notorious Arab Spring has expanded due to ambiguous policy of several global and regional powers that tried to solve their strategic tasks in Asia and Africa with the help of a ‘terrorist ram’," Bortnikov told the session of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) council of heads of security services and special services.
These countries have thus put the world on the edge of global religious and civilizational conflict which can have devastating consequences, he added.
Bortnikov said the threat for CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries is growing as militants are returning from hot spots.
"Militants returning from hot spots in the Middle East and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan zone present a threat to security of CIS countries," Bortnikov told the session of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) council of heads of security services and special services. "After acquiring practical skills in disguise, mine blast waves and waging combat actions in urban environments, they set up autonomous militant cells ready to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage. The aim of terrorists and their curators is to destabilize the situation in the CIS countries," Bortnikov stressed.
"In such conditions, considering ineffectiveness of the US-led international coalition on neutralizing a terrorist threat in the Middle East, Russia responded to the Syrian leadership’s request to provide military aid with the aim to prevent mass return of bandits to their home countries. As you know, the aforementioned operation has already showed significant results," he said.
Apart from suppressing sources of terrorism outside the Russian territory, Russian special services and law enforcement agencies also "work scrupulously" to prevent terrorist and extremist manifestations inside the country, Bortnikov continued. He reminded that "large cells of the Islamic State and Hizb ut-Tahrir were eliminated in Moscow recently that included CIS nationals."
The FSB head also called for "increasing exchange of preventive intelligence information about terrorists’ personal data, their plans and supporters."
The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announce the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US’ Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.
Russian Aerospace Forces started a military operation against the Islamic State terrorist group (which is banned in Russia) in the Syrian territory at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on September 30. The air group in Syria includes more than 50 warplanes, including Su-34 and Su-24M bombers; Su-25 assault aircraft; Su-30SM fighter jets as well as Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. The Russian Navy is also involved in the military operation. The warships of the Russian Caspian flotilla delivered a massive cruise missile strike from the Kalibr-class sea-based missile system on the night to October 7.
The Russian authorities have totally excluded a possibility of any ground campaign in Syria.