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Imam arrested in Russia’s south-west planned to set up radical religious cell — source

MOSCOW, December 31. /TASS/. An imam arrested in the city of Belgorod in Russia’s south-west allegedly had plans to create a radical religious cell, source familiar with the reasons for his detention told TASS. According to the unnamed source, during the search in the house of worship security officers seized extremist literature, in addition to weapons and explosives.

"Leader of the Peace and Creation religious organization Faizullah Ismailov, an adherent of Salafism (radical branch of Islam), planned to create a Salafi cell in Belgorod," the source said. "During the searches in the house of worship, plenty of extremist literature was seized, in addition to weapons, including of the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islam international terrorist group outlawed in Russia." According to the prosecutor’s office, "during Islamilov’s detention in his office in the house of worship on December 12 FSB officers discovered an automatic pistol, a handgun, three ball cartridges, a fragmentation hand grenade, a fusee for hand grenades and 737 grams of TNT."

According to the source, the organization’s book contains the name of Alexei Pashentsev (Abdul Malik al-Rusi), one of the leaders of the Dagestani criminal underworld, who was actively involved in organizing and carrying out terrorist attacks in Volgograd (in southern Russia). He was killed in February 2014.

The source noted that some of the parishioners of the Belgorod mosque whose spiritual leader Ismailov is take part in the armed conflict in Syria on the side of the Islamic State (IS terrorist group outlawed in Russia).