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Special operation underway to ferret out Hizb-ut-Tahrir extremists in Crimea

There is currently no information on arrests during the course of the operation

SIMFEROPOL, January 26. /TASS/. Crimea’s law enforcement agencies are conducting a special operation to weed out the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist organization in the city of Bakhchisaray on Thursday, Zaur Smirnov, Chairman of the Crimean Committee for Inter-ethnic Relations, informed TASS.

"Law enforcement officials are carrying out a number of special investigative activities to identify Hizb ut-Tahrir activists. We have repeatedly warned Crimean residents that external forces will explore any possible way to penetrate into Crimea, so law enforcement’s task is to thwart these efforts," Smirnov said, adding that at the moment he has no information on arrests during the course of the operation.

TASS earlier reported that 11 suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir followers involved in the activities of the organization’s local cells had been detained in Crimea in 2016. Two of them have been convicted in Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don. Five others were placed under arrest on October 13, 2016. They were charged under Section 205.5 of Russia’s Criminal Code (involvement in a terrorist organization’s activities).

Background on Hizb ut-Tahrir

Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (the Party of Islamic Liberation) is an international religious and political organization founded in 1953. Its goal is to remove all non-Islamic governments and bring back Muslims to the "truly Islamic way of life."

Russia’s Supreme Court banned Hizb ut-Tahrir in 2003 designating it as a terrorist organization.

In April 2016, Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea’s then Prosecutor-General who is currently a member of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament), told TASS that a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell had operated in Crimea for many years. The organization was not outlawed when Crimea was part of Ukraine.