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Majority of Syria’s ISIS terrorists are Russian nationals & preparing to bring fight home, Moscow experts say

Majority of Syria’s ISIS terrorists are Russian nationals & preparing to bring fight home, Moscow experts say
Article by: Paul A. Goble
Edited by: Mat Babiak

ISIS, led by militants from former Soviet republics are preparing to attack in Russia’s Muslim regions, Moscow experts say.

up to 80 percent of ISIS groups in Syria are former residents of Russia’s North Caucasus & Middle Volga republics

Many of the leaders of the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria come from Muslim regions of the Russian Federation, and they plan to launch attacks in its regions, coming in via Afghanistan and Central Asia rather than the more direct but more difficult route across Türkiye and Iran, according to Moscow experts.

Both the danger of such new jihadist attacks in Russia and this route help to explain, commentator Ruslan Gorevoy says in surveying this expert community, why Moscow has been devoting so much attention to improving security in Central Asia in the hopes of stopping ISIS militants there.

ISIS has two centers of power, Gorevoy says, the main Iraqi one and the shadowy Syrian one. Most reportage has focused on the former and largely ignored the latter. “Why? Because almost all of its leadership without exception are people from the Soviet Union,” who “speak Russian,” and who know “about all our realities.”

The ethnic makeup of Russia's Caucasus region and other former Soviet states
The ethnic makeup of Russia’s Caucasus region and other former Soviet states
[He says that] according to the Kurdistan-24 news agency, “up to 80 percent of ISIS groups in Syria are former residents of the North Caucasus and the republics of the Middle Volga.” The remaining 20 percent, it says, “are former citizens of the Soviet republics of Central Asia. These people speak Russian more often than Arabic among themselves.”

The Central Asian countries have not been able to establish tight control over their borders, even when Moscow has provided as it has in the case of Tajikistan military units. As a result, terrorists can cross them easily and with impunity, and that is the first stage in a campaign against Russia itself, Gorevoy suggests.

He points with alarm to the recent “loss” in Kazakhstan of a 50 kilogram container of Cesium 137, something officials have tried to minimize but in fact likely is the work of terrorists, including those with links to ISIS. As a result, the commentator says, ISIS is approaching Russia’s borders and with nuclear bomb-making materials.

A major reason for the large number of Central Asians and North Caucasians in ISIS, he continues, is that the group pays well. Kyrgyz members are paid on the order of 5,000 US dollars a month, more than twice what gastarbeiters from that Central Asian country could earn in Moscow or other Russian cities.

Russia's muslim regions along the Volga
Russia’s muslim regions along the Volga

When they return home, he continues, at least some of these people are prepared to continue the fight for ISIS as recent arrests and seizures of arms in Kyrgyzstan demonstate.

Russian officials have put on a brave face about this, with Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov saying that he can take care of any ISIS operatives who may appear. But experts are less sure about that, at least over the longer term.

Denis Maltsev, a senior researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, says that ISIS does not threaten Russia directly at present but that it does threaten to destabilize Russia’s neighbors. And that in turn means, he concludes, that the terrorist threat inside Russia will grow. “It is only a question of time.”

[Editor’s note: The following video of Russian-speaking ISIS members is courtesy of]

Edited by: Mat Babiak
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    February 11: The Russian proposal at the Summit in Minsk is unacceptable – president of Ukraine Poroshenko

    U.S., UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa

    February 11 – The Russian proposal at the Summit in Minsk is unacceptable – president of Ukraine Poroshenko. Russia deliberately disrupts agreements.

    February 11 – 19 Ukrainian military were killed and 78 wounded as a result of shelling near the burial mound "Hostra Mogyla" close to Debaltseve and at other locations within ATO area, – informed the spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vladyslav Seleznyov at a briefing on Wednesday morning.

    February 11 – In Donbas pro-Russian militants shelled the positions of Ukrainian troops 27 times on the night of February 11th. Most of the attacks occurred in the direction of Luhansk. 87 pro-Russian militants and 42 units of military equipment were destroyed in the last 24 hours (including 12 tanks, 14 multiple rocket launchers and 16 armored vehicles).

    February 11 – In Donetsk 6 people were killed and 8 wounded as a result of shelling at the bus station and entrance office of "Donetsk Metallurgical Plant".

    February 11 – President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko spoke about a successful military operation at Debaltseve foothold: "Several successful operations were conducted yesterday at Debaltseve foothold. They allowed us to gain control over two municipalities and the contact line", – said Poroshenko.

    February 11 – "People's Republic of Luhansk" and "People's Republic of Donetsk" demand that Ukraine stops the ATO and are requesting autonomy and new elections, – as stated in a protocol draft handed over on Tuesday night by the leaders of the terrorists to the contact group in Minsk.

    February 11 – Russian Federal TV Station "Channel 5" has broadcast a story describing how quickly and easily Russian troops can enter European capitals and threatened the West with missile attacks. Show's authors vaguely disguised this information as campaign to hold "Victory Day parades" in the EU member-states capitals.

    February 11 – Russia implemented a direct military intervention during the battle at the city of Debaltseve, – stated Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Commander of Allied Land Command (NATO).

    February 11 – Russian Foreign Ministry believes that border control issues should be should negotiated upon with the militants, which, in its turn, doesn't provide a solution to the problem, – stated Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    February 11 – Government is ready to establish martial law, should there be esalation of the situation in the east. This was stated by President Petro Poroshenko during a government meeting. Poroshenko emphasized that it is precisely "from the results of the summit that it will depend if we will be successful in stopping the aggressor by diplomatic means, or if we will switch into a very different course." I and the government, and Parliament are ready to make a decision to impose martial law in the entire territory of Ukraine," he noted.

    "In no way will I delay this decision, if the the irresponsible acts of the aggressor bring about a serious continued escalation of the conflict," he emphasized. "I am convinced that our country can protect itself and that every person will do whatever posssible in order to demonstrate that victory will be ours. However, I stress, that I am a president of peace, and thatn through army means, the situation in Donbas should not be decided," he added.

    Ukraine cannot be a buffer state

    Photo report from eastern Ukraine

    Help Ukraine seize this chance

    Economist Edward Lucas Attacks Russia's RT and Sputnik for "manufacturing lies" and those working there as "freaks and propagandists"

    Feature by BBC Monitoring on 9 February

    Russian state media have hit back strongly at British journalist Edward Lucas after he criticized them at the recent Munich Security Conference and suggested that journalists working for them should be ostracized. One top TV presenter went as far as to brand Lucas a "village idiot".

    At a panel discussion at the annual Munich Security Conference on 6 February, Lucas, a senior editor at The Economist and author of The New Cold War, accused the Kremlin's international media operations, RT (formerly known as Russia Today) and Sputnik (rebranded successor to the Voice of Russia) of "manufacturing lies".

    He said the people working for them were "freaks and propagandists", who should be the target of a campaign of ostracism, according to records of the discussion published by RT and Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.[1]

    "If anyone puts a CV on my desk and on that CV I see they worked for RT or Sputnik or one of these things, that CV is going into the bin," Lucas said. He added that people in the West were wrong to see working for the Kremlin's international media as a "first stage on the career ladder". "It's not, it's the last stage," he told the Munich conference.

    "Journalistic Joe McCarthy"

    Russian state media came back, all guns blazing, with Lucas even getting a whole slot to himself on state channel Rossiya 1's weekly current affairs news roundup Vesti Nedeli.[2]

    Outspoken host Dmitriy Kiselev, who is also director-general of Sputnik's parent company Rossiya Segodnya (which confusingly translates as Russia Today), hurled a whole fistful of epithets at Lucas – "odious British journalist", "hysterical Londoner" and even "village idiot" – while rubbishing his analysis of Russian politics and accusing The Economist of practising censorship.

    RT responded more primly, saying it was "absolutely outraged" by Lucas's "specious attacks", which, it said, were particularly "despicable" as several of its journalists were daily risking their lives to "report on stories nobody else dares to touch".[3]

    Sputnik also had Lucas in its sights, describing him in one article as a "journalistic Joe McCarthy" – a reference to the US senator who instigated a witch-hunt against Communist sympathizers in the 1950s.[4]

    Lucas himself appeared to revel in the backlash, responding to Kiselev in kind.

    "Better than a Pulitzer prize? i get prime-time abuse from vile Kremlin mouthpiece Kiselov," he tweeted.[5]

    He could also take comfort from the support of fellow Twitterati, who suggested he had got under RT's skin.

    US journalist Michael Weiss observed that Lucas had "figured out RT hacks' Achilles heel", while Times columnist Oliver Kamm said he had "badly wounded them".[6][7]

    Writer and Russia watcher Ben Judah also weighed in, saying Lucas had put the wind up RT. "Experts should refuse to appear on RT – or any other? disinformation channel", he added.[8]


    RT and its supporters also entered the fray on Twitter.

    One of its contributors, Robert Bridge, accused Lucas of being "scared to hear another side of the story", while the channel itself suggested his attack on its journalists may have been provoked by recent criticism of The Economist on its show In The Now.[9][10]

    In The Now dismissed as "absurd" a claim by The Economist that Russian state TV "conceals" bad economic news from its viewers. It showed excerpts from top TV bulletins talking about the collapse of the rouble to prove the contrary. It also said that the story of the rouble's woes and the looming recession had been well covered in Russian newspapers. To suggest otherwise, it said, was to promote "misinformation".[11]

    It called its analysis of The Economist's coverage a "tutorial on how to write a propaganda article".

    But RT's criticism of The Economist was itself guilty of omission and distortion.

    For example, it made no mention of the fact that on the day in mid December when the rouble tumbled by some 10 per cent, Rossiya 1 main news had ignored this story altogether.

    Also, it illustrated its claim about the Russian press's economic coverage with screenshots not from leading newspapers but from news agencies and websites, one of them a little known business portal from the Volga republic of Tatarstan.

    The panel discussion at the Munich conference, which also featured NATO commander and US general Philip Breedlove and Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, looked more broadly at the issue of hybrid warfare and the role played in it by different media organizations.

    According to a report by Judy Dempsey on the Carnegie Europe website, the participants said that one of the reasons why RT and its ilk have been able to make such an impact is the cutbacks at top Western international media, such as the BBC World Service and the Voice of America.[12]



    [3] See note 1










    Source: BBC Monitoring research 9 Feb 15

    P.S.: Please spread this appeal as much as possible.

    March 10: Pro-Russian collaborators have managed to create 3 “powerful tactical groups.

    Le 10 mars – "Lors des dernières 24 heures, neuf soldats ont été blessés dans la zone de l'opération antiterroriste, aucune perte." – le porte-parole de l'ATO, Andriy Lyssenko.

    Le 10 mars – Pendant la "trêve", les forces militaires russes et les collaborateurs pro-russes ont réussi à créer des "groupes tactiques de choc" dans les régions suivantes:

    le Nord – en direction de Donetsk,

    la zone côtière – en direction de Marioupol,

    Louhansk – en direction du nord de la région.

    En fait, ils ont réussi à créer une armée à partir de groupes criminels disparates.

    Le 10 mars – Les analystes américains du Bureau Strafor estiment que la Russie peut continuer à soutenir les terroristes du Donbass et occuper toute la rive gauche de l'Ukraine.

    Le 10 mars – "Le Tribunal international de La Haye pourrait etudier "la question de la Crimée", alors que toutes les différences entre la Russie et l'UE devraient être traitées en vertu du droit international." – déclaration du ministre des Affaires étrangères d'Espagne, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo lors d'une conférence de presse après sa rencontre avec le ministre des Affaires étrangères de la Federation de Russie, Sergueï Lavrov.

    Le 10 mars – "Les militants terroristes continuent à détruire systématiquement le Donbass. Près du village d'Orikhove (district de Popasna, région de Louhansk), des inconnus ont fait sauter un pont de chemin de fer." – le porte-parole de l'ATO, Andriy Lyssenko.

    Le 10 mars – Le ministre des Affaires étrangères d'Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin a déclaré que les militants terroristes ne permettent pas à l'OSCE de surveiller le processus du retrait de leurs armes lourdes.

    Le 10 mars – Le dollar est tombé à 21,7 hryvnias ukrainiennes.

    Le 10 mars – Lors d'une conversation téléphonique avec le président français, François Hollande, le président de l'Ukraine, Petro Porochenko a déclaré qu'il n'y avait aucun progrès en ce qui concerne les négociations sur la libération de tous les otages, y compris Nadia Savtchenko.

    P.S.: Faîtes circuler cet appel, SVP!