ISIS threatens stability of former Soviet Republics, says Russian spy chief

ISIS Afghanistan

Thousands of Islamic State fighters are operating in Afghanistan’s northern border regions and are attempting to destabilize former Soviet Republics with substantial Muslim populations, according to Russia’s domestic spy chief. This warning was issued by Alexander Bortnikov, director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which functions as Russia’s primary counter-terrorism agency. Bortnikov made these remarks during a visit to the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, for a meeting of the heads of intelligence agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an intergovernmental organization comprised of former Soviet Republics in the Eurasian region. The meeting was reportedly held behind closed doors, but Russia’s government-owned news agency TASS carried a summary of Bortnikov’s remarks.

The Russian intelligence chief said that, with the aid of the intelligence services of CIS states like Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and others, the FSB was able to uncover and suppress eight Islamic State cells in the past year, which operated in the Central Asian region. However, the reach of the CIS countries does not extend to Afghanistan, said Bortnikov, where as many as 5,000 Islamic State fighters are congregating along the country’s border with three CIS states, namely Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Many of these fighters are Turkmens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, and other citizens of CIS states, who previously fought with the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, and now form integral components of the Islamic State’s fighting force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It appears that the Islamic State is now attempting to exploit the mountainous and porous borders of northern Afghanistan in order to destabilize neighboring countries, he said. These fighters intend to exploit “migrant and refugee flows [in Central Asia] in order to operate covertly from the Afghan battle zones to neighboring countries” and from there possibly to Russia, according to Bortnikov.

These covert activities of Islamic State fighters have already caused an escalation of tensions in the region and can be expected to continue to do so, as these groups radicalize and co-opt Muslim communities in CIS countries, noted Bortnikov. He added that popular responses to Islamist radicalization are prompting increasing incidents of “anti-Islamic terrorism”, which further-fuel religious and ethnic tensions in the region. As a reminder, last week the Islamic State announced that its so-called Khorasan Province fighters would be amalgamated into a new armed group calling itself Islamic State – Pakistan Province. Earlier this month, the group also proclaimed the establishment of a new overseas province in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state, called “wilayah al-Hind” (province of Hind). In addition to these two forces, there are currently an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan’s Pashtun regions.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 May 2019 | Permalink

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Moldomusa Kongantiyev

Kongantiyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
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Kremlin dismayed after US retains Kyrgyz air base

Bakiyev

Bakiyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The recent decision by the Kyrgyz government to halt the eviction of US forces from the Manas air base has been hailed as a foreign policy success for the US government, and a rare defeat for Russia’s resurgence. Russian foreign ministry officials admitted earlier this week that the Kyrgyz reversal was a setback for Moscow’s plans and hinted that the Kremlin had been deceived by the government of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. As intelNews reported last February, Kyrgyzstan had announced that it would expel US forces from Manas, which experts have described as the “primary logistics hub” for the US military’s operations in Afghanistan. The decision of the Kyrgyz government came soon after it received an unprecedented $2.2 billion in Russian loans and aid. But President Bakiyev changed his mind after the US government agreed to “triple its rent for Manas”, and –it appears— cease its criticism of Kyrgyzstan’s rapidly deteriorating human rights record. Read more of this post

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Rossiya TV

Rossiya TV

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
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