Terrorists no longer leaving Russia to fight in Syrian conflict, claims main anti-terrorism body

International extremist groups are no longer calling on operatives to join the war in Syria, and are instead asking them to remain in sleeper cells in Russia, a senior member of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee has said.

The revelation was announced by the first deputy of the agencys information department, Andrey Kokourov, at the Tuesday session of the Russian nationwide conference dedicated to countering terrorist propaganda among the younger generation.

The official said that extremists who remain in Russia are mostly choosing to stay in provinces and prepare for terrorist attacks. He also said that the special services had recently noted a tendency for “self-radicalization” among citizens – a process by which ordinary people develop an interest in extremist ideology without external influences.

Kokourov also mentioned the string of attacks on policemen in the Chechen Republic, which were committed by several young citizens (according to police, the youngest member of the gang was just 11). He said that it was not the only example of children joining terrorist groups. However, he did not support this statement with any examples.

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Speaking of more recent achievements in the fight against terrorism, the official said that special services and law enforcement agencies had uncovered and liquidated over 50 terrorist sleeper cells across Russia in recent months. He also said that Russian special services prevented 61 terrorist crimes in 2017, including 18 terrorist attacks that were thwarted at an early stage of preparation.

In late August, shortly before the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, a group of radicalized children and teenagers carried out several attacks on police in the Chechen Republic, including a suicide bombing. Four of the attackers were killed and one was detained, according to the Russian Investigative Committee.

The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, called the attacks “a conspiracy against the Chechen people,” and said that they were committed on orders from abroad.

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