RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has detained 19 members of a terrorist group that was allegedly planning attacks in the North Caucasus.
The FSB said in a statement on February 17 that the roundup of suspects began on February 1 in the regions of Rostov, Krasnodar, Karachai-Cherkessia, and the Russian-controlled Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea.
It claimed they were members of an extremist group known as At-Takfir wal-Hijra (Excommunication and Exodus).
"[The group's] ideology is known as takfirism that justifies radical measures against so-called infidels, including Muslims, and its goal is to create a caliphate," the FSB statement said.
According to the FSB, its officers found weapons, ammunition, handmade explosives, and extremist literature in the detained suspects' possession.
"The detained individuals were charged with the organization of and participation in the activities of an extremist group. Ten of the suspects were sent to pretrial detention," the FSB statement said.
It could not be immediately confirmed whether the suspects are part of the group.
Russian authorities routinely announce operations to snuff out suspected Islamist cells, particularly in the south of the country.
Takfirism is the Islamist militant practice of labeling followers of other schools of Islam unbelievers.
At-Takfir wal-Hijra emerged in Egypt in the 1960s and is believed to have links with Al-Qaeda.
The group is on lists of terrorist organizations in Russia, the United States, and several other countries.
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