06/26/2015, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Alarm in Moscow: Russian Islamic State militants are returning home

The warning from the Federation Security Council: they are posing as tourists who have lost documents. Meanwhile, the Emirate of the Caucasus swear allegiance to ISIS and "dump" al Qaeda.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Russian militiamen who joined the Islamic State are returning home. This is the warning – described as "a looming threat" – sounded by the Russian Federation Security Council. According to information gathered by the authorities, the terrorists are coming into Russia from Turkey, posing as tourists who have lost their passports.

The Rossiskaya Gazeta newspaper quotes the deputy secretary of the Security Council, Yevgeny Lukianov, speaking at the international conference on security in Ulan-Ude. He claims the Islamic State fighters "are already coming back": they turn to Russian diplomatic missions to request documents to enable them to return home.

Almost contemporarily the Islamic State spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, stated that the group "has accepted the allegiance" of Isis militants in the North Caucasus. Thus the Muslim majority Russian region has been upgraded to the status of 'Vilayat' (province), with a 'governor' Sheikh Abu Mohammad al-Qadari. According to Russian intelligence, about 2,000 Russians and citizens of the countries of the former USSR have fought in the ranks of the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq.

"We proclaim our allegiance to the Caliph", known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the main extremist group in the area, the Caucasus Emirate, in a video on Youtube,  later re-briadcast by the specialist website Caucasian Knot. "We can testify that all the fighters in the Caucasus, in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria are united in this decision and have no differences," says the video filmed in Russian, with subtitles in Arabic. This is the first time that the Russian Caucasus has officially and uniformly sworn allegiance to IS.

According to Institute for the Study of War (ISW) analysts, IS may now start a fight with al Qaeda for influence in the region. "It is unclear whether al Qaeda continues to seek to strengthen its ties with the Caucasus Emirate in the light of the recent statements of the Islamic State or if the organization is focusing on other regions, such as Syria and Yemen", say experts .

Both the Islamic State and the Caucasus Emirate are considered terrorist groups in Russia, as also in the US and several other countries. Recently, the Russian authorities raised the alert level for the phenomenon of recruitment of Russian students in the universities of the country and have called for "strengthening cooperation" in the fight against international recruiters for extremist organizations. (M.A.)

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