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Alleged IS supporters arrested in Chechnya

1 February 2017

A group of young men allegedly intending to travel to Syria in order to join the Islamic State were detained in Chechnya yesterday. All the detainees came from Shelkovsky District in northeastern Chechnya.

According to a source in the republic’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the detainees have already confessed to the charges, and an investigation is underway.

The young men in their late twenties were peers and neighbours. According to the investigators, they discussed religious subjects among themselves using online messaging platforms. After the investigators gained access to their accounts, they were able to identify them as potential victims of extremist propaganda. They established that the young men often discussed the need to swear a bayat (oath) to the leader of the Islamic State.

The group was led by certified lawyer Shamil Umalatov, which he admitted during his initial interrogation. The police announced that he had been previously suspected of supporting radical Islamic movements. Last year he was detained and released after receiving a warning.

The men face up to five years prison time if they are found guilty.

After recent armed attacks on law enforcement agents in Chechnya, the authorities have intensified their efforts to identify and eliminate people supporting the Islamic State. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has given strict instructions to intensify work in this direction. Security forces have been attempting to gain access to closed accounts and groups in online social networks in order to find potential supporters of radical Islamic movements.

Similar detentions took place in the neighbouring Nadterechny District of Chechnya, where police detained six people.