Russia says detained senior Islamist militant who planned Moscow region attack

MOSCOW Fri Jun 7, 2013 3:07am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police detained the alleged head of a disbanded Islamist cell that had planned a series of attacks in Moscow, Russia's counterterrorism agency said on Thursday.

Yulay Davlatbayev was arrested in Moscow's Mytishchinsky district by special forces from the Federal Security Service, said the Federal Security Service, which released photographs of his arrest early on Thursday.

Putin has ordered security to be stepped up ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which will be held near the North Caucasus mountains where Islamist insurgents wage daily violence to turn the region in to an Islamic state.

Russian officials say Davlatbayev ran a cell of the Islamic Party of Turkestan, a group Russian police say they smashed in a shootout last month.

Officials said the group had been planning attacks in the capital Moscow, including on May 9 when Russia celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two.

The Anti-Terrorism Committee, which coordinates Russia's counterterrorism efforts and reports directly to Putin, said Davlatbayev's group had been to the Afghan-Pakistan border to train in explosives and had fought NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Police said they found explosives in the men's apartment in the Moscow region city of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, and that Davlatbayev had evaded police by taking a job as a taxi driver in Moscow.

FSB Chief Alexander Bortnikov has warned that the Islamic Group of Turkestan is just as dangerous as Al Qaeda, however, some security analysts say its aims and reach are poorly understood.

Security analysts say the group may have ties with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which the United States has designated as a foreign terrorist organization. That group wants to establish an Islamic state in the former Soviet republic, which borders Afghanistan.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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