Why Russia is immune to terrorism of the Islamic State?
Russian airstrikes in Syria go incessantly on while IS fighters and suicide bombers continue to spread from the Caucasus. Nevertheless, Russia seems so far immune to Islamist terrorism. How is it possible?
- Friday, 29 July 2016
The Russian security services have recently stated they control 220 potential suicide bombers. The director of the Federal Security Service, FSB, Alexander Bortnikov told the news agency Interfax that his men are working to "identify the suicide bomber recruiters in Russia. The problem, however, is that these professing the obsessive exaltation of suicide create a halo around the so-called martyrs of the faith”.
More than 200 people ready to blow themselves up in Russia alone are a huge number. If the data is real, we are perhaps in front of the largest database of potential suicide bombers in Europe. Yet, fortunately, Russia has so far been untouched by Islamist terrorism. Is everything about the FSB?
The war on the Islamic State
Moscow is incessantly bombing Syria, a year so far. The Russian Ministry of Defense has released dozens of video, boasting of being the only country to fight the IS. So, why the Islamic state has "only" downed the Metrojet Airbus on the Sinai Peninsula without striking targets in Russia?
Is Russia really fighting the IS? According to Bellingcat, no.
The collective of Investigative Journalism based in Leicester is so far the most reliable source on the Russian military activities in Syria. Much more of the same Russian MoD. They analyzed dozens of videos released by the MoD itself and tons of information available online with their usual OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) techniques and geotagged more than 50 strikes. The locations were always different from those declared by the Russian MoD and only one strike was targeted at an area controlled by the Islamic State
The interesting thing is that the Ministry of Defence tried to refute Bellingcat analysis, but could nothing against the mass of evidence. They then played cunning, making the term IS disappear from their press and gradually replacing it with more generic formulas as "terrorists" or "militants." Eventually, the commander of the main operating unit at the Russian Air Force headquarters said indirectly the truth, showing a map naming the targets in "areas controlled by other armed groups."
The FSB flaws
Russia is therefore not fighting the Islamic state in Syria. Doe it explain why the country is not in the gunsight of the Islamist terror?
In fact, even if it is not doing it in Syria, Russia has been fighting its war against IS, home. And, apparently, defeating it. The self-styled Caucasus Emirate, an IS affiliate, was short-lived. Since 2014, since the leaders of the Caucasian insurgency have sworn allegiance to the caliph al-Baghdadi, the response of the Russian security forces beheaded the organization, killing a leader after another. This has not protected Dagestan from terrorist attacks, but has managed to keep the threat away from the rest of Russia.
The security services have certainly merit in this. According to the data of last fall, there were at least 1,700 Russian fighters who joined the IS. A constant threat that seems to be confirmed by the data of potential suicide bombers under FSB close observation. But the Russian intelligence is not infallible. Take, for instance, the Istanbul International Airport attack, committed on June by three suicide bombers including two Russian citizens from Dagestan. It turns out then that one of them, Rakim Bulgarov, had been previously questioned by the FSB using a lie detector, judged not dangerous and released.
The truth is that we could find out all of a sudden that Moscow is not safe at all.