Russian passport found in Syria leads RT to ISIS militant’s home (EXCLUSIVE)
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) recruits its followers and potential fighters from across the entire world, with many of them bringing their whole families to Syria or Iraq, only to find their final resting place there.
After the liberation of the town of Shaddadi, located in the Syrian province Hasakah from IS jihadists, an RT Documentary team traveled to the area and had the chance to examine piles of documents that had been left behind.
Amid the trove, a number of foreign IDs were discovered by Kurdish forces, including passports of several Russian citizens. One of them, belonging to Alex (his name has been changed due to security reasons), has been tracked by RT’s correspondent Maria Finoshina all the way to its owner’s birthplace – the city of Volgograd in central Russia.
The son of a respected professor might have been called a paragon of success, with his science degree, a good job, a loving wife and three children. Therefore, it came as a shock for Alex’s dad when he took his family and joined Islamic State terrorists in Syria.
His father blames himself for being blind to his son’s plans and for trusting Alex when he announced it that he had been planning to move to Germany. Now it is believed that Alex and his wife, Tamara both lost their lives fighting for the jihadists in Syria.
“He ended up there along with his wife, his young children, and what happened to them I don't know,” the father told Finoshina. “I tried to make him understand, I said: ‘Aren't you scared that your children, my grandchildren, will be killed for their organs?”
Alex converted to Islam about ten years ago, according to his father, who stressed that any move to join the terrorists has little to do with the Muslim faith.
“He converted to Islam a decade ago. One Egyptian, who was studying at the medical faculty and went to the gym with him, got him hooked,” his father said. Meanwhile Tamara “wasn't really into all that (Islam), she did it all for him,” according to her friend.
Alex attended the Kirovsky district mosque in Volgograd, but several RT requests of a phone interview with the imam were left unanswered. Even on site Finoshina wasn’t able to talk with imam Rustam Yakubov who might have been responsible for recruiting Alex.
It turned out that the man was no longer working at the mosque. When RT requested an interview through a mediator the imam refused, saying that he “is tired of all of it.”
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Yakubov had been the imam at Kirovsky district mosque for over 10 years. It has seen several police raids and has been consistently watched by security forces.
“There is this one mosque in Volgograd – its imam and his friends have been doing certain kinds of work. Their aim is to recruit young people to ISIS,” Sultan Khadji Abibakrov, the head of Volgograd region’s Muslim Union, said.
“They take quotes from the Koran and take them out of context – and in the end we get ‘let’s fight against infidels.’ Unknowing people hear it and think this is from the Koran – and so they believe they have to kill,” he explained.
“It’s not about Islam, it's a disease,” Alex’s father agreed. He called the anti-terrorist operation in Syria, launched by Russia last September, a “wise and reasonable move.”
When asked if he understood that this operation was effectively carried out against his own son, the father’s reply was:“Yes, I do understand.”
ISIS has deployed millions of dollars to organize online and in person recruitment campaigns worldwide, mostly focusing on outcast youths who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the twisted jihadist ideology.
Besides their social media outreach, the terrorists use numerous chat services to get hold of their victims. Their cells also operate in Muslim communities and religious centers. Some recruitment is also done through family and friends, and always under a false pretext.
A complex network helps recruits organize their travel from international destinations into Syria, usually via Turkey. Besides fighters, Islamic State is actively recruiting women who are willing to marry their fighters.
Meanwhile those who eventually return home pose a direct threat to their countries. Europe is especially worried about the trend, as it is estimated that over 27,000 European fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria since 2011.
According to the research, conducted by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) almost 4,300 foreign fighters from the EU joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and about 30 percent of them already returned to their home countries.
Russia came to Damascus’ aid in September, 2015 partly because of its desire to fight terrorists in Syria and to prevent them from returning home. At the start of the campaign, Vladimir Putin announced that an estimated 7,000 Russian terrorists were fighting in Syria.
When the partial withdrawal of the Russian forces was announced last month, the Russian Defense ministry said that over at least 2,000 Russian ISIS members were destroyed in the five months of the air campaign in Syria.