Russian security chief urges tougher laws to counter ISIS supporters

Russian security chief urges tougher laws to counter ISIS supporters
The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) believes Russia needs tougher criminal punishment for people participating in terrorist groups, including major foreign organizations such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS).

I deem it necessary that together with lawmakers we once again analyze the existing legislative base in order to make corrections… to tighten criminal responsibility for participation in terrorist activities,” Aleksandr Bortnikov said on Monday at a joint session of the Russian National Anti-Terror HQ and the Federal Operative HQ of the FSB.

At the same session the FSB director said that in 2015 Russian special services have identified over 2,900 Russian citizens who are suspected in participation in international terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. Of these 2,900 people, 198 were killed in foreign combat operations and 214 returned to Russia, where they were “put under close control,” Bortnikov noted. “Of these [214], 80 have already been convicted and 41 have been arrested,” he said.

READ MORE: Russian Muslims denounce ISIS as ‘enemies of Islam’

In total, Russian courts have started criminal cases against over 1,000 Russian citizens on charges of participating in terrorist activities outside the country’s borders. One hundred more people have been prevented from travelling abroad in order to join radical groups.

Bortnikov also told his colleagues that Russian special services were holding probes into about 1,600 private persons and legal entities over suspicion of rendering material help to IS and other radical Islamist groups.

Financial intelligence has developed a special plan to destroy the terrorists’ financial sources, and within this plan law enforcers have already completed about 5,000 checks and started 270 criminal cases, he said.

Since last December, Russia has officially designated Islamic State and the affiliated Al-Nusra Front as terrorist groups, banning all citizens from participating in these organizations and making those supporting them liable to criminal prosecution.
In addition, in March this year two major Russian Muslim unions issued fatwas against IS, branding all of its members enemies of Islam and calling for their punishment as criminals.

Last week, the Russian Public Chamber and the Muslim Spiritual Directorate for Central Russia announced the foundation of the United Muslim Popular Front for Countering ISIS. The main objective of the new group is to refute extremist propaganda and help believers distinguish true Muslim values from politicized prejudice.

READ MORE: Russian activists launch united front to fight ISIS