2015-11-10 14:26:00

Some 7,000 natives of ex-Soviet states among ISIL militants (updated)

Sochi, November 10, Interfax - As many as 30,000 foreigners, including 7,000 natives of former Soviet republics, are fighting within the ranks of the so-called Islamic State group, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Deputy Director Yevgeny Sysoyev has said.

"There were up to 80,000 people, among them 50,000 in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq, within the ISIL ranks before the middle of 2015. They include some 30,000 foreign militants. Approximately 7,000 people from former Soviet countries, including Russia, have joined this organization," Sysoyev told a conference of the International Association of Prosecutors in Sochi on Tuesday.

Recently, Islamic State leaders "have managed to seriously spread their influence, broaden their geography and secure recognition of their leadership in the global jihad on the part of the majority of regional and international terrorist organizations, pushing al Qaeda to the sidelines," he said.

"Until the middle of this year [prior to the start of the Russian Aerospace Forces' air campaign in Syria], Islamic State controlled large swathes of Syria and Iraq with a population of eight million people," Sysoyev said.

When assessing the threat of radical Islamist movements spreading to other parts of the world, the FSB deputy head mentioned the so-called Emirate Khorasan, which was proclaimed in Afghanistan's northern Khorasan Province.

"ISIL has established its control over the northern Khorasan Province. In January this year, its [ISIL] leaders proclaimed the establishment of an emirate carrying the same name. According to these plans, Afghanistan should become a 'launch pad' for creating an Islamist quasi-state within the borders of ancient Khorasan, where, along with Afghanistan, the territories of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and China's north-western provinces will be included," Sysoyev said.

"The most threatening situation can now be observed on Afghanistan's border with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan," he added.