2017-04-04 18:25:00

St. Pete terror suspect may have been recruited by Islamists in 2017 during one-month return to Kyrgyzstan - source

Moscow, April 4, Interfax - Kyrgyz native Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, who is suspected of committing the terror attack in the St. Petersburg metro on Monday, had been recruited by Islamist emissaries after travelling to his home country for one month in February 2017, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax.

After completing a secondary education in Kyrgyzstan, Dzhalilov moved to St. Petersburg, the source said. "He went to college and helped his father, who had earlier settled in [St. Petersburg], working in the car-service business," the source said.

Until lately, nothing has been known about Dzhalilov's links with radical Islamist organizations. "However, this past February, the young man traveled to Kyrgyzstan for about a month and returned from there a completely different man. He became unsociable and closed. Law enforcement agencies have assumed that Dzhalilov was recruited by extremists," the source said.

After returning to St. Petersburg, Dzhalilov was on the law enforcement's radar, even though he had no serious conflicts with the police and security services. "His only wrongdoing was not having paid fines for violating traffic rules, and court bailiffs were looking for him," the source said.

Earlier Dzhalilov was described by his parents' neighbors as "a young man who had literally 'golden hands', he could do any work, and would do it very well."

"Their family moved to this area, Amir-Timur, in the suburb of Osh, five or six years ago, his father had already been working in Russia, so Akbarzhon himself renovated and fitted out the house in which they are living now," one neighbor told Interfax.

When he was still at school, Dzhalilov started working as a tinsmith, repairing trucks, and was in good books and had his own customers.

The young man was the eldest son in the family, he has a young sister and brother, the neighbor said. "They are very good-minded and quiet family, the father used to go to the mosque on Friday, but none of them were ever religious fanatics," he said.

The head of the family took Akbarzhon to Russia when he was 16 years old, but a while ago the father returned to Kyrgyzstan, having left his son behind, in Russia. "It is possible that the fact he remained in Russia alone made him vulnerable, he may have come under the influence of recruiters, but no one knows this for sure, the guy had always been very obedient and ready to help," the family neighbor said.

Earlier, the Kyrgyz National Security Committee told Interfax that the possible perpetrator of the attack in the St. Petersburg metro was a native of Osh and now Russian citizen Dzhalilov, born 1995. He obtained Russian citizenship in 2011.

"Kyrgyz security services are in contact with the security services of the Russian Federation on the subject of what happened in St. Petersburg," the agency said.