MOSCOW – Russian authorities have reportedly arrested more than a dozen men they claim are “armed Islamists” in Moscow.
Tuesday night Russian security forces raided an apartment in eastern Moscow, detaining 15 people they allege are members of the terror group At-Takfir Wal-Hijra. The group had been banned in Russia in 2010, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
A video of the raid, released to Russian media, showed armored police busting into an apartment and detaining the individuals, whose identities were not released. The edited footage also showed weapons and what authorities allege are multiple explosives, including what they claim are suicide belts. Authorities also reportedly found “extremist literature” in the apartment.
Officials did not release any information about the motives of the group and did not say whether they were planning any attacks, according to Russian news reports. It’s unclear if the group is connected to an Egypt-based extremist group that goes by a similar name.
Officials also made no mention of a connection to the upcoming Winter Olympics, which Russia will host in just over two months in Sochi in southern Russia. Russian security forces are on high alert ahead of the games, given the nation’s long and ongoing battle against terrorism – especially from extremists from the Caucuses just east of Sochi.
One militant leader who is fighting to establish an Islamist caliphate in Russia’s Caucasus region, Doku Umarov, has called on his followers to use “maximum force” to stop the Games.
Last month a female suicide bomber from that region detonated a bomb aboard a city bus in Volgograd, not far from Sochi. At the time, authorities said she was on her way to Moscow but, for unknown reasons, changed her route along the way. Her husband, to claimed to have built her suicide bomb, was later killed in a shootout with police.