Counter-terrorism in Russia: FSB thwart an attack in Vladikavkaz

The press service of the Russian Federal Security Service (Federal’naja sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossijskoj Federacii – FSB) reported that security forces prevented a terrorist attack in the city of Vladikavkaz, the capital of the Republic of North Ossetia – Alania located in the North Caucasus.

According to the information released by FSB press service, the local security forces arrested an alleged militant of the Islamic State accused of preparing a violent attack (explosion) in Vladikavkaz and planning to escape in the Middle East to fight among the ranks of the terrorist organisation.  The man is a Russian citizen born in 1990 who wanted to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) against an administrative building.

During the arrest, FSB officers found components of the device in the detainee’s cache and correspondence with IS militants who were abroad. Security forces opened a case under part 2 of article 205.5 ‘Participation in the activities related to a terrorist organisation’ and, as reported by the Russian media agency Interfax, probably part 3 of article 30 and part 1 of article 205 on the ‘Attempt of organising a terrorist attack’ of the Russian criminal code.

Why this news matters? The arrest of the alleged Islamic State militant underlines how serious is the threat of jihadist propaganda in the Russian language because it might ‘win the heart’ of Russian citizens who come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.  Even though the Russian Federation has heavily fought terrorism on its territory and abroad, as demonstrated by this event, the North Caucasus still remains one of the most troublesome regions of the country where jihadist propaganda and militancy might find fertile ground for recruitment activities. Albeit the city of Vladikavkaz and the republic of North Ossetia-Alania cannot be considered jihadist or militant hotspot and terrorism and jihadist organisations have more affected neighbouring countries such as Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria, FSB arrest should alarm local security forces regarding the impact of Islamic State propaganda in the area.