The FSB’s center for public communications reported on Thursday that the agency and Russia’s Interior Ministry jointly liquidated the cells of an internet community called “The Guide for Joining the Islamic State” in the Tyumen, Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk regions. The community members are suspected of spreading terrorist propaganda and collecting funds for the banned Islamic State terrorist group (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), as well as recruiting new fighters and helping them reach terrorist bases abroad.
Security services seized three pistols, four hand grenades, plastic explosives and TNT, as well as detonators for them, during searches conducted in 27 locations. They also confiscated a large cache of extremist literature and videos.
Criminal cases have been launched to investigate the head of the terrorist cell and three of its members who are suspected of organizing a terrorist group and participating in one – crimes punishable by five to ten years imprisonment, as well as large fines.
According to the FSB, the total number of members in the “The Guide for Joining the Islamic State” community based in the Russian Federation, Central Asian Nations, the Middle East, and North Africa could be as high as 100,000. The community has dozens of moderators who use encryption software and internet anonymizers to conceal their identities, the agency’s press service said.