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FSB chief sees threat from Islamic extremist groups

RIA Novosti

31/03/2008 14:19 KHANTY-MANSIISK, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - International terrorist organizations are attempting to shift their operations to Russia, the Federal Security Service (FSB) director said Monday.

"There have been repeated attempts by the international terrorist organizations Hizb ut Tahrir al-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to move their operations to the territory of the Russian Federation, including the Urals region," Nikolai Patrushev said.

Patrushev said security bodies have discovered over 80 active members of such organizations over the last two years in the Tyumen and Chelyabinsk regions, adding that the number of terrorist and extremist crimes in the Urals Federal District had grown in 2007.

The FSB director also said counter-terrorism measures should receive greater attention.

"This is especially urgent in the light of the coming regular Russia-EU summit due in Khanty-Mansiisk [in western Siberia in June]. Foreign experience of countering terrorism is to be taken into account," he said.

Hizb ut Tahrir, which calls itself a political party, is seeking the overthrow of authorities in Tajikistan and an Islamic state in Central Asia. Tajik secret services have repeatedly said that Hizb ut Tahrir is connected with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which aims at establishing an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley, a region stretching through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Despite this, Hizb ut Tahrir is not classified as a terrorist organization in the U.S. and the group states on its website that it seeks to achieve its goals through peaceful means. Russia, however, claims the movement has links to radical Islamist groups in Chechnya, and it has been placed on a list of banned organizations by the country's Supreme Court.

Russia has not seen a large-scale terrorist attack since the Beslan school siege in 2004, which left 333 people dead, including 186 children.

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