Hundreds of Islamic extremists were arrested in Russia over the weekend. The news video below from Russian TV concerns the large raids took place in St. Petersburg.
Many thanks to DarLink for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
An article on the same topic — which differs in some of the details, interestingly enough — was published last Saturday by Gazeta.ru. Once again, thanks to DarLink for the translation:
In St. Petersburg, the FSB and MVD Special Forces detained about 500 Muslims. The operation took place in the Apraksin Dvor mosque as well. Among the detained are Tajiks, Uzbeks, Azeris, immigrants from the North Caucasus, Egyptians, and Afghans. There is a first suspect in the “Petersburg Jamaat” case: according to the investigation, he uploaded videos of the terror attacks to the web.
On Friday evening law enforcement agencies began large-scale operation in St. Petersburg, in Apraksin Dvor Market. They searched the Tajik mosque, located on the territory of the clothing market, looking for banned literature. The quarter was surrounded, and near building number 15, where the mosque is located on the 3rd floor, hundreds of SpezNaz soldiers were waiting. The prayer had just began, but Muslims were not allowed to finish it.
During the prayer, at the threshold with a bang appeared people with guns, wearing masks and body armor.
“Akilov, out!” ordered the senior officer imperiously. Imam Abdurrahman Akilov, one of the leaders of the Tajik diaspora in St. Petersburg, did not hide, and went towards the police. He advised his co-religionists not to resist. He was taken away. After that, the rest were taken out one by one.
The mosque itself was searched. Operatives looked for extremist literature, drugs, and weapons. Meanwhile, outside the detainees were seated in the paddy wagons, after being frisked. Some knives and homemade blades were found. Around 300 people were taken to the Center for Extremism Prevention where their documents were checked. It turned out that majority were visitors from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus, and there were a few citizens of Egypt and Afghanistan. The interrogation was streamlined: once they were identified, the detainees were shown photos of wanted criminals and asked to identify them, asked for nicknames and fingerprinted. It became clear that many Muslims are not registered in St. Petersburg — those were handed over to immigration services, whose staff also participated in the event. Ten detainees had suspicious documents with evidence of fraud, twenty people had no documents, and six were found to have previously been deported from Russia. Checks lasted until late in the evening. Particularly suspicious detainees were questioned by police officers: their criminal case investigation was the cause of this large-scale operation.
“The case was opened under ‘public calls to terrorist activity or public justification of terrorism’ and ‘inciting hatred or enmity’,” reported the Criminal investigation Office.
“The searches were conducted with the purpose of removing extremist literature, weapons, drugs, items and documents related to the criminal case, as well as the perpetrators of these crimes.”
As Gazeta.ru was told by a law enforcement source, the reason for the criminal case were extremist materials in social networks. According to the source, “Petersburg Jamaat” community members posted videos justifying terrorism in the name of religion, gang leaders’ video messages, books banned in Russia, and spoke out against the constitutional order.
“There is reason to believe that some of the ‘Petersburg Jamaat’ members are associated with the radical Islamists and the criminal underground in the North Caucasus. They acted as a conspiracy,” said the source. According to him, the searches and seizures were conducted not only in the Tajik mosque, but also at other locations in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. About five hundred people were checked.
Later, the investigative committee named the first suspect in the “Case of the Jamaat.”
“The suspect’s name is Murat Sarbashev, born in 1988, native of Kabardino-Balkaria, who lives in St. Petersburg, without registration,” said the agency. “He is suspected of posting online extremist literature and videos depicting terrorist attacks in the period from October 2010 to April 2011.”
Some of Sarbashev’s accounts have not been locked yet.
The phrase “Petersburg Jamaat” was first coined in 2008, when the city began a prominent trial of the attempted murderers of Valentina Matvienko. The three defendants — 29-year-old Timur Saidgareev, 17-year-old Vladislav Baranov and 20-year-old Ravil Muratov — were accused of creating a terrorist organization. According to investigators, they wanted to blow up the governor’s car during the celebration of the national holiday in St. Petersburg. The motive was the defendants’ conviction that “the Russian authorities oppress Muslims, had occupied Muslim territories and intentionally use up their resources.” To further the implementation of their plans the defendants created a “Jamaat”.
But the jury of the St. Petersburg city court acquitted all three, and the Supreme Court upheld their verdict.
In social networks there are groups called “Moscow Jamaat”, “Volgograd Jamaat”, and “Khanty-Mansiysk Jamaat”, some of them closed to outsiders. The word “jamaat” (in Arabic — the brotherhood, community) had not previously carried a negative connotation. Its meaning changed during the Chechen war, when “Jamaat” was used to name for known Islamist terrorist groups operating in the underground.
Apraksin Dvor and Sennoy Market — the traditional place of the large Muslim prayer rooms in St. Petersburg. Every Friday Petersburg citizens witness hundreds of young men go to pray at “their mosque.” In this case it means leased premises in a former commercial building. Sometimes there are hundreds, crushed together for prayer. As a rule, they are migrants, migrant workers. They do not go to the Cathedral Mosque of St. Petersburg near the Gorky metro station for various reasons. For some, it is the differences in religious interpretation; others like to worship together with their compatriots, and the rest do not like the position of the “official mosque,” which supposedly occupied all the Islamic space of St. Petersburg. The Cathedral Mosque, in turn, had previously stated that the prayer rooms in the markets, in universities, in rented flats are arranged by illegal immigrants, and they are helped by Islamists from abroad — the radical Salafis, who are for a “war against the infidels.”
Even eight years ago, the Cathedral Mosque’s late Mufti Jafar Ponchaev told the correspondent of “Gazeta.Ru”: “Every sermon I urge our Muslims to be careful not to succumb to local Wahhabis. Even diplomats from various Islamic countries came to me and tried to convince me, some come to look for an argument, eyes burning, even grabbing their knives, they tell how they killed infidels … Nothing to brag about, I say to them, as it is said in the Quran: ‘Whoever kills a soul, he is like a murderer of all mankind.’”
Law enforcement agencies of Petersburg are also wary of prayer room mosques. The result: the annual raids, searches, security operations. For example, back in 2009, riot police conducted a search in the aforementioned mosque in Apraksin Dvor. They found there a banned book by a Saudi theologian Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi The Personality of a Muslim. Imam Abdurahman Akilov said that policemen ransacked the place, and the book does not belong to the mosque.
Also in 2009, SpezNaz, FMS and Extremism division police carried out an operation in the Sennoy Market. In a building used by the mosque they found five issues of the magazine “Al-Wai” (it is produced by an international organization “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, recognized as a terrorist organization by the Supreme Court of Russia). In addition, in the prayer room they found the book The System of Islam. It was written in the middle of the last century by a Palestinian scholar Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, the founder of “Hizb-ut-Tahrir.” Also 15 rounds from a Kalashnikov and 10 grams of marijuana were found in the mosque, but it could not be determined who they belonged to. Shamsullo Iskandarov, a citizen of Tajikistan, was convicted for the distribution of banned literature in this mosque and was given a probation prison sentence. In 2010, representatives of the center E, Economic Crime and FSB visited the prayer rooms with a search warrant on Sennoy and Apraksin Dvor markets, on Vasilievsky Island and in the children’s Islamic school on the Kharchenko street. The occasion: “unidentified person, a mailbox user on bk.ru, spread on the Internet the Book of Monotheism by theologian Muhammad al-Tamimi, the founder of Wahhabism.” This book was declared extremist by the Savyolovsky court of Moscow and included in the federal list of banned literature. As a result of the raid on Sennoy Market mosque, books, newspapers and magazines were confiscated, including those in Arabic.
|00:00||A joint raid by Russian Security forces — Federal Security Service,|
|00:03||Interior Ministry and the Federal Migration Service — in several mosques|
|00:06||of the St. Petersburg area, including Apraksin Dvor mosque, was successful.|
|00:09||It was a prayer time in the mosque, but the security forces|
|00:10||allowed the ritual to be performed to the end.|
|00:13||Close the door! Close the f****** door!!!|
|00:22||Then one of the FMS officers held talks with|
|00:24||a certain Mohammed, who was leading the worship.|
|00:27||Mohammed was asked to call for the imam of the mosque,|
|00:29||the head of the Tajik diaspora in St. Petersburg, Abdurahman Akilov.|
|00:33||It can be clearly heard in the video that Mohammed claims|
|00:35||that Abdurahman is not there; he left a week ago for Egypt.|
|00:38||Abdurahman is now in Egypt.|
|00:42||We know he is here.|
|00:43||No, Abdurahman is not here.|
|00:45||We know that he is right here now.|
|00:48||No, yesterday… last week… he left… for Egypt.|
|00:52||Then security forces begin a total review of all people in the mosque.|
|00:56||There is no resistance, but the soldiers act extremely tough –|
|00:59||the detainees are brought to the buses with the hands up behind their backs;|
|01:02||their documents and phones are seized.|
|01:04||Twenty minutes later Abdurahman Akilov is found –|
|01:07||realizing that there is no place to go, he comes out with his hands up.|
|01:15||In another area of St. Petersburg, Zanevka,|
|01:16||‘Grad’ fighters stormed a private house on Ladoga Street.|
|01:21||The soldiers advanced in full assault gear strictly|
|01:23||behind the armored car, seriously expecting armed resistance.|
|01:27||Although there was no resistance at Ladoga,|
|01:30||the most dangerous persons of interest — accused in this case –|
|01:32||were arrested there — two in the house, and three more a bit later,|
|01:34||when they came back, not expecting the security forces.|
|01:36||The St. Petersburg mosque’s imam Ravil Panchayat told ‘Rosbalt’|
|01:39||that the Apraksin Dvor mosque is not controlled by|
|01:41||the Muslim Board of St. Petersburg, it takes orders from Moscow.|
|01:46||Well, Apraksin Dvor …|
|01:48||I think every year something happens over there,|
|01:51||and every year something is found.|
|01:54||So there is nothing to be surprised about.|
|01:58||So, you have no control over this place?|
|02:02||No, we do not. They are not under our jurisdiction.|
|02:06||Interestingly, on the same day, February 8, in Dagestan,|
|02:09||a rally was held in support of the Muslims,|
|02:11||who according to the activists|
|02:13||are harassed by Russian law enforcement agencies.|
|02:15||…being tortured. They were the best of people!|
|02:17||We are going to be tortured as well.|
|02:18||It’s not going to stop unless –|
|02:20||until we unify, so help me god.|
|02:23||Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar!|