It has been reported by the Associated Press that Russia is raising alarm about Islamic extremists massing on Afghanistan’s northern border.
Alexander Bortnikov, chief of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, said on a visit to Tajikistan on Tuesday that some 5,000 fighters of an Islamic State group affiliate have gathered in areas bordering on former Soviet states in Central Asia.
Bortnikov, in comments carried by Russian news agencies, called for tighter border control to prevent a spillover.
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“Especially worrying is re-deployment of terrorist groups into northern provinces of Afghanistan,” Alexander Bortnikov told chiefs of ex-Soviet intelligence services in Dushanbe.
He warned that ‘Wilayat Khorasan’, a local Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) affiliate, had managed to gather 5,000 fighters in the area.
Terrorist cells are now infiltrating into former Soviet countries where they are forming ties with organized crime. To keep a low profile, they try to pose as refugees and migrants, according to Bortnikov.
“Islamists have suffered a series of defeats in Syria and Iraq, but they still remain a danger. Now they are trying to regroup in areas which Syrian government doesn’t control, or hide out in refugee camps,” the FSB chief noted.
The IS affiliate emerged in 2014 and refers to itself as the Khorasan Province, an ancient term for an area that includes parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia.
Russia has been expressing this concern for several years. Some experts say the Kremlin is exaggerating the number extremists to justify Russia’s outreach to the Taliban.