Six nationals of Central Asian countries were detained following a series of anti-terrorism raid by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) the Interior Ministry and National Guard in St. Petersburg, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The suspects, who came to Russia to seek employment, “have been recruiting people of Central Asian descent since 2015 in St. Petersburg to become followers of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] and Al Nusra Front, and to carry out terrorist attacks,” the committee said.
Having searched the suspected recruiters’ flat, the security services also retrieved Islamist propaganda literature and documents, which may be a piece of intelligence worthy of further investigation.
While investigators will specifically try to uncover the men’s connections, it is not yet clear if they were in contact with the prime suspect believed to have set off a suicide bomb inside the St. Petersburg Metro earlier this week, the committee said.
Russian authorities said on Tuesday a 22-year-old Akbarzhon Dzhalilov is the presumed suicide bomber who carried out the attack which killed 14 people and left 49 in hospital. Dzhalilov is said to have originally come from the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan. He had lived in Russia for several years and obtained Russian citizenship.