The civil war in Syria, which has been going on for two years, creates quite real threats to the security of Russia and the southern countries of the CIS. The fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition involved hundreds of citizens of the republics of the former USSR, who, upon returning to their homeland, are fully capable of becoming a headache for the security forces.
Back in November last year, official Damascus published lists of foreigners killed during the hostilities, in which the names of 142 people from 18 countries of the world, including 42 filed with Saudi Arabia, 24 - Libya, and also Afghans, Tunisians, Egyptians, Qatari, Lebanese, Turks , three Chechens and one Azerbaijani. Most of them, according to Syrian media, are members of Al-Qaida or joined after they arrived in Syria, where they got through Turkey or Lebanon. Information about participation in hostilities of people from the CIS appeared earlier.
In August, the death of the son of a famous Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelayev Rustam in Syria was reported, and in October, Syrian television reported the death of Abu-Bara Chechensky, who held the position of 3-second Deputy of the Brigade of Muhajirs.
According to the representative of the National Unity Committee of Syria in Russia, Philippe Sarraf, among the foreigners fighting in Syria, not financial, but ideological and religious motivation prevails. “It's even worse than al-Qaida.” They belong to her left wing. In fact, there are several tens of thousands, ”he said in an interview with the Internet-based newspaper“ Vzglyad ”,“ 142 people reported by the authorities, ”those who could be identified. The bodies of the fallen foreign fighters are doused with kerosene and set on fire so that they cannot be identified, because they are easy to distinguish from the Syrians. Many do not even speak Arabic. Among them are Afghans, Chechens, Uzbeks ... ”. Among the participants in the hostilities, as the newspaper notes, there can be not only representatives of the Caucasian peoples of the Russian Federation and people from Central Asia, but also ethnic Slavs.
The participation of Caucasians and Slavs in the fighting in Syria is documented. In October, a video was published on Youtube’s video portal recording the shelling by the militants of the opposition base of the 46 regiment of the Syrian paratroopers near the city of Atareb. In the caption to the video with the logo of the "Brigades of Islam", it says that the Sham battalion of muhajirs is fighting for the "46 base". The gunman who fires repeats “Bismill!” After each shot (the formula with which all suras of the Qur'an begin except the ninth; is pronounced during prayer, before beginning any important matter, written at the beginning of letters, official documents, etc. ). At the same time, the man behind the scenes in Russian speaks to the militant: “Everything, halas, is over,” and another voice with a Caucasian accent comments: “Oh, come on, come on!” “Oh, see, it’s killing.” The first voice adds “Shoot, Hamza!”, The second adds “Target in a flank!”, With which the first agrees “In the flank, everything, the last bullet remained”. The fighting for the base of the 46 regiment took about two months, on November 19 of 2012, it fell.
In the spring of this year, the participation of citizens of the republics of the former USSR in the fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition was officially confirmed. On April 8, the head of the Commonwealth Anti-Terrorist Center Andrei Novikov told Interfax that dozens of citizens of Russia and the CIS countries are fighting in Syria. On the Russian side, residents of the North Caucasian republics are participating in the hostilities, in respect of which, according to him, “necessary preventive measures” are being taken. According to the CIA, from July 2012 to May 2013, 280 foreigners were killed in Syria, including 60 citizens of Libya, 47 - Tunisia, 44 - Saudi Arabia, 32 - Jordan, 27 - Egypt, 20 - Lebanon, and also 5 exits Chechnya, 4 - from Dagestan and another 7 - from other regions of Russia.
In early June, the FSB director Alexander Bortnikov said that in Syria, about 200 citizens of Russia, who mostly come from the North Caucasus and are members of the “Caucasian Emirate” group, are fighting.
18 June Argumenty.ru, citing information from the Lebanese television channel Al-Manar, reported that more than 500 Russian citizens were killed in Syria, including 439 Chechens and 188 residents of other North Caucasian republics.
On the side of the Syrian opposition, citizens of other post-Soviet states that are part of the zone of the traditional spread of Islam are also actively fighting. In many of them there is a difficult political and economic situation, and the return of militants who have gained combat experience can complicate it noticeably. In April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan reported that at least five citizens from the ages from 18 to 36 had left for Syria to fight. In May, Radio Ozodi (the Tajik service of Radio Liberty) confirmed that natives of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are fighting in the ranks of the rebels. According to him, recently three Syrian Tajiks were killed in Syria, and the Kyrgyz security services returned home to two Kyrgyz who fought on the side of the "rebels". It clarifies the "Ferghana.ru", the citizens of Kyrgyzstan were returned home as a result of active work with the participation of close relatives and deputies of the Zhogorku Kenesh (Supreme Council). 9 and 23 May AA returned to Kyrgyzstan. Jalalov, 1978 year of birth, and Tashbaltaev AM, 1984 year of birth, which after preventive conversations were transferred to parents. Both of them are natives of the city of Kyzyl-Kiya, located in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan. It is worth noting that residents of the southern regions, which traditionally have a higher level of Islamization of the population, strive to make war in Syria.
In May, the information about the death in Syria of three citizens of Tajikistan was confirmed by the representative of the State Committee for National Security Eom Melikov. Another 11 Tajiks according to his data in recent years have been killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the beginning of this year, the 9 wives of Tajiks killed abroad were returned to the republic. According to the deputy chairman of the GKNB, Mansurjon Umarov, his department has information about the participation of Tajiks in the Syrian civil war, although their exact number is unknown. “As a rule, these people underwent special training outside the republic,” he noted, “and the route of their transfer to Syria is traditional - in transit through one of the third countries.”
23 May at a meeting with young people expressed concern over the prospect of involvement in the activities of Islamist organizations of Tajiks who went abroad and the President of the country Emomali Rahmon.
“Young people and adolescents go abroad, they enter there in semi-underground religious educational institutions and become easy prey for fanatics,” he stressed. To prevent such incidents, it was forbidden to train citizens of a country in foreign religious institutions. Nevertheless, according to some data, in underground foreign madrassas continues to be trained up to 1000 citizens of Tajikistan.
One can only guess at the question of how many residents of the Central Asian republics are really fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition. According to Pravda, published by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, dozens, if not hundreds of inhabitants of the region, who are recruited in mosques, are fighting in the ranks of militants. In April, the deputy of the Kyrgyz Parliament from the opposition Ata-Zhurt party, Dastan Zhumabekov, said that parents of young people from Osh Oblast addressed him, telling that their children were being recruited from mosques, after which they left for Syria to fight. A few days later, the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed this information, specifying that seven people had left for Kyzyl-Kiya only to Syria, and 15 natives of the republic are in Turkey and can also go to civil war. In addition to the Batken region, information appeared about the facts of recruitment of residents of the Aravan and Nookat districts of the Osh region, which, apparently, began this spring. According to Mametbek Myrzabayev, the head of the department for international relations, analytics and religious organizations of the State Commission for Religious Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, the recruited Kyrgyz began to leave for Turkey on March 20, and the sources of funding for their trip are still not clear. In addition, Washington recently hosted a presentation of a joint report by the Institute of the Middle East and Flashpoint Global Partners, which refers to the death of a citizen of Uzbekistan who fought in the opposition.
According to Argumentov.ru, the number of Uzbeks killed in Syria has already reached 40 people.
23-24 June, the Russia-1 and Russia-24 TV channels showed the story of Ravshan Gazakov, a citizen of Turkmenistan, who was captured by Syrian troops during the Northern Storm operation and was the commander of the bombers in one of the units of the Al- Qaida ”in Aleppo. “Initial training was held near Ashgabat in the detachment of Sheikh Murad, after he was transferred to Istanbul,” he said during the interrogation. “There, our group was met by the curator from Al-Qaeda, I don’t know his name, and sent us to the camp border with Syria. There we were taught to make bombs, detonators, set charges. The instructors were different, many from the former USSR, from Europe, Arabs, from Jordan and Qatar. Then we crossed the border and made bombs near Aleppo. ” On the laptop captured from R. Gazakov, there are video frames, where he escorts his subordinate to death, setting the task to blow himself up at an army checkpoint near the city prison of Aleppo. With this task, the bomber coped.
The day after the release of the story, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry declared it to be misinformation, arguing that “reports of this kind, based on inaccurate information, do not correspond to the spirit of positively developing Turkmen-Russian relations, are a violation of elementary norms of journalistic ethics and are viewed by the Turkmen side as attempts to misinform the audience ". Ferghana.ru, meanwhile, notes that the videotape of interrogation of Turkmen “jihadists” in Damascus was published on YouTube YouTube 14 this June. In addition to R. Gazakov himself, there are four people in the frame who, as they explain, came from Turkmenistan to “conduct jihad for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria” and were detained near Aleppo. The Turkmen secret services were aware of the detention of citizens of the republic in Syria even before this story was shown on Russian television. A few weeks ago, officers of the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan were sent to Turkey to search for compatriots detained for violating the visa regime. According to the publication, underground Wahhabi cells exist in Turkmenistan itself, and more recently they have been intensifying.
According to some reports, participants in the hostilities in Afghanistan and the Middle East periodically return to the republic for treatment and rest, contributing to the spread of the Wahhabi version of Islam at home.
On the territory of Turkmenistan, there are even entire auls of “Wahhabis”, where alcohol, satellite dishes are prohibited, mutual aid offices, “morality police”, etc., operate.
One of the main suppliers of extremists for the CIS countries is Afghanistan. In June, a joint operation of government troops and NATO was conducted on the territory of the Afghan province of Kunduz bordering with Tajikistan, as a result of which 20 militants were killed and 5 people from Central Asian states were detained. All of them turned out to be participants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who underwent training in North Waziristan and subsequently found themselves as mercenaries on the border with Tajikistan. In the past three years, it was precisely the border provinces that became their concentration site, which, according to Tajik analysts, is by no means accidental. "They are located in Badakhshan, Kunduz, that is, along the entire perimeter of the Tajik-Afghan border," said the director of the Center for Research in Afghanistan and the region, Kosimsho Iskandarov, in an interview with the Voice of Russia, "There are forces, including foreign states, that can seriously use these groups to create just a crisis situation in the region. There is a lot of talk about the Fergana Valley project. One of the American colonels said that if the situation in Fergana deteriorates, the Americans will definitely intervene. That is, a crisis situation is created, and then intervention follows. ”
The danger that comes from the citizens of the post-Soviet states that are fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition was rather late by the special services.
Moreover, most of them, apparently, are still in Syria, where active hostilities continue. However, the situation in many regions of the former USSR after their return can change dramatically, and not at all for the better.