Senior diplomat: All Russian citizens who fight for ISIS will face criminal prosecution
Over 4,000 Russian citizens are currently fighting on the terrorists’ side in Syria, but all of them will face criminal charges if they return home, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov has said.
“Russian law enforcement agencies currently possess information about over 4,000 Russian citizens who have left our country in order to participate in armed formations [in Syria],” the diplomat said at the OSCE conference on counter-terrorism.
He noted that criminal cases had been started in absentia against almost 3,000 of these people and around 3,700 had been put on wanted lists.
“Despite the fact that many terrorists speak about their Russian origin, they demonstrate little drive to return in our country, where they would practically inevitably face a harsh and just punishment. More often, they choose some comfortable territories in Europe where they can hide with relative success,” Syromolotov stated.
The Russian diplomat emphasized that the special services considered female terrorists equally dangerous with the male ones, noting that in many cases women formed the most radicalized part of the whole terrorist underground.
“In most cases pledging full loyalty to the terrorist group is a condition for those who want to join, including the fighters’ wives. We think that these women should not only be targeted in various prevention operations, but also feel the principle of inevitability of punishment,” he said.
The Russian official also warned that, despite the fact that the war against terrorism in Syria had practically been won, the terrorist groups had not given up the fight and world nations should expect new hotbeds of extremism appearing in various places, including the OSCE countries. He said that the “absolutization of the freedom of expression” exercised by Western nations was aiding the terrorists in putting their plans into life.
“Information and communication technologies and internet become the main channels of radicalization of the population and recruiting new members in terrorist organizations… We propose to start a detailed discussion of the concept of ‘voluntary counter-terrorist self-restraints’ for mass media and officials,” Syromolotov told his OSCE colleagues.
Another counter-terrorist project proposed by Russia is a joint international database containing information about people suspected of involvement with terrorist groups and their movements.