Russia’s FSB chief warns IS, Al-Qaeda could merge | Eurasia Diary -

27 March, Wednesday

Russia’s FSB chief warns IS, Al-Qaeda could merge

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Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov has warned that the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terror groups (outlawed in Russia) could merge.

"International terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State could unite their potentials and we view this as a rather serious step, which may result in numerous negative consequences. There are a number of signs indicating their possible merger," Bortnikov told the 17th meeting of the heads of special services, security agencies and law enforcement bodies.

"Both international terrorist organizations use a similar ideological basis and common manpower for replenishing each other’s units. Many terrorists, despite the facts of armed conflicts between the Al-Qaeda and the IS group’s units, are switching from one terrorist structure to another being guided by the motives of personal benefits, changes on the battlefield and other reasons," he noted.

Eurasia Diary reports citing to TASS, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev also believes that "the switch to the network organization model based on regional branches may push the IS group’s leadership to rejoin Al-Qaeda, which is interested in replenishing its forces and means for bolstering terrorist activity."

"The emergence of this alliance poses a significant threat to international security since it allows these two terrorist organizations to control more efficiently the activity of their regional branches and affiliated structures," Patrushev told the meeting.

There are more than 200 terrorist groups in the world, but only five of them committed about one-third of terror attacks in 2017, Patrushev said.

"There are more than 200 terrorist groups currently in the world," he noted. "Among the largest of them are IS, Al-Qaeda, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, Boko Haram and Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham. The named groups committed about one-third of the total number of terror attacks in 2017."

About 100 states were affected by terrorism in 2017-2018, the Security Council secretary said. "The Middle East, Afghanistan, South and Southeast Asia and the African Continent remain major terrorist hotspots," he stressed. The imminent liquidation of the remaining terror flashpoints in Syria and Iraq makes foreign mercenaries leave these zones, returning to their countries, or create new sources of instability, Patrushev said. "Terrorists still chiefly target countries with weakened governance structures, vast hardly controlled territories, sharp confessional or ethnic contingencies and a high level of poverty and unemployment," the Russian Security Council secretary noted.

Militants are changing their tactics by joining local radical groups, he said. "Closed national communities and groups can be seen emerging across the world, in which organized criminal groups are often created," he added. "So-called sleeper cells are also operating, which recruit new members and collect funds externally, without violating laws."

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