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The transformation of the Jihad. A brief analysis of changes in the appearance of the terrorist underground
Material posted: Publication date: 05-04-2017
On 3 April 2017 in St. Petersburg, a terrorist act once again forced experts to discuss the shortcomings of the existing system of transport security, and the deputies again spoke about the need to tighten the legislation. However, the reasons that for the first time a similar tragedy occurred on the banks of the Neva river, much deeper than the issue of metal detector or control of the Internet and mobile phones. We will try to understand them.

After a series of explosions 2013 in Volgograd and to start this week, the number of terrorist attacks in Russia has decreased, and their geographical range was limited to mostly the territory of the North Caucasus. This is largely due to the outflow of large numbers of Islamists in the middle East: in Syria and Iraq. The appeal of armed struggle for the establishment of the Caliphate under the banner of the Islamic state* was higher than the prospect of conducting underground activities in the context of the increasing efficiency of the Russian special services.

Since the Olympic games in Sochi, the FSB and other agencies, in essence, constantly working in emergency mode in connection with the conduct of a large number of major events (including international level) and the General tendency to deterioration of the operating environment against the backdrop of war in the Ukraine, and later in Syria.

However, the departure of radical Muslims (as Russian citizens and migrants from Central Asia), temporarily reduced the level of terrorist threat in Russia, initially had the opposite direction.

Many experts have warned: having combat experience, yesterday's "ISIS" sooner or later will return to Russia to recruit and train new followers (which, given the development of outreach LIH* getting bigger) and to gradually build more advanced cell built on the network principle and do not have a single center.

Beginning after September 30, 2015 of Russia's military operation in the Syrian Arab Republic risks of a resumption of terrorist acts increased throughout the country, but the first signal was the explosion of the A321 aircraft over the Sinai Peninsula.
The relative success of Russian operations in military and political terms, which was achieved during 2016, turned, however, of rising tension Russia's relations with several countries directly or indirectly involved in the Syrian war and supporting certain terrorist groups like in Syria and beyond.

It comes as the monarchies of the Persian Gulf (e.g., Qatar, Saudi Arabia) and Turkey, the resumption of active cooperation with which on certain tracks and levels of the conflict has not eliminated the contradictions.

The difference in the goals and strategies of Russia and the West at the present time did not allow to achieve a breakthrough in the military-political cooperation. Although some success have been able to achieve: the area of territory controlled by ISIS* and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, is rapidly declining. However, a side effect of military success becomes gradual transformation used terrorists tactics.

Military defeats Islamic state not only contribute to the return of militants to countries where they came from, but the revitalization of the underground groups or lone-wolf terrorists in the countries – participants of the war against "Caliphate". This can be seen in the terrorist attacks in European countries over the period of 2016-2017 years, and now in Russia.

For this reason, quite justified the opinion of some experts that the existence of a "Caliphate" in truncated compared to the present day, as well as the limited protracted war that will "ground" the radical Islamists, in a certain sense, more profitable for Russia and European countries than the achievement of unconditional military victory over ISIS.

Here it is necessary to move from the international level to what is called the operating environment, which are forced to act by Russian special services responsible for combating terrorism.

The lack of visa regime, uncontrolled migration from Central Asia combined with the high level of corruption in these States contribute to the formation of closed communities of migrants, making efficient work with this population challenging.

Moreover, the transparency of borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan makes possible free passage to Russia of the inhabitants of these States, which have the ability to illegally acquire, for example, Tajik documents. To determine how many in Russia is currently the natives of these countries under the guise of citizens of former Soviet republics, is not possible. To identify them, even in the presence of agents in the specified environment, it is also quite difficult.

Today's militants do not stand out among the crowd of attributes such appearance, as, for example, typical beards and religious clothing, they are fairly typical for the big cities, lifestyle, work in catering establishments, transport, etc.

A vivid example of the foregoing, and is received a Russian passport Jalilov.

Legalization of citizens of Central Asian States (to the point of receiving the Russian citizenship), according to representatives of the interior Ministry, to date, has become common practice. Ways and schemes to achieve this goal a lot.

Wiretapping, collection of information from technical communication channels and other operational-search activities against potential terrorists themselves is ineffective for several reasons.

First, the members of the "cell" as any other criminals, obviously suggesting that they can listen to, and therefore do not use this form of communication to discuss the details and plans of attack. In the case of single – still difficult.

Second, the technical capabilities for timely listening to a large number in the development of individuals is limited and, given the linguistic specificity, the task becomes even more complex since the number of translators, Tajik, Uzbek etc. languages is much less than required. Thirdly, itself obtained by these means information does not allow to uncover the intention of preparing the crime.

All this makes the complex legislative measures of the kind adopted in July 2016 (the so-called "Spring package"), ineffective and not comparable in relation to their costs.

In such a dead end before 11 September 2001 came the American special services have almost completely refused from conducting the operational work in the middle East, relying on technical superiority and almost unlimited possibilities for control of calls and email around the globe.

The effectiveness of protection systems in the metro and the transport industry is extremely small, and the possibilities for its improvement is small owing to the large passenger. Installation of gas analyzers, which cost, according to a military expert Oleg Valetsky, is 10-15 thousand dollars, for each station, it is not only impossible, but futile. The need to examine each bag, using the device in close proximity to the test subject, will lead to traffic congestion, and ridership will fall to the level of airports. In addition, staff need to be trained to use these technical means.

The location of the dog training posts at each station, it is impossible for the same reasons, to which is added the fact that the dog will not be able to work in conditions of a mass congestion of people and a large number of scents more than a few tens of minutes.
Thus, the detection, prevention and suppression of terrorist acts is possible only by surgery that in St. Petersburg have successfully managed to implement so far, combining, according to well-known St. Petersburg journalist Evgeny Vyshenkova operative work with the "informal methods" against the representatives of the Caucasian diasporas.

However, changing the face of the terrorist underground, which had not represented a single structure and is now composed of small groups or individuals, linked only ideologically, makes the task of integrating and opening their ideas and plans is extremely difficult.

It is not excluded that the coordination of the "terrorists" can be carried out with intelligence services of foreign States who have a rich experience of using the Islamists for their own purposes and who act as enemies of Russia in the Syrian war. We are not talking about sophisticated spyware combinations, namely, coordination, which is the message by the date of blasting, and assistance in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

By itself the attack in the form in which it took place in St. Petersburg, in the case of solving the problem for the manufacture of IEDs is not difficult to implement, and the combination of all these reasons difficult to prevent, which led to the tragedy, on 3 April 2017.

However, as the available information on the autopsy and the elimination of the city on the Neva terrorist cells in August and November 2016, the work in this direction is underway, and not without success. These conclusions are supported by the following information: about 7-10 days ago, the FSB conducted anti-terrorist exercises in the St. Petersburg metro, which revealed serious problems in the security systems, and violations are to be corrected.

With high probability it can be argued that information about preparation of a terrorist attack at the "office" was, but there was no reliable information about the place, time and manner of making, which is confirmed by the resulting media reports.

All the above allows to expect that in the future will be able, if not to avoid repetition of such events, to minimize the likelihood of their occurrence, however this will be possible only subject to the implementation of comprehensive measures: changes in the migratory policy towards the Central Asian republics to improve the work on revealing, suppression and prevention.

* Organization in respect of which the court accepted entered into legal force decision on liquidation or ban the activities on the grounds stipulated by the Federal law "On countering extremist activity"

Published: the Business newspaper "Sight". 05.04.2017

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