Russia arrests over 100 Muslim activists

Describing the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir as a “terrorist cell,” Russia’s FSB security service has arrested 121 members of the party.

Russian President Vladmir Putin
has authorised a crackdown on
“terrorist cells”

Footage of the Friday raid was aired on NTV television – showing dozens of young men lined up against a brick wall as armed soldiers in camouflage stood guard.

“These are terrorists who want to overthrow the existing regime by military means,” the FSB’s top spokesman, Sergei Ignatchenko, told the channel.

Hizb at-Tahrir is a Sunni Muslim group operating around the world and calling for the establishment of a global Islamic state based on the early Islamic model of the Caliphate.

In recent years it has become increasingly popular in Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan, where the authorities have used brutal methods to repress it jailing thousands of its supporters. 

The group, which has no history of violent activity, was added to Russia’s blacklist of 15 terrorist organisations in February.

Quoting an FSB spokesperson, the French news agency AFP reported that 55 people were arrested in the raid. But this differed from Ignatchenko’s figure of 121.

“They were hiding on the grounds of a Moscow factory, where they were arrested,” Ignatchenko said, without providing details on the other 66 arrests.

One of the detainees from the raid included Hizb at-Tahrir leader, Kyrgyz national Alisher Musayev. An FSB spokesperson said 100 grams of explosives, three grenades and 15 of the group’s leaflets were also found.

Tajik member of Hizb Tahrir, Akram Dzhalolov was also arrested, in addition to 400 grams of explosives, two detonators, 38 publications and two pamphlets about the party, said the FSB.

Russia has justified its crackdown down on Muslim groups by repeatedly stating they are targeted by international terror groups.

The FSB’s claims that explosives were found must be treated with extreme caution since Hizb at-Tahrir is an avowedly non-violent group which advocates peaceful change.

Hizb at-Tahrir was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem and now has branches all over the world. It counts thousands of supporters in the former Russian republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

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