Moscow- Russian law enforcement agencies are conducting special operations in the recently annexed Crimea. Operations are meant to hunt down and eradicate Hizb ut-Tahrir terrorist sleeper cells and extremists.
Security forces are taking strict measures as Crimea authorities continue to warn of the dangers of foreign forces seeking to infiltrate the peninsula. Security operations have mainly zeroed in on Bakhchisaray city, located in central Crimea. No arrests were officially announced.
“Crimea’s law enforcement agencies are conducting a special operation to weed out the extremist organization in the city of Bakhchisaray,” Zaur Smirnov, Chairman of the Crimean Committee for Inter-ethnic Relations told TASS on Thursday.
“Law enforcement officials are carrying out a number of special investigative activities to identify Hizb ut-Tahrir activists. We have repeatedly warned Crimean residents that external forces will explore any possible way to penetrate into Crimea, so law enforcement’s task is to thwart these efforts,” Smirnov said, adding that at the moment he has no information on arrests during the course of the operation.
TASS earlier reported that 11 suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir followers involved in the activities of the organization’s local cells had been detained in Crimea in 2016. Two of them have been convicted in Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
Five other suspects were placed under arrest on October 13, 2016. They were charged under Section 205.5 of Russia’s Criminal Code (involvement in a terrorist organization’s activities).
Meeting with top security officers, Head of the Moscow police, Oleg Baranov, said that in cooperation with the Russia Federation security agency (formerly known by KGB), eight terrorists plotting for terror against Moscow were arrested last year. He also highlighted that the thwarted attacks were planned for the eve of parliamentary elections last fall.