Russia is ramping up efforts to counter terrorim at home as evidence grows that a bomb may have downed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt.
Officials said they are prepared for reprisals from sympathizers of Islamic State after President Vladimir Putin ordered air strikes against militants in Syria.
Bloomberg is reporting that even if an attack on Russians abroad wasn’t among their most likely scenarios, the loss of 224 lives in the Metrojet crash is underlining the importance of keeping a simmering domestic insurgency under control.
“We need to ring the alarm bells, there’s a significant increase in the level of risk,” said Rizvan Kurbanov, a member of parliament for Dagestan, a North Caucasus region that’s experienced some of Russia’s worst terrorism.
“If the problem was a local one in the past, now it’s in a number of other regions of the country.”
An Islamic State affiliate claimed it blew up the jetliner that left Sharm el-Sheikh for St. Petersburg on Oct. 31 in retaliation for Russian bombing in Syria.
Russians becoming the targets of international terrorism adds another element of risk that Putin must navigate in his quest to restore his country’s role in global affairs.
He built his political strongman image while fighting homegrown attacks and the Kremlin will be keen to avoid a new wave of violence undermining support for the military campaign that began Sept. 30.
Russia’s Federal Security Service says people suspected of financing international terrorism, a term usually used to describe Islamic State and similar groups, have been found in 77 of the country’s 85 regions.
There’s also been a steady stream of arrests of suspects linked to Islamic State, which was named as the prime target of the Syria air strikes.
“We understand of course that, with the start of this operation, all these terrorist organizations in Syria and those that morally and financially support them will try to activate groups in the underground who remain in Russia,” Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, said in an interview.
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