Russia detains 69 from banned Islamic organisation

MOSCOW: Russia said on Tuesday it had detained 69 supporters of an Islamic organisation banned in the country, accusing them of being « extremists » attempting to carry out illegal activity.

The FSB security service said it had detained in Moscow and the surrounding region followers of the Tablighi Jamaat — a global Muslim evangelical movement that Russia outlawed in 2009 as « extremist ».

The FSB said those detained were « an extremist cell » led by people from Central Asia and including Russian citizens. It said it had « foiled unlawful activity of a deep-cover structure from an international organisation » — without giving details of the alleged activity.

During a raid, officers confiscated « communications devices as well as a electronic data storage devices with reports on unlawful activity, » the FSB said, adding that an investigation had been opened.

State television showed FSB video footage of officers breaking down a door into a flat and then young men lying on the floor with hands behind their heads. It also showed religious books. Russia has rarely targeted supporters of Tablighi Jamaat, a secretive media-shy organisation.

Recently the FSB has cracked down on natives of Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union after they were implicated in a number of terror attacks, shifting its focus away from people from the North Caucasus.

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