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Monday , December 6 2021

‘IS axe attacker planned to move to Germany’ – Suspected terrorists tracked

VALERIK, Russia, Aug 31, (RTRS): An Islamic State supporter who was shot dead in Russia after he attacked police officers with an axe had planned to travel to Germany to join members of his family there, two people who knew him told Reuters.

Usman Murdalov, 21, and his friend Sulim Israilov, 18, armed themselves with axes and attacked a traffic police post near Moscow on Aug. 17.

In a video posted online a day later, they professed loyalty to Islamic State. The two people who knew him said that Murdalov, up to the point when he left his home village in the Russian region of Chechnya on Aug. 12, had been making arrangements to travel to Germany to join his father and his step-mother who moved there three months earlier.

Germany has seen a spate of violent attacks in the past few months, including two blamed on Islamists. Security officials have said that people with extremist links, some of them Chechens, are getting into Germany by passing themselves off as migrants and asylum seekers.

Ingo Decker, head spokesman for the interior ministry of the German state of Brandenburg, declined to comment on Murdalov or his family, but said the state had been dealing with large numbers of Chechen refugees for years. “A large majority of those refugees come from the Islamic republics of Russia, and they generally come through eastern Europe,” Decker said. “Nearly all the Islamists and suspected terrorists that we are tracking in our state come from these regions, not generally from Iraq or Syria.” Chechnya is a mainly Muslim region of southern Russia which is the scene of a low-level Islamist insurgency.

Russian security officials have said about 10,000 people from Russia and other ex-Soviet republics are fighting in the Middle East in the ranks of jihadist groups. There are no figures for the number of Chechens, but they make up a significant contingent within Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In the village of Valerik, where Murdalov had his family home, a relative said that Murdalov had successfully applied to the Russian authorities for a passport so he could travel to Germany. “He did not have a visa,” to enter Germany, the relative said. “His family, who left earlier, didn’t have visas either.” A neighbour in Valerik, who knows the family, also said Murdalov was planning to go to Germany, following his family. “They went there illegally by car through Poland. That’s for sure,” the neighbour said, adding that he did not know their current location.

People in the village said they could not explain why Murdalov had scrapped his plan to travel to Germany. He was last seen in Valerik on Aug. 12, when he and Israilov said they were leaving for the nearby Caspian Sea resort of Izberbash for a break. Five days later, the two attacked the police post in Balashikha, a town near Moscow and about 1,900 km (1,200 miles) from Izberbash. They injured two police officers, one of whom later died in hospital. Murdalov and Israilov were shot dead. A day later, Islamic State media channels released a video purporting to show Murdalov and Israilov before the attack.

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