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'Tajik' Arrested In Moscow On Charges Of Creating Pro-IS Website


A militant waves the Islamic State flag in Raqqa, Syria. (file photo)

A militant waves the Islamic State flag in Raqqa, Syria. (file photo)

A man has been arrested in Moscow on suspicion of carrying out propaganda for the Islamic State (IS) militant group, according to Russian media reports on February 25.

As the story broke, Russian reports offered slightly different information about the arrest, with the TASS news agency saying that the suspect was from Tajikistan and Interfax reporting that he was a Russian citizen.

The TASS news agency quoted an anonymous security source as saying that the suspect had created a website on behalf of Islamic State militants. The site included videos with an extremist content, the source said.

The source said that the suspect was arrested on Obraztsova Street near the Savelovsky trading complex in Moscow.

"The suspect called for terrorist activity and the public justification of terrorism," the source told TASS.

The arrest of the suspected pro-Islamic State propagandist comes after Russia's Supreme Court designated the Islamic State group a terrorist organization in December, a move that allows the Russian security forces to prosecute those involved with the group under antiterror laws.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) news website reported that the authorities are investigating whether the suspect received money from militants and whether he was a member of the Islamic State group. KP cited an anonymous security source as saying that financing from the militants might have come via the Internet.

Another source told KP that the suspect carried out his propaganda activities via the Russian social networking site VKontakte.

Russia's prosecutor-general cracked down on propaganda on VKontakte in October, ordering the closure of seven Russian-language pages that contained "calls for extremist and terrorist activities." VKontakte also banned several pro-Islamic State accounts and pages.

However, supporters of the Islamic State group and other militant groups fighting in Syria have since returned in force and continue to post propaganda on the site. Militants also use the Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki, and there is a growing Russian-speaking pro-Islamic State presence on Facebook and to a lesser extent on Twitter.

Beyond social networks, the FiSyria webpage run by Russian-speaking militants in or close to the Islamic State group's military commander in Syria, Umar al-Shishani, is now back online after a period of being offline. The site, which describes itself as an "information site" and which posts Islamic State videos and other propaganda material, is now hosted by a Turkish server based in Istanbul.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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