Thursday, October 29, 2020

Siloviki Want to Counter Spread of ‘Google Jamaats’ in Russia by Engaging in Provocations, Zhuravlyov and Silantyev Say

 Siloviki Want to Counter Spread of ‘Google Jamaats’ in Russia by Engaging in Provocations, Zhuravlyov and Silantyev Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 27 – Islamic radicalism has acquired a new face in the Urals, Rostislav Zhuravlyov says. In the past, it was based on oil and gas workers from the Caucasus who in the 1990s formed criminal groups and used Islam as a cover for their activities. Now, however, what he calls “Google Jamaats” have become predominant.

            The Octagon Media commentator says that the Russian authorities have suppressed the former with new laws and actions but they have not found a way to cut off young people from the Caucasus and Central Asia from turning to the Internet and being radicalized by what they find there (

            He cites Roman Silantyev, a prominent but notorious specialist on Islam, notorious because of his close links with the Russian Orthodox Church, as saying that what is happening in the Urals is now surprise because it is happening elsewhere. Indeed, Silantyev says, he doubts there are any regions of Russia where “Google jamaats” are not forming.

            In the Urals region, however, this is especially obvious because of the ethnic divisions there between indigenous Russians and immigrant workers from the Caucasus and Central Asia. That gives these virtual communities a base and cohesion they may not have in other parts of the country.

            The security agencies, Zhuravlyov and Silantyev say, have so far been able to prevent planned terrorist actions against the oil and gas sector. But they have not been successful in preventing Internet sites from serving as a major recruiting device that is attracting ever more young Muslim oil and gas field workers.

            But Google jamaats are also attracting to their ranks ethnic Russians who feel that their lives have somehow been harmed or left incomplete as a result of problems at home or problems in the workplace. The jamaats play on that, but being Internet based, the closure of mosques during the pandemic has had little effect.

            According to Silantyev, Russian siloviki are pushing to be allowed to stage “provocations,” using penetrating agents to call for action on the basis of words and then move against the potential perpetrators before they can act. So far, Moscow has not agreed; but as the situation deteriorates, Silantyev continues, that may change.

            The Russian security forces are pointing to the successes the FBI has had in the United States where government agents routinely join extremist groups to monitor them and thus be in a position to prevent illegal actions. Clearly, Russian siloviki want the same opportunities, but they want to go even further in promoting the organization of violence in order to block it.

            If Moscow agrees, either by changing the law or changing what is permissible in other ways, the likelihood is that the number of people arrested for actions they did not yet take is likely to rise and anger about this may drive the radicals even deeper into the underground to avoid that threat.   


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