Two held as Russia foils ISIS terror plot on Sakhalin island

MOSCOW • Russia's FSB security service yesterday said it had foiled an attack by supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the far eastern island of Sakhalin, an oil and gas hub.

A statement from the FSB said it had detained two alleged ISIS supporters on Sakhalin who were planning "to commit a high-profile terrorist attack in a crowded place", RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Sakhalin island is in the Pacific Ocean north of Japan and its oil and gas fields have drawn billions of dollars of investment from Russian gas giant Gazprom, Shell and others.

The security service said house searches of those held had found a home-made explosive device and cellphones with instructions on how to make bombs on them.

The FSB said one of the men detained was a "citizen of one of the Central Asian republics" - meaning the five former Soviet majority- Muslim "stans" of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - while the other was a Russian citizen.

The detentions come as Russia has focused on the threat from Islamists originating from former Soviet Central Asia following this month's attack on the Saint Petersburg metro that killed 15 and has been blamed on a suicide bomber born in Kyrgyzstan.

They also come after ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on the FSB office in the Russian far eastern city of Khabarovsk last week that killed two. But the authorities have denied any link to ISIS in that attack, and said the assailant, a 17-year-old ethnic Russian who was shot dead, had ties to neo-Nazis.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'Two held as Russia foils ISIS terror plot on Sakhalin island'. Print Edition | Subscribe