October 23, 2016

Isis ‘kills five Russian hostages’ accused of spying against militants

Russian-born Isis fighter Anatoly Zemlyanka has become one of Moscow’s most-wanted after he apparently executed a countryman for a video in Syria

Independent|World| Middle East|
The Isis militant group has executed five more Russian nationals after accusing them of “spying” in its territories, according to Russian media reports.

Last week, a video was released by Isis showing a man dubbed the Russian “Jihadi John” purportedly executing a “Chechen spy”.

The executioner has been identified by officials in the North Caucasus as Anatoly Zemlyanka. The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly wrote on Instagram that the 28-year-old was an ethnic Russian and wanted by the police.

And on Tuesday, LifeNews quoted security sources in the region as saying a further five Russians had been executed by Isis on similar charges. Their identities are unknown.

New figures released by the New York-based Soufan Group suggest Russians are travelling to join Isis in their droves, with numbers of foreign fighters from the federation and central Asia up three-fold in the past year.

With an estimated 2,400 foreign fighters, Russia was reported to be the third-largest contributor to Isis’s ranks behind only Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The Soufan Group said the increase in Russia was “far more substantial proportionately than that seen in Western Europe over the same time span”, the Daily Beast reported.

And while many travel over to Isis from areas in the North Caucasus with large Muslim populations, a report in the Novaya Gazeta suggested Russia’s secret services were facilitating this – effectively exported the country’s worst extremists abroad.

Little is known about Zemlyanka himself, who became one of the most wanted men in Russia when he beheaded his countryman Magomed Khasiev in Syria last week.

Russian media reports have described him of the son of an Orthodox Christian mother, growing up in a remote community in Noyabrsk, Siberia.

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