2017-12-18 | Terrorism

US steps in, saves Russia from terror attack

Caravanserai

Co-operation between Central Asian states, as exhibited by the US and Russia in the St. Petersburg case, will help the region foil future terrorist attacks, say observers.

Orthodox priests take part in a service at Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg July 11, 2013. The Russian Federal Security Service last week arrested seven suspected IS members accused of plotting terrorist attacks in parts of the Tsarist capital, including the cathedral. [Olga Maltseva/AFP]

BISHKEK -- The Kremlin Monday (December 18) acknowledged that it was US intelligence that helped Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) foil a terror attack on St. Petersburg's 19th-century Kazan Cathedral and other targets, AFP reported.

The FSB said in a statement it had arrested seven "Islamic State" (IS) members last week who had been planning terror attacks in crowded areas of St. Petersburg.

The "useful" information provided by the US "helped save a lot of lives", Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Monday.

"And certainly it cannot but cause satisfaction and gratitude," Peskov added.

'Exemplary co-operation'

The "exemplary co-operation" exhibited in the St. Petersburg case, as Peskov described it, is something that many Central Asian countries will likely want to emulate to prevent any future terrorist activity.

Unlike in wealthy Western countries, Central Asia's intelligence services are poorly equipped and lack resources, Igor Shestakov, co-chairman of the Pikir Regional Experts Club in Bishkek, told Caravanserai.

"Our security agencies co-operate closely with their colleagues" in Central Asia and elsewhere, which allows for "[us] to monitor migration processes and radical activities more effectively," he said.

Central Asian militants who fought for the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria can organise pinpoint terrorist acts, destabilising the region, Dmitrii Orlov, director of another Bishkek-based think tank, East-West Strategy, told Caravanserai.

Intelligence co-operation is already seeing results in Central Asia, he said.

The intelligence services of countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been able to "prevent terror attacks rather than have to address the consequences, which would have been the case five years ago", he said.

[Arman Kaliyev contributed to this report.]

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