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South Ossetia comprehends that Jihadists may enter the region, expert says

South Ossetia cannot but be in the focus of attention of the North Caucasus religious radicals due to its geostrategic situation. After the leaders of the North Caucasus “vilayats” took the oath of allegiance to caliph al-Baghdadi, that threat has become even more realistic, Artur Ataev, Senior Researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) told EADaily when commenting on the bill on labor migrants drafted by the South Ossetia parliament.  The bill looks to prevent penetration of radical Islamists to the republic.

 “Perhaps, the political leadership of South Osseria comprehends that in the age of new political technologies,  Jihadists may penetrate into the region using the local Muslim population,” Atayev said.

The real threat to the religious and political balance of the country comes from the Muslim labor migrants from various countries, he said, calling the preventive measures initiated by the Committee for Defense and Security as quite an adequate and necessary legislative initiative. “The point is that some politicians have repeatedly drawn the attention of the parliament to the growing interest of radicals to South Ossetia,” Atayev said.  

He said some natives from South Ossetia have converted to Islam and begun actively engaging in Daawat-E-Islam (A Call For Humanity Towards Allah). It has aroused concern of the local law-enforcement agencies, who rightfully argue that for radicals it is easier to recruit novices.

The expert said the local residents are very cautious to the initiatives of the Muslim minority. In 2010, he said, sveral online media disseminated reports that some persons practicing Islam were on an official trip to Tskhinval and demanded the local authorities to build a mosque in the town. “The public in South Ossetia responded to the new initiative of the Muslims extremely negatively,” Atayev recalled. “The regional political elite of South Ossetia did not support the idea either.”

 “There have been numerous attempts to shatter the religious situation in South Ossetia. Therefore, one should not rule out possible plans of the radical Islamic groups to expand into the region and promote their ideas in the Greater Caucasus,”  Atayev said for conclusion.

Earlier, Dmitry Tasoyev, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security told Sputnik.Ossetia there are radical Islamists among the workers engaged in construction activities in South Ossetia and they constitute a threat to the country’s security. Most of the labor migrants engaged in construction of social and economic development facilities are the natives of North Caucasus and Central Asia.

“Our committee is drafting a bill on labor migrants that will enable us to prevent penetration of radical Islamists to South Ossetia under the pretence of labor contract organizations. At present, their number in the country is big enough. They propagate their ideas, distribute drugs and engage in other unlawful activities,” the parliamentarian said.

Tasoyev believes that the Islamic extremists “are paving the way for future subversive actions against Russia and its outpost – South Ossetia.”

Tasoyev said he has information that many Ossetians have joined the Islamic State and fight in the Middle East. However, the parliamentarian does not know if they are natives of North or South Ossetia.

The Committee for State Security of South Ossetia has no data on the natives leaving the country to join the Islamic State. 

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