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“Islamic Committee” in Henichesk: Ukraine turning into geopolitical testing area

As Europe receives more than two million “refugees” from the countries with high terror activity (Sudan, Syria, Libya, Iraq), the migrant crisis is gripping Europe, amid outbreak of violence by migrants towards Europeans. All this has overshadowed the processes in Ukraine. Meantime, very important developments that are indirectly connected with the so-called “European revolt of Islamists” are observed here. The point is that militants of Daesh-ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra, Hizb-ut Tahrir have emerged and are even being legitimized in Ukraine.

The first reports about militants in Ukraine who fought on the side of Daesh-ISIL emerged in mass media and analytical services yet last summer. It was reported then that hundreds of young Eastern men masquerading as tourists arrived in the Kherson region, Ukraine, via the territory of Turkey, and then in Odessa. Those men were placed at the tourist bases belonging to the Crimean-Tatar community or at the training bases of the Right Sector in Kherson region. The same-style cloths of the tourists, their cohesiveness, age and sex made clear who they were. The local residents were the first to voice concern. They were simply shocked with the behavior of the strangers who established control of the facilities they were placed in and began to dictate their rules of movement near the bases they were deployed at. One of the areas where Jihadists were deployed was a former tourist base, now the training center of the Right Sector in the near border village Chongar. After a wave of public discontent, Ukraine’s security forces took control of the areas where “tourists from the East” were deployed.

Afterwards, news and articles that were criticizing developments in those areas suddenly disappeared from news feeds of Ukrainian media. This issue has become a kind of taboo for the Ukrainian information resources.

Simultaneously with large flows of “tourists” from Syria and Iraq, the Supreme Rada suddenly passed a law allowing foreign citizens to serve at the Ukrainian army. Afterwards, the leaders of the so-called Crimean-Tatar Mejlis announced a decision of the Ukrainian authorities to include a “Muslim Battalion” into Ukraine’s Armed Forces to “fight Russian occupants” in the direction of Crimea. Head of the “Mejlis” Mustafa Cemilev explained that the battalion will involve not only the Muslims of Ukraine, but also Muslim “brothers” from Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.

One can draw a conclusion from the above mentioned that Kiev decided to go on a risk and use the factor of Salafis in the fight against Russia.

It is noteworthy that radical Islamists have emerged in Ukraine not just because of the strain in the relations of Russia and Turkey. However, before that conflict, Turkey tried to conceal its support to the Islamists in Ukraine. Now, Ankara openly funds and supports Islamic groups in Ukraine providing the “Muslim Battalion of Ukraine’s Armed Forces” with ammunition, communications means, and even, according to some reports, by weapons. Ankara explains its steps with the military-technical cooperation of Ukraine and Turkey.

In this light, the so-called “Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars” has convened in Henichesk (Kherson region, Ukraine) on January 16-20. Security of the participants is provided by interservice teams of “the self-defense forces of the Crimean-Tatar people” and three hundreds of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry officers. The event initiators say delegates from 43 countries participate in the work of the “Islamic Committee,” for instance, militants of the “Turkoman Movement of Syria,” representatives of “Boz Gurd” (Grey Wolves) from Turkey, Jihadists from Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, Afghanistan. An official press release says the “Muslim brothers” (delegates) will discuss preparations for the “World Congress of Crimean Tatars,” however, in practice, the participants say the major task is to ensure that “the fighters of the World Islamic Front” join “liberation of Crimea from disbelievers.” In short, what is happening in Ukraine these days is preparation for sabotage and reconnaissance against Russia. Mustafa Cemilev said at the congress that after receiving an official status by the Defense Ministry of Ukraine, every Islamist can OFFICIALLY join “Jihad” against “damn Russians” for “liberation of the Muslim holy place – Crimea.”

Kiev’s response to the rapidly growing “Islamic radicalism” in Ukraine is positive. It appears that the large flows of Islamists into the county are a kind of “triumph card” for Ukraine’s authorities who hope to open “Islamic front” in Ukraine against Russia.

Yet President Petro Poroshenko and his aides have neglected the key factor: for Salafis – “the tourists from the East” that have flooded the Kherson region belong mainly to the Salafi doctrine of Islam – any regimes, countries, peoples who do not observe Sharia Law and do not adhere to “pure Islam” are subject to either destruction or enslavement.

We cannot but hope that at least the instinct for self-preservation will hold Ukraine’s authorities from implementing their inherently flagrant and absurd plan of alliance with global terrorism against Russia and turning their country into a polygon. Besides, it is not known if Ukrainian compradors have real chances to control the situation.

Ian Matushevsky (Kiev) for EADaily

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