An ISIS cell has reportedly been located and apprehended by the Security Service of Ukraine in Kyiv. Supposedly, the leader of the group, an ex-ISIS militant, came to Ukraine in 2019, with forged documents, and organized help for other terrorists from the Middle East.
The group was involved in acts of forgery and distribution of extremist literature. Besides propaganda materials and symbols determining the affiliation of the members of the group to the Islamic State, a variety of explosives was found including TNT-based ordnance, eight grenade launcher rounds, and an F-1 grenade. It is possible that this organized cell was preparing materials to conduct a future terrorist attack. According to the information provided by the Security Service of Ukraine, the operatives acquired correspondence between the members of the cell and IS militants on the subject of their possible return to Syria in order to participate in the hostilities.
But what was the ISIS cell doing here in the first place? The presence of the ISIS in this region of Europe might be a bit unusual, however, the former Soviet states could become a haven for radical terrorist movements connected to Islamic extremism. After the brutal series of Chechen Wars lasting for over a decade, many Chechens and Dagestanis prosecuted by the Russian administration fled to the West. Chechens have also been involved in the conflict in Syria. In 2019, Ukrainian security services also apprehended Al Bara Shishani, a Georgian-born ISIS commander.
Additionally, over the years many students from the Middle East have also come to the region in order to study and work. Their presence and assimilation created possibilities for small organized cells to sneak under the radar of domestic security services. These groups also had no interest in conducting significant operations in the region as the central-eastern European states have little impact on international affairs in the Middle East. Thus, their presence remains largely undetected and allows them to operate relatively freely. Meanwhile, the current conflict in Ukraine presents a great opportunity for terrorist organizations to purchase weapons and other ordnance illegally to support their cause.
The successful operation conducted by the The investigation into the cell continues as prosecution of its members is pending. Ukrainian SBU seems to have delivered a blow to the ISIS structures responsible for the transit of arms and militants in the region.