Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) issued a statement on Monday, alleging that US forces in Syria are training jihadist militants to carry out attacks in Russia, and across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) formerly aligned with the Soviet Union.
“According to credible information received by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the US military is actively recruiting militants from jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia and CIS countries,” the statement said.
The SVR statement continues that fast-track training is being carried out at the US’ Al-Tanf military base in Syria’s south, in a region currently under the control of anti-government forces.
The training involves the construction and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and methods of subversion, and that a “particular emphasis is paid to planning attacks on heavily guarded facilities, including foreign diplomatic missions”, it continues.
The allegations from Moscow come just days after critically acclaimed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s investigation, which detailed that a secret White House task force had planned the operation to sabotage Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, with the operation carried out by the CIA, and with Norway’s assistance.
Russia has also accused the US of training hundreds of Islamist militants in bases across US occupied parts of Syria, before their deployment to the front-lines in Ukraine.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzya, also told the UN security council in August 2022, that Islamist terror groups operating across Syria, can only be sustained by the US’ continued presence in Syria, and their continued military and logistical support to such groups.
In October 2022, The Russian Ministry of Defence made similar allegations, disclosing it had information indicating that Jabhat al-Nusra militants were preparing an attack on civilians in the in de-escalation zones in Idlib, with explosive shells laced with toxic substances.
Additionally, it stressed that the labs producing the chemicals are run by scientists trained by Western intelligence agencies, who work toward staging fabricated chemical attacks against civilians, which would be falsely attributed to the Syrian Arab Army or Russian Forces.
But it’s not just within Syria that the West has supported nefarious proxy operations against Russia.
In the mid 90’s, hundreds of Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik militants were trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) at camps in Afghanistan, for the purpose of exporting Islamic revolution to the region and weakening Russian influence in former Soviet states.
Many of the ISI’s operations were founded during the 80’s with funding and training from the CIA and MI6 in order to train militants against to fight Russia during the Soviet-Afghan War.
During the mid-90’s, these operations received tacit approval from the UK and US, who turned a blind eye to such activities, while simultaneously condemning their official enemy, Iran, for similar activities.
During the Second Chechen War 1999-2009, The UK also provided safe haven for Omar Bakri Muhammad, a Syrian national who would go on to found the Islamist organisation Al-Muhajiroun in the UK in the late 80’s.
In an interview with London-based Arabic newspaper, al-Sharq al-Aswat, Bakri claimed that in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s, he was sending hundreds of militants a year for military training in the US, many of whom would go onto fight alongside Wahhabis, and against Russian forces in Chechnya.
During his operations in the UK, Bakri stated in a further interview: “MI5 has interrogated us many times. I think now we have something called public immunity”.
In 2015, once the Second Chechen War had concluded, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, claimed direct collaboration had occurred between Chechen militants fighting against the Russian Federation and US state officials in Azerbaijan.
He also went on to accuse the US of providing transport and direct support to such militant groups, though the FSB have not been forthcoming with direct evidence to corroborate such claims.
This also occurred at a time when the West was speaking openly of cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism.
The SVR have opined that their latest intelligence of new training operations in Syria designed to destabilise Russia, “put Washington on a par with major international terrorist groups”.