Russia’s counter-terrorism agency says special forces arrested a man Thursday who is accused of planning a terrorist attack on Moscow that the agency foiled last month.
The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement that troops from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, arrested Yulai Davletbayev in suburban Moscow Thursday morning.
Russian TV showed images of special forces arresting a man identified as Davletbayev. It was not clear when or where the operation took place.
Two suspected militants from the group Davletbayev is accused of leading were killed and a third, Robert Amerkhanov was arrested in an FSB operation in May, the committee said. Amerkhanov told the FSB that Davletbayev had directed the planned attacks, the committee said. The men were Russian citizens trained in terrorist camps on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the committee added.
Davletbayev worked under the guise of a taxi driver while scouting densely populated places where the highest number possible of people would suffer, the committee said.
According to the committee, the men had been ordered by a group known as the Islamic Party of Turkestan, based in the Afghan-Pakistani border zone, to commit a series of attacks in Moscow and then hide in Afghanistan.
The group used to be known as the Islamic Party of Uzbekistan, which aimed to overthrow the government of the former Soviet Central Asian republic and was largely destroyed in the 2001 U.S. war against the Afghan Taliban. Police arrested a man it said ran the group’s Moscow cell in March.
Amirkhanov and Davletbayev hail from Bashkortostan, a province between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains with a large Muslim population. They were part of an ethnic Bashkir group that committed a series of attacks across Russia in 2010, the committee said. The men then went to the border zone for training and to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan, the committee said.
Russian special forces regularly announce that they have thwarted terrorist attacks, most often in the Caucasus region of southern Russia, where an Islamic insurgency is simmering. The last major terrorist attack in Moscow was a suicide bombing at the Domodedovo international airport in January 2011 that left 37 people dead. An insurgent group based in the Caucasus claimed responsibility.