MOSCOW, August 2 (RIA Novosti) – A court-martial on Russia’s far east Sakhalin Island sentenced a reserve army captain to 1 ½ years in jail for setting up a cell of the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, investigators said on Friday.
The investigation found that Batraz Gabeyev, serving at a military base in the island’s main city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, went on vacation in 2012 to an unnamed location where he met a “mentor,” who instructed him to set up a cell of the pan-Islamic organization, which was banned as a terrorist organization by the Russian Supreme Court in 2003.
After returning to his post, Gabeyev recruited at least five Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk residents between August 2012 and March 2013, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The group studied extremist literature that “justified militant activity in the North Caucasus,” an area which has suffered from a long-running Islamist insurgency. Gabeyev used his followers to promote the radical ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate, and recruit more people to their cell, the statement said.
While searching Gabeyev’s apartment, the police also found 16 rounds of 9-mm ammunition and two grenades. He explained that had purchased them for self-defense, the statement said.
Gabeyev could have been sentenced to a maximum seven years in jail for the charges against him, but got away with only 1 ½ years and a fine of 150,000 rubles (some $4,530). A separate case was opened against the other cell members.