MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russian police said Monday they have detained seven leaders of an ethnic Central Asian criminal group engaged in illegal banking, that they believed was financing an international Islamist terrorist organization.
The group, with a turnover of 1.5 billion rubles ($46 million) per month, conducted unspecified illegal financial activities involving major markets across Russia, including in Moscow and the Perm Region.
Over 178 million rubles ($5.4 million) was seized from the group which consists of more than 40 members, police said in a statement, without saying when the operation took place.
Police claim to have found evidence proving that the group financed the Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) international political organization that was officially banned in Russia in February 2003.
The suspects laundered funds through financial channels “in the interests of natives of Central Asia illegally based in Russia,” police said.
It was not possible to independently verify the police claims about the alleged group’s activities.
The Russian authorities have in recent months been conducting large-scale checks on migrant workers at markets across the country, particularly in Moscow, in response to alleged criminal activity.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamic political group believed to have been established in the Palestine territories in the early 1950s, promotes the creation of a geographically sweeping Caliphate operating under strict sharia law.
Updates number of people detained, adds details.