22:57 GMT21 February 2020
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    The geographical spread of ISIL terrorist is continuing to increase and the number of ISIL fighters from various ethnic and social backgrounds is growing, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said. He added that the Islamic State is taking aggressive measures on the propaganda front.

    YAROSLAVL (Sputnik) – Citizens from more than 100 countries are currently fighting among the ranks of the Islamic State and the terrorist organization has taken the upper hand in propaganda, often stumping the West, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov said Wednesday.

    “According to our figures, there are currently citizens from more than 100 countries fighting in [ISIL] ranks,” Bortnikov said during an opening speech at a security and law enforcement directors meeting in Yaroslavl approximately 150 miles northeast of Moscow.

    Bortnikov noted that the geographical spread of ISIL terrorist is continuing to increase and the number of ISIL fighters from various ethnic and social backgrounds is growing due primarily to their use of propaganda. The Russian FSB director said that the West often lags behind in its response to the terrorist activities used by the Islamic State.

    “ISIL has taken the initiative and is aggressively operating on the propaganda front and basically imposes their own ‘agenda,’” Bortnikov said, adding that the West is often late in responding to the threats.

    “Using this, the Islamists, who have dug their heels into the Middle East and in Northern Africa, are targeting Europe and Asia. The criminals have moved from targeted strikes to conducting large-scale armed operations and military actions using heavy artillery,” Bortnikov added.

    The Islamic State is a militant group predominantly active in Syria and Iraq, having taken over large territories in both countries. Militants in Libya, Egypt and Nigeria, among other countries, have pledged allegiance to the group.

    According to the US intelligence, as many as 20,000 foreign fighters have travelled to join the group in both countries.

    The Islamic State is an extremist group most actively using social media, recruiting foreign fighters, according to US intelligence agencies. Last month, US Federal Bureau of Investigation identified thousands of IS propagandists who disseminate information about the group on Twitter.

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