MOSCOW – The activity of jihadists affiliated with Daesh [ISIS] and al-Qaeda was spotted in Latin America by recruiting fighters and promoting extremist ideology among local Muslims, said the Russian chief of the Central Intelligence Department (GRU), Igor Kostyukov.
“Among the new risk factors is the emergence of training camps and jihadist hiding places in the region,” said Igor Kostyukov, director of GRU, at the Moscow annual conference on International Security.
The jihadists currently operating in Latin America are linked to Daesh and al-Qaeda, he added.
“They recruit fighters to strengthen their ranks in the Middle East and North Africa, collect funds and promote extremist ideology among the region’s six million Muslims,” Kostyukov said.
However, the Russian official did not mention specific countries where the jihadist camps were discovered.
At the same time, such claims by the Russian experts should be dealt with cautiously. The U.S right-wing media outlets such as Fox News have been hyping a mythology for over a decade that Iran’s Hezbollah can use the U.S-Mexico border, and that such threats justify U.S intervention. Because there is a lack of distinction in U.S political discourse between the different branches of Islam, the difference between global Salafist jihad versus regional Shia militancy in the Levant, such talk from Russian experts can lead towards unjustified conclusions in both the U.S expert community and in popular media.
Moreover, the U.S has shown already it tries to justify military intervention on the basis of the presence of Daesh type Salafist formations, even if the government with authority in that region is opposed to U.S activity. This becomes ultimately a form of U.S invasion on the basis of a supposed terrorist threat.
Last year, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales Cabrera said about 100 people linked to Daesh and other groups were arrested in his country and deported from where they came from.
ISIS has been defeated as a state, but may resurface in the future, US Special Representative for Syrian involvement James Jeffrey told an annual conference on US-Turkey relations earlier this month.
“[Daesh] was defeated as a state, but they can return,” Jeffrey said in his speech at the conference.
Jeffrey pointed out that Turkey, Russia and Iran are among the main protagonists on the Syrian side, and the role of the latter is a concern for Ankara.
The Special Representative noted that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government controls 60% of Syria but did not specify who controls the rest of Syria.
On March 22, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that the Daesh’s territorial caliphate had been eliminated in Syria.
Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, later reported that a “Daesh” never existed but a network of terrorists sponsored by US and British intelligence and sent to Syria, mainly from Turkey.