WASHINGTON, DC: The US State Department designated two Russians allied to the Islamic State group as “global terrorists” Wednesday, including a former Guantanamo detainee and a Chechen militant tied to deadly attacks in Moscow.
The State Department said Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukaev, also known as Amir Khamzat, is the IS leader in Chechnya and responsible for suicide bombings in Russia including the January 2011 attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, which killed 35.
Since becoming an IS leader in June 2015, the department said, Byutukaev has planned attacks for the group. It said that last November, Russian special forces discovered a large bomb hidden on the side of the road in Ingushetia that was part of a planned attack “directed by Byutukaev.”
Ayrat Vakhitov, who also goes by the name Salman Bulgarsky, is a former inmate at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay who was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 and released in 2004 to Russia.
In recent years, the ethnic Tatar has fought for the IS group in Syria and uses the internet to recruit fighters for the group, according to the State Department.
According to a Voice of America report, he was detained by Turkish authorities early this month in relation to the June 28 attack at Ataturk international airport, which left 45 people dead.
“Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukaev and Ayrat Nasimovich Vakhitov are actively engaged in terrorism,” the State Department said.
The designation includes sanctions that prohibit Americans from transactions with the two, and blocks any of their assets under US jurisdiction.