Russian spy service says US grooming militants to attack Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters): Russia’s foreign spy service said on Monday that it had received intelligence that the US military was grooming Islamist militants to attack targets in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, headed by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said it had intelligence that 60 such militants from groups affiliated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda had been recruited and were undergoing training at an American base in Syria.

“They will be tasked with preparing and carrying out terrorist attacks against diplomats, civil servants, law enforcement officers and personnel of the armed forces,” said the Foreign Intelligence Service, known by the initials SVR.

“Special attention is paid to attracting immigrants from the Russian North Caucasus and Central Asia,” the SVR said in a statement.

The agency did not publish the intelligence behind its assertion and Reuters was unable to independently verify it.

The SVR, once part of the mighty Soviet-era KGB, is headed by Sergei Naryshkin who met CIA Director William Burns last year in Ankara.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed relations with the United States to the lowest level since the crises of the Cold War.

Putin casts the United States as an empire that has repeatedly refused to take into account Russian interests since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. President Joe Biden casts Putin as an autocrat who is a major threat to the United States.