Russia a state sponsor of terrorism: Soufan report

By Tom Ravlic

April 5, 2022

Adding Russia to the list of state sponsors of terrorism should be considered by the US: Soufan Center. (Pavel Losevsky/Adobe)

Adding Russia to the list of state sponsors of terrorism should be considered by the government of the United States, given evidence of its long-term support for various terrorist and mercenary groups, according to a report just released by The Soufan Center, a leading national security research centre.

The report, titled  Foreign Fighters, Volunteers, And Mercenaries: Non-State Actors And Narratives In Ukraine examines the role played by foreign fighters, mercenaries, and volunteers in the current conflict in Ukraine.

It covers the complex regulatory and policy issues that emerge when individuals or groups seek to volunteer to fight in a conflict overseas.

The Soufan team says that governments need to ready themselves to deal with the departure of people who want to fight in Ukraine as well as their potential return.

Countries must also clarify the legal framework for those that seek to travel overseas for those going overseas to fight and to ensure “careful demarcation from counterterrorism legislation, and prepare to meet some of the needs and challenges of fighters when they return home”.

Other recommendations deal with the need for governments across the world to deal with the complex web of disinformation being spread by both governments as well as global extremist networks as well as addressing the need to ensure that governments provide information to communities about vetted and screened channels for the provision of aid to Ukraine.

“This provides not only a means of ensuring that such support is not lost, misdirected, or exploited by criminals and other illicit actors, but also provides opportunities for activism for those who will not travel or provide frontline support,” the report says.

The team at the Soufan Center said Russia meets all of the requirements for classification as a state sponsor of terrorism given that it has over a long period of time allowed the extremist group known as the Russian Imperial Movement to operate.

That movement is recognised as a terrorist group by the United States.

Russia has also provided safe harbour to the leadership of neo-Nazi group The Base, and that group has attempted to carry out terrorist activities in the United States.

The Base was listed late last year as a recognised terrorist organisation in Australia.

A further argument for the recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Soufan Center report states, is that Russia’s pattern of political assassinations also meets the legal threshold of listing as a state sponsor of terror activity.

A mercenary group called the Wagner Group is known to work closely with the Russian administration and has been linked to attempts to assassinate Ukraine’s president.

Russia would join four other countries regarded as state sponsors of terrorism if it were listed by the United States as recommended by the Soufan Group.

The countries listed in that category are Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.


Soufan report notes roles of extremist groups across the globe

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