Rostov-on-Don, October 3, Interfax - Recently detained gang members were plotting to stage an attack on Khamzat Chumakov, the imam of the Nasyr-Kort mosque in Ingushetia and a known public and religious figure in the North Caucasus, a source in the region's security services told Interfax on Tuesday.
"The preliminary information available indicates that the gang members detained by security services wanted to try to assassinate Khamzat Chumakov using an improvised explosive device," the source said.
According to some reports, the suspects intended to detonate an explosives-packed car after Friday prayers, but police thwarted their plot after receiving a tip-off about their plans, the source said.
It would have been the third attack on the imam, the source said. The first assassination attempt occurred in 2010, when an explosive device was planted under his car. Chumakov was heavily injured and lost his leg as a result of that explosion, but survived. The imam sustained only bruises when another car bomb exploded in March 2016.
Police believe that Chumakov became the target of the attacks because of his preaching activities.
It was reported on Monday that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had averted an assassination attempt on Chumakov involving a powerful improvised explosive device.
Two members of a criminal gang were detained, and improvised explosive devices, explosives, and means of terrorism ready for use were found in their residences. An explosive substance, presumably the plastic explosive PVV-7 (hexogen and aluminum), an electric detonator, and parts of an improvised bomb the terrorists were planning to use to kill the religious figure were confiscated during searches.