Russian security officials say two radical Islamist terrorists arrested near a chemical weapons storage and disposal facility on Tuesday, were planning a lethal attack on the site aimed at causing maximum damage to the surrounding area.
The site in the Kirov region, some 1000 km northeast of Moscow, is being used to store and dispose some of the 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons left over from Soviet rule.
Russia along with the US have ratified the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which obligates all signatory states to dispose of chemical weapons. Both countries pledged to destroy all of their stockpiles by 2012. Although missing this deadline, Russia has destroyed 90% of its arsenal – with the remainder stored at various sites, including at Kirov, the target of the attack foiled on Tuesday.
Authorities said that two men, aged 19 and 21, both radicalized Sunni Muslims from the North Caucasus region, had been arrested. Extremist literature was also found in an abandoned house thought to be where the two had been planning the attack.
The North Caucasus region, along with Chechnya, both of which are located on Russia's central southern border between the Black and Caspian Seas, have become hotbeds for the spread of violent radical Islam.
Earlier this week, Chechen forces assassinated one of the most sought after Islamic terrorists, Abu Muslim al Shishani, known as the "serial butcher", who had joined a jihadi group in Syria and had beheaded over 300 men loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad.
The presence of Islamic terrorists in the North Caucasus and Chechen regions has caused growing concern in Moscow for the safety of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, set to be held in the Black Sea City, Sochi, which is close by.
Chechen fighters have vowed to use violence to stop the Games from taking place.