Seven suspected members of Islamic State (IS) were arrested on Friday for preparing a suicide bombing in St. Petersburg for this weekend, the FSB press service announced Friday.
A suicide bomber earlier this year detonated an improvised explosive in a St. Petersburg metro car, killing 16 and injuring dozens. The FSB’s raid on Friday comes days after it said it foiled another attack planned for the New Year holidays in Moscow.
The suspects were part of an IS sleeper cell preparing a suicide attack at the Kazansky Cathedral in St. Petersburg on Saturday, the RBC business portal reported citing the FSB.
The group was also planning to “detonate improvised explosive devices in areas with large concentrations of people.”
An FSB video carried by RBC shows one of the suspects confessing to preparing the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.
"I was supposed to make the explosives and... pack them into bottles with projectiles attached," he said.
The video also shows FSB operatives detaining a suspect at a shipping container that was supposedly used as an explosives lab and raiding an apartment, where explosives, assault weapons, ammunition and Islamist literature was found.
Security officials said that the sleeper cell was being directed by IS, a banned terrorist organization in Russia, from abroad using the encrypted Telegram messenger app, the state-run TASS news agency reported.
Telegram has been embroiled in a legal battle with the FSB over privacy rights and was fined last month for refusing to provide the security forces with access to the online conversations of two terror suspects linked to April’s metro bombing.
The messenger app cited concerns about users’ right to the privacy of correspondence.