Seven men believed to be supporters of the Islamic State terror group have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Russia on Friday for attempting to stage a collision on a high-speed railway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The suspects, hailing from post-Soviet Tajikistan, placed a metal object on the tracks in an attempt to cause the high-speed Sapsan train to derail and crash into oncoming traffic in mid-2017, a Moscow military court ruled. The train did not crash but five Sapsan carriages were reportedly damaged, resulting in estimated losses of 55 million rubles ($880,000).
The court handed the defendants sentences ranging between 15 and 21 years in maximum-security prison, Interfax reported.
The suspected IS cell members staged the diversion with plans to issue an online message calling on the Russian government to stop its military campaign in Syria, according to an indictment cited by the state-run TASS news agency.
The convicted jihadists were apprehended in mid-2017 while attempting to carry out a new plan to bomb the railway, the outlet added.
Only one of the seven suspects pleaded guilty to all charges and another one to weapons possession, the agencies reported. Five others denied their guilt.
The case resembles previous bomb plots to target the Sapsan, including a 2011 attempt after which four suspects were sentenced to long prison terms. Another high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Nevsky Express, was derailed by bomb attacks in 2007, injuring about 60, and in 2009, killing 28.
Islamic State is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.