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Russian youth wrestling coach charged with terrorism offenses

Alisheri Ismatzoda was allegedly found in possession of extremist literature and had been sending money to terror suspects

The coach of the Russian youth freestyle wrestling team, Alisheri Ismatzoda, has been arrested on charges of aiding terrorism and providing financial assistance to a terrorist organization, RIA Novosti has reported.

According to the outlet, Moscow’s Scherbinsky district court ordered Ismatzoda to remain in custody until August 28 following a request from state prosecutors.  

The 32-year-old, who was originally born in Tajikistan, is accused of inciting, recruiting, or otherwise involving a person in the commission of at least one terrorist crime or preparing a person for the purpose of committing such a crime. Ismatzoda faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. 

Investigators also reportedly found “extremist literature” during a search of Ismatzoda’s apartment, and discovered that one of his relatives is fighting in Syria and is being prosecuted for terrorism in Tajikistan. The coach has also been accused of sending money to people convicted of terrorist activities or who are suspected of such crimes.

Ismatzoda denies the allegations and insists that he does not maintain any contact with his relative in Syria or any other people that have professed radical Islam. 

“I am a family man, professing traditional Islam,” Ismatzoda told the court, as per RIA. 

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The coach’s defense argued that state prosecutors failed to provide sufficient information about Ismatzoda’s allegedly illegal transactions, which they said were meant for the purchase of sports equipment. 

“Our client has never participated and does not plan to participate in terrorist organizations, leads a secular lifestyle, is integrated into the community, and has three young children,” Ismatzoda’s lawyer said, insisting that the coach should at least be released under house arrest. 

Ismatzoda’s detention came as a “shock” to his friends and colleagues at the Russian Wrestling Federation. His close friend Sergey, whose sons once trained under Ismatzoda, insisted that the coach is “very well-mannered, modest, and talented.” 

“It’s hard to believe that he’s some kind of terrorist. I hope this is a mistake,” Sergey told the media. He claimed it made no sense for Ismatzoda to engage in terrorist activity considering what he stood to lose, including his wife, sons, and property in Moscow.

July 04, 2024 at 04:36PM
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