by Lyudmila Tsubiks / Scripps Howard Foundation Wire | infoZine.com | October 4, 2011
Gordon M. Hahn, senior researcher with the Terrorism Research and Education Program wrote a report terrorism in the North Caucasus, "Getting the Caucasus Right" and spoke about it last week. SHFWire photo by Lyudmila Tsubiks
The threat posed by the Caucasus mujahedeen to Russia and international security is not getting enough attention, a new report says.
Washington, D.C. - The report by Gordon M. Hahn, senior researcher with the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, says journalists, analysts, academics and activist persist in ignoring, denying and even hiding from the public and policymakers the global jihadization of the Caucasus mujahedeen.
Hahn discussed his report, “Getting the Caucasus Emirate Right,” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.
According to the report, the North Caucasus region, in particular Chechnya, remains an unstable territory.
Since 1995, there have been 13 major bloody terrorist incidents in Russia – not counting bomb blasts that happen almost every day. The major attacks include the 2002 Moscow theater siege, the 2004 Beslan school massacre and the latest suicide bomb at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport Jan. 24.
Despite what the report says and ongoing terrorist activity, Chechnya is considered a relatively stable Russian federal republic by most Russians.
Hahn said the main threat in the North Caucasus – which also includes Dagestan, North Ossetia and Ingushetia – today is the Caucasus Emirate jihadi terrorist network. The organization was founded in October 2007 to supplant the unrecognized secessionist government of Chechnya, known formally as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya, or ChRI, proclaimed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Hahn said the Caucasus Emirate movement is different from the previous Chechen movement for independence because of the growing influence of al-Qaida and its jihadist ideologies.
In the report Hahn says that in the mid-1990s al-Qaida funded training camps and sent several hundred trainers, ideologists and fighters to Chechnya and other North Caucasus republics. The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria also funneled fighters to Afghanistan, he said.
“The ChRI’s expanding ties made [Caucasus Emirate’s] further integration into the AQ-led global jihadi revolutionary movement or alliance inevitable,” Hahn said in the report.
The evidence of the Caucasus Emirate’s integration into the global jihad is overwhelming, Hahn said.
According to the report, the leader of the new terrorist network, Dokku Umarov, has repeatedly associated the Caucasus Emirate with global jihad.
In October 2010, Umarov called the mujahedeen of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and other countries brothers who are carrying out Jihad against non-believers.
According to Hahn, Umarov said the main purpose of the Chechen mujahedeen is to fight Russia.
Ethnic Chechens arrested on terrorism charges in Europe in the last nine months are evidence of the ties between the Caucasus Emirate and al-Qaida’s global jihad, Hahn said in his report.
Two Chechens who belonged to a terrorist group called Shariah4Belgium were arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks in Belgium Nov. 23, 2010.
In April, Czech Republic officials stumbled on an international cell connected to the Caucasus Emirate’s Dagestan province in the Bohemia region. The group included one Chechen and two or three Dagestanis, who were accused of weapons possession, document falsification and financing and supplying terrorist organizations.
However, the flow of mujahedeen from the Caucasus to other countries is has been more limited than those from other countries going to the Caucasus, Hahn said.
Hahn said the Caucasus Emirate’s mujahedeen follow the Afghan jihad by radio and the Internet. The Caucasus Emirate also uses Internet sites to post its ideologists’ writings, video and audio lectures, in addition to numerous translations of books, articles and book chapters by Saudi and Iraqi sheiks and scholars.
Hahn said there is not enough evidence to determine the main cause of violence in the North Caucasus. The menu of possible causes includes Russian brutality, bad government, jihadi ideology and support, a local culture of violence and the low standard of living, Hahn said. The idea that it is always the mujahedeen responding to Russia’s supposedly routinely brutal counterterrorist operations is a biased assumption, he said.
“Of course, to some extent the rise of jihadism is a response to the two post-Soviet wars, but the Chechens bear as much responsibility for the outbreak of those wars as does Moscow,” Hahn said.