Sharing Some History With Boston

Viceroyalty of the Caucasus עברית: מלכות המשנה...

Viceroyalty of the Caucasus עברית: מלכות המשנה של הקווקז (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 26, 2013: The April 15th terrorist in the United States (Boston) has made the world more aware of Russia’s terrorism problem in the Caucasus. The two Boston terrorists (the Tsarnaev brothers) were Chechens from Dagestan. Russia had alerted the American FBI and CIA about the elder brother in 2011. Russia had no hard evidence but their intelligence had picked up some data on the elder Tsarnaev brother’s interest in Islamic radicalism. In the United States the FBI and CIA are being grilled over why this vague tip did not result in the April 15 attack being prevented. One defense that will probably be heard (more likely from the CIA, which has long monitored the Caucasus) is that there are a lot Islamic radical Chechens these days, but few of them proceed to become Islamic terrorists and fewer still attempt to make attacks outside Russia. That has given Russia a lot of problems in the last two decades.

Despite this formidable terrorist threat, the security forces (local and national police plus specialized counter-terror forces from the police and military) have managed to reduce the terrorism in the Caucasus but not eliminate it.

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Conundrum In The Caucasus

Administrative map of Caucasus in USSR, 1957-1991

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March 9, 2012: In Russia the Islamic terrorism problem in the North Caucasus (Dagestan. Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia) continues to fester. Widespread government corruption and unemployment provides a growing supply of new recruits. It all began in Chechnya back in the 1990s, and has spread to neighboring areas as it became obvious that the corruption did not disappear when the old Soviet government did in 1991. The Soviets had allowed locals to run things, pretty much any way they wanted, as long as they kept thing quiet and did not do anything that embarrassed the central government. With Soviets gone, people, especially the young, expected change. It didn’t come.

The Chechens tried, throughout the 1990s, to maintain their self-declared independence from Russia. But the Chechens could not govern themselves, and the place became a hideout for numerous criminal gangs. These guys started a kidnapping, robbery and extortion crime wave all over southern Russia. In 1999, Russia invaded again, to reassert its authority and halt the crime wave. Several years of bloody fighting followed, until a majority of the population agreed to shut down the gangsters. Ever since, Chechnya has been at peace, at least by local standards. But many of the criminals and Islamic militants fled to neighboring “republics” (as the semi-autonomous ethnic enclaves in Russia are called), mainly Ingushetia to the west, and Dagestan to the east.

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Islamist militant claims Moscow attack

Doku Umarov, Amir of the Caucasus Emirate, ex-...

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Doku Umarov, the head of a Chechnya-based rebel group that aims to enforce Islamic rule across the Northern Caucasus, made the claim in a video that was posted two weeks after the suicide bombing at Moscow Domodedovo airport. Continue reading