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The Chechens and Russia: Young Chechens Emigrating to ISIS


The situation of the Chechens in Russia is very complex; after seeing their national aspirations wiped out, they subsist in abject poverty under a kleptocratic puppet regime controlled by Moscow.  In a previous post, I grossly oversimplified their history but I’m afraid the bottom line is true: young Chechens sympathetic to the Islamic State have recently begun emigrating there.  There is a lot of propaganda from ISIS that invites people to immigrate to their territory, not just fighters but engineers and other skilled people.

The recent history of Chechnya can be said to have begun on the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Pro-independence forces quickly took control in Chechnya.  However, this was not acceptable to the Russian post-Soviet government, and covert attempts to destabilize the Chechen government turned into an invasion in 1994.  This was disastrous for the Russians, who were incompetently led.  Most Russian troops were withdrawn and the region was allowed to be autonomous for a time, from 1996-9.  However, the local government under Mashdakov proved to be unable to protect a crucial oil pipeline and new Russian leader Vladimir Putin decided to invade.

Coincidentally, there were several terrorist attacks in Russia that were blamed on the Chechens, and within days afterwards, the Russians invaded Chechnya, this time successfully.  However, the insurgency was very strong and spread to neighboring countries.  Then there was the attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001, after which Putin decided to label the Chechen insurgency as not only Islamist (which was true) but jihadist (which was not.)  Then came the Beslan school siege in 2004.  This attack by Chechen insurgents, which acutely risked the lives of children, embarrassed the rest of the insurgency and led to a reduction in further attacks.  Never mind that the Russians had killed more children in incidents which had never been recorded.

There has always been an active Chechen “mafia” that lives on smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, and other forms of petty terrorism; they are recorded as being active in WW II.  The ranks of these outlaws swelled in the period between the two Chechen wars, when fighters had no better targets.  They had already penetrated the gang community in Moscow and were known for their violent ways.  They were suppressed after the second Russian invasion, although there are still active bands of Chechen mafiosi.

There was no connection between the Chechen insurgency and ISIS except that foreign volunteers came to fight in Chechnya, just as they did in Afghanistan .  The shock at popular revulsion to their attack in Beslan and their suspension of attacks shows they didn’t have the psychopathic violence thing down at all.  ISIS was born in the heads of Iraqi Sunnis who had been ill-treated by the Americans and the new Shia Iraqi government.


The Russians had Chechnya firmly under control when the insurgency died down as a result of shame after the Beslan attack.  The discovery of numerous mass graves, most of them containing Russian victims, has had little effect on their administration.  They installed a puppet named Ramzan Kadyrov, and allocated large amounts of money for reconstruction of the destroyed country.  However, Kadyrov embezzled most of it and built himself a magnificent mansion; even the Russians have begun to lost patience with him.

The Wikipedia article has much, much more about the history of Chechnya, including this summary statement about Chechnya now: “The two wars have left millions of people living in poverty, up to half a million refugees (particularly ethnic Russians), and most of the infrastructure destroyed.”  The people left in this repeatedly devastated country now report that their young people are gradually disappearing, emigrating to the Islamic State.  This is according to an article in the New York Times, and I see little reason to doubt it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Richard L Steagall permalink
    2015-11-23 2:37 PM

    Thanks for the recent development

    Sent from my iPhone



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