- Donald Rumsfeld has ‘no idea’ if he paid taxes correctly
- Bradley Manning named honorary grand marshal of San Francisco Pride parade
- Look out PayPal: Facebook working toward mobile payments system
- U.S. rebukes Iran’s U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- Stoned mom avoids jail after driving 12 miles with baby on roof
- More than 100 ‘inappropriate’ encounters between NYC school staffers, students since 2009: report
- Joe Biden to Boston bombing survivors: ‘America will never, ever stand down’
- FBI failed to throughly vet Boston bombing suspect after Russian lead, report finds
- Atlanta Braves flooded with Hank Aaron hate mail: He’s a ‘scumbag’
- University: Help, our campus is too white
Chechnya, a hotbed of Islamic extremism, producing separatists with increasingly jihadist tone
Chechnya, a Connecticut-sized republic that is part of the Russian federation, has been a hotbed of Islamic extremism since its failed war for independence in the 1990s destroyed the capital Grozny and most of the country’s infrastructure.
U.S. intelligence officials said if the two Boston Marathon bombers are linked to Chechnya-area terrorists, it would mark the first time the Russian conflict has spread to U.S. targets.
Chechens, inspired by an ideology which has evolved from nationalistic fervor into transnational Islamic extremism, have staged dozens of terror attacks in Russia since the war began in 1994.
Over the last decade, the separatist insurgency in Chechnya has taken on an increasingly jihadist tone, with fighters traveling to Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas to join other extremist groups, and staging terrorist attacks like the one in a theater in Moscow in October 2002, in which 700 hostages were taken.
One hundred and thirty of them were killed when Russian special forces flooded the theater with narcotic gas.
Chechen separatists were also behind a 2004 hostage-taking at a school in Beslan, Russia, that killed more than 330 teachers and pupils, and bombings in Moscow and other cities.
In 2010, a Chechen refugee — a one legged amateur boxer — was implicated in an Islamic extremist plot last to blow up a newspaper in Denmark.
Regional specialist Matthew Rojansky, deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called Chechnya an “open sore” on Russia’s southern border — an area known as the North Caucasus. The strategically vital area borders the formerly Soviet-ruled republics of Georgia and Azerbijan.
The whole region is a complex patchwork of ethnic and linguistic groups which are majorities in one area, minorities in another.
In 1991, as the Soviet Union was breaking up, Dzhokhar Dudayev, a Chechen politician and former Soviet air force general, overthrew the local communist government, staged elections for the presidency, which he won, and then unilaterally declared Chechnya’s independence from Russia.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Mr. Dudayev pursued “aggressively nationalistic, anti-Russian policies.” After three years, the Russian military began backing armed groups seeking to overthrow him.
On Dec. 11, 1994, Russian troops invaded Chechnya, taking the capital Grozny after a four-month long artillery campaign that reduced much of the city to rubble.
Chechenya’s largely Muslim population continued to resist the Russian occupation for several years — mounting a nationalist guerrilla campaign and even staging elections after Mr. Dudayev was killed in 1996. Former guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov was elected president and signed a provisional peace treaty in May 1997, leaving Chechnya’s eventual status undetermined.
Russia invaded again in late 1999 after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed Chechen secessionists for bombings that killed scores of civilians in Russia, although there was no definitive evidence of Chechen involvement.
The Britannica says the wars in 1990s killed up to 100,000 people in Chechnya and displaced more than 400,000. Of the region’s almost 1.3 million residents, ethnic Chechens make up about 95 percent, according to Russian government statistics. The rest are a combination of ethnic Russians and other North Caucuses ethnic groups.
In 2009, the Russian-backed Chechen regime of President Ramzan Kadyrov and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declare that the insurgency had been crushed and that Russian counterinsurgency operations in the republic would end.
Human rights groups said Mr. Kadyrov used a ruthless campaign of extra-judicial torture, killings and imprisonment to defeat the insurgency, which even today continues sporadically.
In March 2010, Chechen extremists claimed responsibility for bombings on the Moscow subway that killed more than 40 people.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- Game players don't think peace has a chance in Syria
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Al Qaeda mocks U.S. in 'extraordinary' Yemen gathering; experts fear C.I.A. caught flat-footed
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Wal-Mart forced to apologize for 'mistake' favoring English-speaking shoppers
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes