Staunton, September 7 – Official actions, both Daghestani and Russian, are driving more young people into the ranks of the militants, more than making up for the number who have been killed or captured by counter-terrorist efforts or who have left to fight in the Middle East, according to Daghestani legal specialist Rasul Kadiyev.
Three weeks ago, republic head Ramazan Abdulatipov declared that “on the whole, in Daghestan, we have been able to defeat terrorism” (dagpravda.ru/rubriki/politika/27458401/). Especially during campaigns, Kadiyev says, politicians can say anything, but this claim is false (kavpolit.com/articles/komu_v_dagestane_vygodny_zajavlenija_o_pobede_nad-28043/).
That is shown by the government’s own statistics. The republic procuracy noted that in the first seven months of 2016, there were almost as many “crimes of a terrorist nature” as there had been in all twelve months of 2015 and that the number of militants remained almost constant even though 900 went to fight in Syria (ria.ru/incidents/20151210/1339467067.html).
That is especially striking given that Makhachkala claims that it killed 173 militants in 2011, 231 in 2012, 167 in 2013, 167 in 2014, and 96 in 2015. One need not be a scholar to see that “the Daghestani underground is constantly being filled from within,” just as was the case in earlier years (www.Kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/73122/).
Why is this happening? According to Kadiyev, there are both ideological and economic reasons, and the authorities are doing things that make going into the forest to fight against them ever more rather than less attractive.
On the one hand, there is corruption and official malfeasance that the authorities seem to thrive on rather than to oppose. Given the importance of justice in Islamic thought and the promises of militants that they will wipe out such shortcomings if they take power, it is no surprise that many young Daghestanis are attracted to their cause.
But on the other hand – and Kadiyev suggests that this is by far the more important reason – young people are joining the militants because Abdulatipov and his regime have adopted policies which make joining the underground an increasingly attractive option.
By limiting the ability of young people to move from impoverished auls and districts and thus earn a living, the authorities have created a situation in which many young Daghestanis can earn more money fighting for the militants than they can be not doing so, Kadiyev continues. Not surprisingly, many realize this and make an entirely natural choice.
To be sure, he adds, “there are risks involved in being part of the terrorist underground, but if these risks are significantly less than those they are likely to experience while obeying Russian laws, then the choice of a participant in the illegal armed formation can be explained” and explained easily.
“Not all [of those who join the militants] do so for money! Correct. But those who fight for ideological reasons are in fact investing their human capital in a terrorist ideology having also calculated that there is no profit in putting it into the Russian legal field.” And so they too are driven by economic calculations that the authorities have unintentionally encouraged.
Unless that changes, unless the authorities recognize their mistakes in this regard, Kadiyev says, the size of the militant underground will not decline but grow; and the threat it will represent to those very authorities will grow rather than decline regardless of what they say during election campaigns.