Staunton, July 21 – Young Daghestanis don’t view those of their compatriots who have gone to fight for the Islamic State as enemies but rather as victims of “brain washing” or “unresolved social problems” at home, according to a new study by three scholars at th Center for Youth Research at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg.
Iskender Yasaveyev, Nadezhda Vasilyeva, and Alina Mayboroda conducted 49 in-depth interviews with Daghestanis aged 17 to 27 in Makhachkala who have been active in youth Internet communities there (sociologica.hse.ru/2017-16-2/207149695.htmliq.hse.ru/news/207691593.html).
Their key findings include:
- “Those who join ISIS are viewed not as enemies and traitors,” rather as people “who have made a mistake” and brought suffering to their families and friends.
- “Often,” the respondents said, “leaving for ISIS is connected with unemployment and the need to support one’s family,” something many young Daghestanis find very difficult in the current economic crisis.
- Those who recruit people to fight for ISIS are individuals “who know how to conduct a conversation” and whom most “find it difficult to resist.”
- “The main channels of recruitment are social networks and skype, “through which both ‘recruiters’ inside the republic and those who are located beyond the borders of Daghestan and Russia communicate.”
- Many young Daghestanis are afraid to talk about these things because they fear the information will get back to the special services and they and their families will suffer. For the same reason, most do what they can to avoid attracting attention whatever they think.
- “However, none of the interviewees called for the severe punishment ‘of those who went.’” Instead, the study found, “a repressive anti-terrorist policy which affects a wide circle of people” doesn’t “enjoy the support of young Daghestanis.”
- “The majority on the contrary” suggested that “’the best anti-terrorist policy is a good social policy,’ with a solution found in the region to the problems of education and employment.”