Staunton, March 24 – The terrorist incident in Chechnya on March 20 was the first this year and the third for all time that ISIS has claimed responsibility for, an indication that the group, although banned in Russia, continues to attract new adherents that could form the basis of a new radical challenge to Ramzan Kadyrov and the Russian state, Denis Sokolov says.
In a comment for the Kavkaz-Uzel portal, the head of the RAMCON Center for Social-Economic Research in the Regions says that the appearance of a new radical political project in Chechnya could arise in Chechnya in the near future, attracting local people and outside funders to that cause (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/318244/).
Moreover, he continues, “we may see a new political project which will be formulated in Islamic and national terms and which will be able to unit representatives of various trends within Islam,” something that could represent a serious threat to political stability not only in the North Caucasus but more generally across the Russian Federation.
Sokolov points to four factors which he argues are influencing “the radicalization of the Muslim community of Russia as a whole:
· “The first factor is political discrimination against Muslims as a whole” and “the criminalization of any political activity by religious activists.”
· “The second factor is that Muslims as a result of this political discrimination do not have any of their own political projects and consequently are drawn into Al Qaeda or ISIS, both of which are prohibited in Russia.”
· “The third factor is the intensive process by which Muslim young people are split off from their local communities and their efforts to find themselves in an already globalized world.”
· And the fourth factor involves “the marginalization of Islamic ideologues, people who are authorities and spiritual leaders,” who are viewed with distrust by the secular state and cannot maintain themselves except by linking up with Islamist groups.
The Kavkaz Uzel agency noted that reports about the attack in Grozny appeared on the Arabic language Internet already on the same day and that Russian versions of these were up and available two days later, an indication that those preparing them were well organized and quite capable of action.
Moreover, Joanna Parashuk of Janes Defense Weekly told the agency that the Russian authorities have not been successful in blocking even the Russian language sites; and Irina Borogan, an independent Russian expert who edits Agentura.ru, said that the FSB can’t even translate the materials on Telegram despite having the keys because they are in code.
If Russian officials are to be effective at countering the recruitment of young Russian Muslims into ISIS, she says, they need to conduct serious operational work within the terrorist milieu. But as of now, that is something that Russia’s special services and law enforcement agencies find very difficult to do. As a result, they are falling behind the ISIS recruiters.