Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Daghestanis Who Fought for ISIS in Syria Now Rejoining Radicals at Home, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 25 – Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee has announced that Russian forces have killed nine militants in southern Daghestan in recent days an indication, experts say, that young Daghestanis who went to Syria to fight for ISIS have now returned home and resumed their fight there together with those who have been radicalized but never left.

            In short, these killings confirm what many observers had long predicted and feared: any victory over Islamist forces in the Middle East will lead those from the North Caucasus to return home, recruit others, and continue their fight, a trend that suggests there will be an upsurge in violence in the coming weeks and months.

            Magomed Magomedov, a correspondent for Makhachkala’s Chernovik newspaper, and Ruslan Kurbanov, the head of the Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus, made these points in a conversation with OnKavkaz’s Ilyas Bukarov (

            Bukarov said that in his view, “the renewal of the activity of the militants can be connected with the inevitable defeat of the illegal armed formations in Syria.”  Young Daghestanis who went there appear to have decided “to relocate back to Daghestan,” he said but added that he hoped he was “mistaken” in that interpretation.

            Magomedov said that regardless of how many are returning, “the radicalization of young people” in Daghestan has been so great that their numbers have not been significantly reduced by those who left to fight “in Syria or other places.”  And that radicalization is leading to the formation of more militant groups.”

            And Kurbanov said that the situation with regard to religious radicalism especially in southern Daghestan is complicated by the fact that officials are uncertain how to deal with the conflicts among the Sufi, Salafi and Shiia communities and the conflicts “found within practically each family between believing younger generations and their unbelieving relatives.”

            He added that the success the authorities had in northern portions of Daghestan had blinded them to the rise of such militants in southern Daghestan in and around Derbent. But with the return of ISIS fighters from Syria, “the activization of armed groups [there] is completely explicable” and will likely spread northward.

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