The recent Moscow metro bombings have deep historic and religious roots. Russia should reevaluate counterinsurgency policies, root out corruption, and counter the growth of radical Islam.
Monday’s subway suicide bombings, which left 39 people dead and wounded 70 more in Moscow, was allegedly carried out by the Black Widows, a cell of female suicide bombers from the North Caucasus, has deep historic and religious roots. This is the time for the Russian government to review the failing counterinsurgency policies, rooting out corruption and inefficiency and countering the growth of radical Islam.
Russia occupied the Northern Caucasus in the 18th century, sparking a gazawat – a “holy war” or jihad – in Dagestan and Chechnya that continued until the 1860s. The Chechens rebelled again in the 1920s and ’30s, only to be crushed by the Soviets.
Stalin loaded the Chechens and the Ingush in cattle cars and shipped them to Siberia in 1944. Hundreds of thousands perished. After they returned from the exile in 1956, things were relatively calm until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Chechens declared independence. The Russians, fearing disintegration of their Federation, attacked in 1994. But the Chechen insurgency – known for its hostage-taking tactics – ultimately defeated the Russian Army, which withdrew in 1996.
By 1999 the original, secular Chechen leadership had been replaced by jihadist thugs supported by Al Qaeda. The Taliban was the only foreign power to recognize independent “Ichkeriya.” Slave markets and weapons bazaars flourished. Arab emissaries financed, trained, and equipped the Chechen mujahedeen. Reports of kidnappings and decapitations became common news headlines.
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