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Jihad comes to Boston: The Chechnya Connection

Fox News reports, “Ties between Islamic extremist groups and Chechnya well-documented. [C]ongressional researchers and foreign policy analysts have long tracked a connection between the Chechnya region and Islamic extremists with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the suspects are indeed Chechen, analysts told Fox News they may represent part of a jihadi network which has made its way to American soil. “The Chechen jihadi network is very extensive,” Middle East analyst Walid Phares said Friday. “They have a huge network inside Russia and Chechnya.”

Chris Kyle in his autobiography American Sniper wrote that during the 2006 battle of in Ramadi,  Iraq, “I saw a whole bunch of guys standing there in desert camouflage—the old brown chocolate-chip stuff from Desert Storm, the First Gulf War. They were all wearing gear. They were all Caucasian, including one or two with blond hair, obviously not Iraqis or Arabs… We looked at each other. Something flicked in my brain, and I flicked the trigger on the M-16, mowing them down. A half-second’s more hesitation, and I would have been the one bleeding out on the floor. They turned out to be Chechens, Muslims apparently recruited for a holy war against the West. (We found their passports after searching the house.)” [My emphasis]

Clare Lopez, former CIA  Operations officer and Russia expert, in a statement to WDW noted, “This attack is not about Russia. This is an act of jihad. As time goes on our best friends are the media who will get into the background of these two men and reveal the truth.”

Time/Yahoo News reports:

Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout earlier today, appears to have been sympathetic to Islamist radicalism. Five months ago he appears to have created a channel on YouTube called “Terrorists.” The channel features videos from the one of the leaders of the insurgency in Dagestan who goes by the name Amir Abu Dudzhan. YouTube appears to have removed two of the videos but in a third features Dudzhan calling for jihad. Holding a Kalashnikov rifle, he says, “Jihad is the duty of every able-bodied Muslim.” Among the other videos on his channel is one of Timur Mutsuraev, the bard of the Chechen resistance in the 1990s; it features his song, “We will devote our lives to jihad.” See Tamerlan’s video list here.

Here is the video on  Tamerlan’s YouTube channel calling for jihad by Amir Abu Dujana Rabbanikaly:

Reuters reports:

“Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev posted links to Islamic websites and others calling for Chechen independence on what appears to be his page on a Russian language social networking site.

Abusive comments in Russian and English were flooding onto Tsarnaev’s page on VK, a Russian-language social media site, on Friday after he was identified as a suspect in the bombing of the Boston marathon.

Police launched a massive manhunt for Tsarnaev, 19, after killing his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a shootout overnight.”

Click on image for a larger view.

According to Reuters:

On the site, the younger Tsarnaev identifies himself as a 2011 graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His “World view” is listed as “Islam” and his “Personal priority” is “career and money”.

He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salamworld, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.

He also has links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for secession after two wars in the 1990s.

The page also reveals a sense of humor, around his identity as a member of a minority from southern Russia’s restive Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and other predominately Muslim regions that have seen two decades of unrest since the fall of the Soviet Union.

A video labelled “tormenting my brother” shows a man resembling his dead brother Tamerlan laughing and imitating the accents of different Caucasian ethnic groups.

The Washington Post provides this background on Chechnya:

The Chechen conflict dates to the early 1990s. In the summer of 1999, fighters in the predominantly Muslim republic rose up in an attempt to throw off Russian domination. Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, responded quickly, firmly and brutally to put down the rebellion.

Later that summer, there were several explosions across Russia and Putin blamed Chechens. Putin sent the army back by force, which resulted in Western criticism of Russian tactics and human rights violations.

In the most dramatic episode, about 40 armed Chechen separatists took more than 900 hostages at a Moscow theater. After a two-day siege, Russian special police pumped a chemical agent into the theater’s ventilation system and raided the building. About 130 hostages died, and all of the Chechens were killed.

Though the war has officially ended, the Russians have maintained a tight grip on Chechnya, backing a strongman friendly to Moscow and maintaining a robust military presence. Efforts have also been underway in recent years to rebuild the shattered capital of Grozny.

Still, sporadic violence and kidnapping have continued in Chechnya and separatists retain a following. The years of fighting, crime and economic difficulties led tens of thousands of Chechens to leave their homes for other former Soviet republics.