ISIS in Dagestan

When I was in Jerusalem at a conference on Russia and the Muslim world in May, the Russian representative announced that “terrorism has been wiped out in the North Caucasus.”

This attitude exposes Russia’s incredibly short-sighted approach to the region. You would think that after 300 years of pushback from the Caucasus peoples to Russian imperial/colonial policies Moscow would realize that any status in the region is strictly temporary.

And while I was aware that until recently terrorism in the North Caucasus had declined significantly, I’ve now read several reports of recruitment efforts by ISIS. What’s most ominous is that the recruiters aren’t trying to get young men from the Caucasus to travel to Syria to fight the Assad regime, but rather to initiate acts of terrorism in Russia. And some incidents are occurring in the relatively quiescent Northwest Caucasus, a sign that recruiters have infiltrated the entire region.

Fears of allowing ISIS recruiters into the country is of course a motivator for Moscow’s truculent refusal to allow Syrian Circassians to return to their ancestral homeland.

This was another sign for me that Moscow is definitely fearful of ISIS infiltration: the same Russian representative in Jerusalem claimed that the Syrian Circassians have been too “Islamicized” to allow into Russia. I had considered the demographic issues, the land shortage issue, as well as the general ethnic hostility between the Circassians and the Slavic population of the Northwest Caucasus as factors affecting Russia’s failure to address the Circassian problem, so the Russian representative’s focus on Islam as the problematic factor took me by surprise.

Here’s the most recent article on the subject in Kavkazskii Uzel:

Three people killed on January 11 after an attack on a traffic police post in the Karabudakhkent region have been identified and an accomplice has been detained, the National Antiterrorism Committee said today.

As “Caucasian Knot” wrote, on January 11, three alleged militants were killed in a shootout with security officials,. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) released a video from the scene of a shootout.

The bodies of those killed have been identified, the NAC said today. According to the ministry, these people were involved in the recruitment of young people into the Islamic State terrorist organization, banned in Russia by the courts, and helped the militants operating in Kaspiysk who were eliminated during the counterterrorist operation in 2017, the NAC TASS reported.

“It has been established that they planned to attack one of the objects of a religious cult as well as law enforcement officers,” he quoted the Interfax committee report.

According to the Ministry, security forces detained an accomplice of the militants, a native of Kaspiisk. Previously, he was prosecuted for helping the armed underground and threatening the lives of police officers, the NAC said. “He confessed about the creation of a terrorist cell, and the plans and intentions of its members,” NAK RIA Novosti quoted the report as saying.

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