A Chechen Connection To The Boston Bombing?
Over the past few hours, it has emerged that two people suspected of involvement in this week’s bombing at the Boston marathon are brothers of Chechen or Dagestani origin. Terrorists from the Russian republic of Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus have been behind many attacks in Russia since the 1990s, but this would appear to be the first time that Chechens have been linked to an attack in the US.
But why would Chechens want to target the US?
The Chechen war for independence from the Russian Federation began as a nationalist struggle in the 1990s, but because Chechens and many other ethnicities in the North Caucasus are Muslim, the movement gradually attracted the support of radical Islamists from the greater Middle East. As the Russian onslaught on Chechnya intensified, and the Chechens became more desperate, it is thought that many became radicalised.
Although President Vladimir Putin’s administration was eventually able to subdue Chechnya, mainly by co-opting Chechen fighters who had become disgruntled with the Islamisation of their struggle, the Kremlin never really managed to restore peace in the North Caucasus. In fact, other republics in the region such as Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria have succumbed to a low-level Islamist insurgency in recent years.
If the Boston marathon bombing was indeed caused by individuals from Chechnya or the North Caucasus, they were likely radicalised by globally-minded Islamists inspired by al-Qaeda.
Aside from the US tightening its domestic security arrangements, Russia will also be more vigilant. The next Winter Olympic Games are to be held in Sochi in early 2014, and Sochi is in the region of the North Caucasus. It is highly likely that Islamist militants will seek to disrupt the event, which is a major prestige project of President Putin himself.