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Militant Islam: Russian Northern Caucasus & FSU Central Asia

This survey of Al Qaeda and its regional clones and lookalikes is a part of a series which has so far covered: AQAP The Arab peninsula; AQIM The Islamic Mahgreb including the Sahel; ‘Black Africa’: from the southern fringes of the Sahel, as well as an overview: “Islamic Holy Warriors - Where is terrorism going”?

Links to all of these are at the foot of this Bulletin.

This attention to the five former Soviet Central Asian states and the southern republics of the Russian Federation, principally in the Northern Caucasus, is partly because the most geopolitically significant of the various challenges of extremism are to be found here.

Four of the five former Soviet Central Asian states lie along a route from Afghanistan to southern Russia. All of them are to some extent crossed by various long established heroin trails, from Afghanistan through the other ‘stans to Russia. But it is not the drug smuggling that has immediate geopolitical significance. This is the land route from the epicentre of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Russian North Caucasus. There, the struggle for independence has been a feature of life in Chechnya since it was conquered by a 19th Century Tsarist army, after some 30 years of war.

Now that independence struggle has been subsumed into jihad.

As the Afghan conflict slowly winds down, we have become aware in our reports on the Central Asian FSU republics, of clashes due to the gradual move northwards of bands of jihadists from Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is obvious that Moscow regards this trickle of religious warriors as a further contamination of their restive Moslem republics, which if not checked, is set to become perhaps the biggest armed challenge that they are likely to face in our times. It could become nothing less than a challenge of southern republics of the Russian Federation against Orthodox Russia to their north.

This confrontation was perhaps the main purpose of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as China too has very similar problems in its enormous western province of Sinkiang. Russia and the FSU Central Asian states are the other signatories. The SCO aims are to counter:- “Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism.” Regrettably, SCO ‘Separatism’ does not distinguish between extremist violence of the jihadi kind and non-violent aspirations for independence, of which the west has experience and would regard as a legitimate struggle. Otherwise, there would probably be universal agreement with these aims.




"al Qaida, Aqim and Aqap in the wake of the Arab Spring" (Jan 2012)


"Radical Islam in Black Africa" (Sept 2012)

"Islamic Holy Warriors: Where is terrorism going"? (April 2013)


Also published on our blog page Bulletin, 15th May 2013|New Nations - a not for profit company
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