Chechens Abroad

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 1 Issue: 10

Two events underline the trans-national element in Islamist militancy, and cast light on hitherto unexpected distribution of Chechen militants. On December 2 a Chechen national was killed in Pakistan in a military operation in the south-west provincial capital of Quetta. Following a tip-off from a Chechen arrested earlier, [ November 30] a 10-hour long gun battle took place when Pakistan security agencies raided a house thought to be a Chechen rebel hideout. Documentation seized after the raid confirmed the ethnicity of the militants. Two days later, in preparation for the weekend visit by President Putin to Turkey – where the thorny subject of popular Turkish sympathies with the Chechens will have come under the spotlight – security authorities moved in on a dozen suspected militants of Chechen nationality or Chechen descent residing in Istanbul. During the raid anti-terror police and intelligence services seized weaponry. The Anatolia news agency reported December 5 that police had linked them to al-Qaeda.

The two incidents, though not related, together serve to highlight the dual nature of the militants fighting in the north Caucasus state: nationalist-focused insurgents, along with militants whose aims are directed at a more supra-national conception of jihad. It underlines also the two-way traffic of such links, not only drawing in Mujahideen of Arab and other nationalities into what is a nationalist fight in Chechnya, but also drawing out Chechens onto a broader arena through jihadist radicalization at the military training level.