With More Suicide Bombings, Does Russia Face New Threat?

Two more attackers target Russian police

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Two suicide bombers in the Russian province of Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, have killed 12 in an attack targeting police. On Monday, two suicide bombers killed 38 in an attack on the Moscow subway. Experts in and outside of Russia quickly suspected that Chechen separatists were behind the bombing. We covered the nature of Chechen terrorism and the affects this attack could have on Russian politics. The latest bombings raise the question: is this another wave of the terrorism erupting from the Russian-Chechen war? Or is Russia now facing a different, perhaps more dangerous threat?

  • How Chechen Terror Evolved: The Internet  Foreign Policy's Paul Quinn-Judge explains "the dramatic speed with which the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus is changing" is due to its ability to connect to the rest of the world through technology. Chechen insurgents' passionate calls to arms, distributed via DVD and the Internet, are driving recruitment from faraway Muslim states like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This has transformed the insurgency from a local group with local, political aims into a more global Islamic terrorist effort.
  • This Is Not 'Global Jihad'  Terror analysts writing in The New York Times explain, "Many Chechen separatists are Muslim, but few of the suicide bombers profess religious motives ... Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad. As we have discovered in our research on Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, suicide terrorist campaigns are almost always a last resort against foreign military occupation. Chechnya is a powerful demonstration of this phenomenon at work."
  • Medvedev: This Is About Poverty  Echoing the American military's belief that Afghanistan's insurgency is rooted in the nation's poverty, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "made a point of publicly discussing poverty and unemployment in the North Caucasus, which he has said are the root causes of violence there." But The New York Times' Ellen Barry suggests that public outrage over the vicious attacks could "derail" his "softer" approach to terrorism.
  • Putin 'Fostered' This Threat  The Boston Globe insists that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sowed these seeds with his harsh handling of the last Chechen conflict. "By refusing any political compromise with Chechen nationalists and installing a local thug to enforce the Kremlin’s will in Chechnya, Putin prepared the way for Islamist extremists to gain a foothold across the North Caucasus." They insist, "In Russia, terrorism is the domestic legacy of an imperial past. To alleviate that threat, the Kremlin would have to accommodate true Chechen self-rule."
  • Chechen Strife Must Be Resolved  The Nation's Olga Razumovskaya considers the possibility that "Russians will never be safe until there is a political and economic solution to the decades-long war and occupation of Chechnya and the surrounding regions." She says Russians "had been misguided by their own leaders, President Dmitriy Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, about the extent of the problems that still remain in the Caucasus." Only an end to the human rights abuses at Russia's hands in Chechnya can end the terrorism.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.