When Al Qaeda jihadist terrorists attacked the U.S. World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, it was part Osama bin Laden regarded the USA as the “far enemy” who propped up all the “near enemies” in the Arab world.
But for many of the jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, the “far enemy” is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, not the USA. A large number are Chechens, a Muslim nationality living mostly within the Russian Federalion, or Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs or others living under regimes in Central Asia that are propped up by Russia.
One of Putin’s first actions when he came to power was to ruthlessly crush the independence movement in Chechnia. The justification was a series of terrorist attacks that were very likely a false flag attack by the Russian FSB.
Since then many Chechen fighters have been driven out of Russia, and are now fighting the Russian-backed Assad government of Syria, along with Uzbeks and other nationalities from the former Soviet republics.
Some analysts think that the export of jihadists is a conscious Russian strategy. The best outcome, from the Russian point of view, is that they die fighting in Syria. But even if they survive, they have made themselves known to Russian intelligence services.
Saudi Arabia does the same thing with its jihadist rebels—suppresses them at home and encourages them to go wage war in other countries.
I think the cease-fire brokered by President Putin and the government of Turkey between the Syrian government and the non-ISIS, non-Al Qaeda rebels is a good thing.
But if Putin’s government allows, or even helps, radical jihadists from Russia and the former Soviet territories to join ISIS and Al Qaeda, there is no hope for peace anytime soon.
The other great danger is a proxy war in the Middle East, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the side of Iran and its Shiite and Alawite allies, and Trump’s USA on the side of Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies (which is the policy inherited from previous administrations).
Vladimir Putin’s Latest Export: Terrorists by Michael Weiss and Katie Zavadski for The Daily Beast. Hat tip to O.
How the Russian Fighters of ISIS Became a Terror Threat in Turkey by Simon Shuster for TIME.
In Turkey, a Chechen Commander Makes Plans for War in Syria by Marcin Mamon for The Intercept.
The Coming of the Russian Jihad by Leon Aron for War on the Rocks.
The Coming of the Russian Jihad Part 2 by Leon Aron for War on the Rocks.
Vladimir Putin announces cease-fire between Syrian government and rebels by Josie Ensor and Roland Oliphant for The Telegraph.
Illustration via Russia Insider.