Chechen Terrorism: What You Need to Know
Islamist fighters from the region have fought a long war of independence against Russia
After a dramatic night that included a shootout, the murder of a police officer and the death of the one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, authorities are on the hunt for remaining suspect, whom the AP identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old who is reportedly a Chechen national living in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his brother, the slain second suspect, for the past several years.
It’s important to note that the reports of the suspects’ nationalities remain unconfirmed; however, they have Chechen surnames and a photo essay reportedly profiling the elder Tsarnaev, Tamerlan, quotes him as saying, “Originally from Chechnya, but living in the United States since five years, Tamerlan says: “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
Chechen terrorism may be less familiar to most Americans than that carried out by fighters from the Middle East or Afghanistan and Pakistan, but Chechen separatists have fought a long and bloody war against Russia in the region’s long war of independence from Moscow.
Chechnya, a small, predominately Muslim region in the Caucuses between Georgia and the Caspian Sea in Southern Russia, has been a hotbed of separatist violence since the start of the First Chechen war in 1994 — the same year that Tsarnaev was reportedly born. As Joshua Yaffa, a Moscow-based journalist wrote, The “whole generation knows only conflict.”
While the Russian military fought a brutal “dirty war” against Islamic fighters in the region that reportedly included extrajudicial disappearances and killings, Islamist terrorists carried out a campaign of terror and violence against innocent Russian civilians all over the country.
Dokka Umarov, an Islamist Chechen separatist leader, is one of Russia’s most wanted men and has earned the name of “Russia’s Osama Bin Laden” for his involvement in numerous attacks. Al Qaeda has also been loosely tied to Chechen terror groups.