News that the suspected Boston Marathon bombers were of Chechen heritage came as no surprise to those who have studied the ties between the Russian Caucasus and Islamism.
In fact, “congressional researchers and foreign policy analysts have long tracked a connection between the Chechnya region and Islamic extremists sympathizing with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
When the Taliban was at its apex in Afghanistan, its ties to Chechnya were documented. Moreover, Ibn al-Khattab was an Al Qaeda-connected Chechen warlord who is said “to have met with Osama bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.”
These ties to terror are so strong that Middle East analyst Walid Phares actually speaks of “the Chechen jihadi network.” Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton says Chechen rebels are motivated by two things: “a desire for independence from Russia and Islamic radicalism.”
In describing the Chechen jihadi network, Phares stressed his concerns over how far-reaching it might be. For example, he fears that the Boston Marathon bombers may have had “logistical support” within the U.S.
Photo credit: Mikhail Evstafiev/Wikimedia