The Russian Interior Ministry reports that over 400 Chechens traveled to Syria to join radical Islamic groups, mainly ISIS, since the civil war broke out in 2011.
“A total of 405 people, according to our data, have left Chechnya to join the fighting in Syria on the side of the Islamic State since the beginning of the war in that region,” said the spokesman. “Among those, 104 have been killed and 44 came back, while the fate of the rest is unknown.”
Outside of the Middle East, Russia is the largest contributor to ISIS. While leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hardly shows his face, the terrorists plaster military leader Omar al-Shishani’s face all over their propaganda. ISIS featured him in a video last August from one of their children training centers, who showed off their military skills for al-Shishani.
Chechens in Syria threatened President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and vowed to liberate Chechnya and Russia’s North Caucasus in a video released last September.
“We will, with the consent of Allah, free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus!” said the fighter. “The Islamic State is here and will stay here, and it will spread with the grace of Allah! Your throne has already been shaken. It is under threat and will fall with our arrival. We’re already on our way with the grace of Allah!”
The Islamic State allegedly shot the video at an airport in Raqqa after they seized it from the Syrian Army. A Russian speaker describes the jets and military equipment to the IS fighters. He confirms it all came from Russia.
“This message is for you, Vladimir Putin!” said the fighter. “These are the aircraft you sent to Bashar [Assad], and we’re going to send them to you. Remember that!”
In March, a man named Abu Dudjana shared a message on his VKontakte (Russia’s version of Facebook) from Russian women within ISIS that encouraged other Russian women to join them in Syria. The ladies claim they are in “the blessed land of Sham,” which is the name other caliphates have used for a region that includes most of Syria. They ask their sisters “in the lands of the infidels” to join them, since Russia “is a state of humiliation and shame.”