Russia Can No Longer Ignore the Islamist Threat

The Chechen wars began as an attempt to wrest power and autonomy, if not independence, from Moscow. The message from the Dagestan attacks at the weekend is that a different sort of conflict is taking over – less like those earlier wars and more like the attack on the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow in March, where 145 people were killed. Several of those arrested for involvement were linked to Dagestan. At the time, the Russian authorities played down a claim of responsibility from ISIS-K (Islamic State – Khorasan Province), an offshoot of the jihadi Islamic State group. But Crocus City now looks like the start of a new and murderous trend of Islamist violence.

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Of particular concern to the local authorities, as to the Kremlin, will be that two of the suspects in the Dagestan attacks, who were killed at the scene, were sons of a local official, who was subsequently sacked as well as detained and questioned by police. Another was a well-known wrestler. (The authorities have not officially confirmed their identities, but they have been widely reported in the media.) That they had all gone essentially undetected suggests that adherents of Islamic State or its affiliates are deeply embedded in the local establishment.

Almost as worrying to the Kremlin will be the evidence that Russia’s relative immunity – compared with, say, parts of Central Asia – to the appeal of jihadism may be fading.

Ed Morrissey

This isn't really new, though. ISIS took credit for an attack in March on a Moscow musical venue that killed 145 people. Islamists conducted a similar terror attack in 2002, where Russian efforts to use sleeping gas killed the vast majority of the 132 hostages that died. This appears to be a continuing campaign that gets very little press outside of the Russian Federation rather than a new development. 

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