Russia: terrorism trends show extension of threat far beyond Northern Caucasus



The growing number of terrorist attacks reported over the last months in Northern Caucasus Federal reflected alarming trends caused by the leadership struggle within the main terrorist network active in the region, i.e. Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate). 

The first trend to mention is the intensification of the threat in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria republics. According to data of the Russian counter-terrorism committee, more than 50 percent of the terrorist-related incidents that took place in the region in 2010 were perpetrated in Dagestan.

Moreover, most of the attacks carried out in the neighbouring republics of North Ossetia or Kabardino-Balkaria involved Dagestani terrorists. To recall, the counter-terrorism committee reported that 205 police officers were killed and 489 injured in the region since the beginning of the year. This trend can be explained by ongoing shifts in leadership within the Imarat Kavkaz. Since August 2010, a group of young “field commanders” leaded by newly proclaimed “Emir of Chechnya”, Khussein Gakaev, demanded the resignation of terrorist leader Doku Umarov. Eager to prove their power, Umarov’s competitors launched series of violent attacks against “symbolic” targets in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Northern Ossetia.

Another alarming tendency is the spreading of the terrorist threat beyond the borders of Northern Caucasus. Investigation conducted over terrorist attacks perpetrated in other federal districts, including March 2010 metro Moscow Bombing, showed they were planed from Ingushetia and Dagestan. Terrorist cell based in these republics indeed gained the means to orchestrate attacks far from their sanctuaries.  Moreover, several radical Islamist cells were dismantled in the Far East and in some regions of Central Russia over the last two months.  All had links with spiritual leaders of Imarat Kavkaz who have called Jihad to “liberate Islamic territories occupied by Russia.”

When proclaimed by terrorist leader Doku Umarov as a “State” in October 2007, the Caucasus Emirate comprised only the republics of the Northern Caucasus Federal District: Stavropol Krai, Northern Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya. Recent statements however demonstrated the willingness of local terrorist leaders to extend the perimeter of the virtual territory to other regions such as Bashkortostan and Tatarstan republics or Rostovskaya oblast, which are also presented as “occupied lands of the Emirate”.
It must lastly be pointed out that the growing influence of the Imarat Kavkaz’s various terrorist cells has triggered a radicalisation of a rising part of the local Muslims, mostly among the most vulnerable categories of population. The same fact has been noted in Central Asian republics, were spiritual leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) gained influence in the past months. Given the scale of migration from North Caucasus republics and Central Asian states, the risk to see Islamist cells set up in regions previously unaffected by terrorist threat must be taken into account.

© 2012 ESISC - European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center Powered by Advensys