4.02.2010

Chechnya follow-up

Regarding the Moscow subway bombings and follow-up bombing in the Caucasus, the New York Times reports that the initial incident does appear to be linked to Doku Umarov:
Ms. Abdullayeva’s husband was said to have been appointed a commander last spring by Doku Umarov, a former Chechen separatist who is now a proponent of global jihad and who took responsibility for organizing the subway attacks.
Radio Free Europe notes that Umarov was a nationalist until he "found religion" and took up the banner of Islam:
...Umarov has risen from a rank-and-file fighter to command a network of insurgent groups across the North Caucasus. He has jettisoned the cause of Chechen independence in favor of an independent Islamic state comprising swaths of the North Caucasus, southern Russia, and the Volga region. He has also abandoned his previous repudiation of terrorism, affirming in his most recent statements that it is a legitimate weapon in light of what he calls the Russian population's indifference to the systematic reprisals inflicted on the Chechen population by Russian military and security forces.
It is an interesting transformation. The Islamist position is certainly more maximalist, seeking a larger Caucasian state, but given the dynamics of the spread of fighters from Chechnya into neighboring regions, I wonder if it's really as surprising as it's painted here. With the calls for a severe response to the attacks, Russia's inability to create a theory of citizenship that encompasses non-Russian, non-Orthodox peoples will only serve to hinder its ability to create an alternative to the nationalist-Islamist dynamic at work now.