ISSN 2330-717X

‘No Confirmed Evidence’ Of Al Qaeda Role In Caucasus Resistance

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There is “no confirmed evidence” that Al Qaeda has played a role in the militant movement in the North Caucasus, and Moscow’s claims to the contrary are yet another effort by the Russian government to avoid facing the real basis for the anti-Moscow movement in the region, a Makhachkala journalist says.

In an article the current issue of “Nastoyashcheye vremya,” Ruslan Gereyev says that “representatives of Al Qaeda of course were in the North Caucasus” at various times “but they did not play a major role,” and “the general movement” there did “not depend on them, a sharp contrast to the situation in Bosnia or Somalia (gazeta-nv.ru/content/view/5988/109/).

Gereyev acknowledges that Al Qaeda operatives have visited the North Caucasus and that the organization has provided some funding for militants there, but “the Arabs have never achieved control of the administration of the resistance movement in the North Caucasus.” Instead, Gereyev says, “local Islamists have used” the Arabs rather than the other way around.

North Caucasus
North Caucasus

“Many who act in the North Caucasus,” he continues, “do not have direct ties to Al Qaeda,” and it is even more the case that “Al Qaeda itself has never had great influence in the North Caucasus,” despite all the claims that have been made by the Russian special forces to the contrary.

The Russian security services have tried to link the North Caucasus militants ot the Arabs by ascribing membership in Al Qaeda to Khattab and all Arabs who have appeared in the region, but the numbers of such people have been relatively small. And they do not snow that bin Laden ever realized control over what is taking place” in the region.

Under contemporary conditions, “there is no need” for Arabs to turn to Al Qaeda as the only possible source for support. “People coming from North Africa, the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have for a long time already their own channels of financing. They do not need Al Qaeda in order to carry out a jihad, including in the North Caucasus.”

As Gereyev notes, “experts have more than once declared that the information of the [Russian] sp[ecial services about the activities of Al Qaeda in the North Caucasus is not shown, although according to the data of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, the terrorist network of Al Qaeda continuously finances the leaders of the armed Caucasus Emirate.”

But as the Daghestani journalist points out, “up to now, the causes which are giving birth to terrorism, including social, political, economic, and inter-ethnic conflicts,” especially in the North Caucasus, have not been eliminated by Russian government policies. Instead, Moscow hopes to win the sympathy of the West by suggesting Al Qaeda is behind Russia’s problems.

As a result, despite “the liquidation of bin Laden,” the level of terrorism throughout the world, including in the North Caucasus, will not change. Instead, his death at the hand of the Americans is likely to open “a Pandora’s box” of problems. Indeed, the Taliban of Afghanistan have already declared that they will take revenge.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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