What makes a terrorist? Nationalism? Religion? Alienation? Yes — and often in some combination of all three.
If you’re surprised that two young men, who identified themselves as Chechens, are the suspects in the Boston bombings, you shouldn’t be. And in this case all three ingredients came to a boil in a metaphorical pressure cooker. Chechnya has long claimed oppression by the Soviet and Russian governments and has demanded independence. During World War II, Stalin forcibly relocated Chechens to Siberia and Kazakhstan and they were not allowed to return to their homeland until the mid-1950s. In retaliation, extremists have turned to terrorism.
Essentially, the Chechens are a people alienated and disenfranchised politically. Additionally, their religion, Islam, separates them further, both culturally and religiously, from rest of the Russia.
Early reports show that the brothers who are suspected in the bombings in Boston were Chechen refuges who fled to Kyrgyzstan before receiving green cards to come to the United States: nationalism, religion, and alienation.
(A note from Glittersnipe. While the following terrorist attacks were the works of Islamic extremists, all religions have had their extremists: from Hindus in India, Muslims in Pakistan, Buddhists in Burma, Catholics in Spain, Protestants in Britain — and the list goes on. Don’t be angry at the religion or the region; be mad at the radical ideology and the individual.)
Unlike most terrorists, Chechens generally do not rush to claim involvement in their attacks; however, in many cases their ties have been linked conclusively — others are “supposed involvement” as deigned by the Russian Federation. For myriad purposes, we have chosen not to defer to Muscovite speculation regarding involvement in these allegations; rather, our list is of confirmed Chechen attacks.
1. Two bombing in 1999, one in a shopping mall, another in an apartment building in Moscow claimed sixty-four victims.
2. One of the most dramatic terrorists attacks in the past two decades involved the hostage-takover during a performance at the Dubrovka Theater in downtown Moscow. In October 2002, upwards of fifty Chechens stormed the theater, taking over 800 theater-goers hostage; the terrorists, bearing allegiance to an Islamist separatist movement, demanded that the Russian Federation remove their troops from Chechnya and grant the region independence.
More than two days passed before Russian military, in a controversial move, pumped in an unknown soporific gas though the ventilation system rendering everyone in the theater immediately immobilized. By the time Special Forces, wearing riot gear and gas masks, overtook the theater forty terrorists were killed, while 130 hostages died from the inhalation of the chemical agent.
3. In Nalchik, Russia, in 2005 riots ensued led by Chechen rebels who targeted the airport and various government agencies. Over eighty people were killed.
4. The Nevsky Express, a high-speed train that runs from St. Petersburg to Moscow, was derailed by a bomb in 2009, which left twenty-seven people dead and nearly 100 injured. An Islamist separatist group calling themselves the Caucasian Muhahadeen claimed responsibility saying their were targeting Russian officials who were on-board.
5. In March 2010 two Islamist female suicide bombers blew themselves up within forty minutes of each other in two of Moscow’s subway stations, Forty people were killed; 100 people were injured. Two days later the town of Kizlyar, Russia, was bombed twice leaving twelve people dead.
If indeed it is proven that the bombings in Boston are the work of Chechen separatists, that will be number six. But why here? Isn’t this Russia’s problem. No. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, experts have linked Islamist Chechen terrorists with al-Qaeda — specifically Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the masterminds of the September 11th attacks, who recruited Chechens and taught them the dark arts of organized terrorism. And now this is happening.