Cauldron of Terrorism or Bowl of Kasha? What Survey Data Say About the North Caucasus
July 6, 2006
"Policy makers in Russia and elsewhere have good reason to worry that the North Caucasus has become a dangerous cauldron brewing extremism and terrorism. For well over a decade, the region has been the site and source of increasing levels of violence,instability, and terrorism. Following the ceasefire that ended the first Chechen war in late 1996, terrorist bombings and incursions in Dagestan provoked the Russian government to send in federal troops once again in October 1999. The ensuing military conflict, which continues to this day, has produced massive numbers of military casualties, civilian victims, and refugees, involved shocking brutality against civilians, and fostered a surge in terrorist actions in the south and elsewhere in Russia. In October 2002, 130 died after Chechen terrorists seized 900 hostages in downtown Moscow’s “Dubrovka” theater. Guerrillas based in Chechnya pulled off a lethal raid in Ingushetia in June 2004. In September 2004, following two airplane bombings and a metro bombing in downtown Moscow, terrorists raided a school, holding over 1000 hostages, in Beslan, North Ossetia, resulting in the deaths of hundreds, many of them children. In October 2005, over 60 people died in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, when local youths joined terrorists from Chechnya in an assault on police and security forces. Explosions involving both civilian and government casualties have occurred on a nearly daily basis for several years now in southern Russia, the vast majority of which are never reported in the Western press.2 Apart from these overt manifestations of violence, longer term tensions between the many different ethnic groups that reside in the region, reportedly rampant police brutality, sustained poverty, and the possible radicalization of the many Muslims are additional grounds for concern."