by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
|Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal|
Umarov has taken responsibility for a number of mass terror attacks that have been carried out since 2010 in train stations and Domodedovo Airport, where 76 people were killed. In parallel an organization that calls itself "Anonymous Caucasus" threatens to launch cyber attacks against Russia for holding the Winter Games in "occupied Caucasia". The Russians are preparing many and varied means of security in order to defend the participants and the spectators, but terrorists know how to find the weak points even in tight security belts. Besides, Russia is large enough for terror to find opportunities to attack targets outside of Sochi.
When a Muslim wants to say "Allah preserve us" he expresses it with the words "Allah Yustur" - may Allah hide us from misfortune. It seems that these days the Russian Federation must be saying this phrase very earnestly, because Russia is now the center of concentrated Islamist terrorist activity. Islamic terror in Russia is not new: we all remember the mass terror attack on the school in Beslan, located in north Ustia on September 1, 2004 when about twenty Chechen jihadists under the leadership of Shamil Basayev seized it, holding hundreds of people hostage, students, teachers and parents. When the army became involved 186 of the hostages were killed. The drama continued for three days while the whole world stood transfixed, watching the horror that was widely covered by the media. The terrorists had planted bombs throughout the school, which caused many casualties among the hostages and military people.
Back in 1995 Chechen jihadists seized more than 1500 hostages in the city of Budyonnovsk in northern Caucasia, and under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin the state was constrained to capitulate to their demands. This capitulation infuriated many Russians and subsequently helped Putin, who believes in ruling with an iron fist, to replace Yeltsin and wage an all out war against the troublesome Chechen district. This war is divided into two periods. The first, 1994-1996 and the second 1999-2009. The capital city of Chechnya - Grozny - was turned into a pile of ruins, many of the cities and villages of the district were destroyed, thousands of people were killed, and Russian soldiers had no problem kidnapping and torturing women, the elderly and children. Many jihadists are still hiding in the Chechen mountains today, occasionally attacking Russian soldiers and Chechen soldiers who are suspected of collaborating with the Russians.
In 2002 Chechen jihadists seized a theater in Moscow and held 916 people hostage. Approximately 170 men and women were killed in this event. Over the years Muslim terrorists have carried out many attacks in Russia, in revenge for the Russians having oppressed them for many years, beginning with the days of communism, which denigrated Islam as well as other religions. Karl Marx, the spiritual father of communism, had clearly stated that religion is the "opiate of the masses". After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russians were freed from their control of large Islamic populations, and this allowed them to tighten the reins on the Muslims that remained within the Russian federation.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union allowed several Muslim peoples in the south of the country to become independent, and this explains how Muslim states such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan were established within central Asia. Other Muslim peoples - including Chechens, Tatars, Ingush, Pamir, Dagestan, Avar, Azerbaijani, Dargin, Kumyk, Lezgian, Lak, Nogai, Aghul, Rutul, Tabsaran and Mongols - did not win independence and remained under the control of the Russian boot. Many of these peoples were disappointed, and some are just waiting for the right moment to demand independence.
Out of about 143 million citizens of the Russian Federation, the number of Muslims stands at between 14 to 20 million, which is 10 to 14 percent. Most of them are concentrated in areas south of the Volga River, in North Caucasia and in western Siberia. Many of them migrated to cities and their neighborhoods are now bases for terrorists. The state tries to push them out of the cities, especially after terror attacks, but they return to their employers in the city in order to work, earning a low salary. The Russian army does not publish official data about the religion of its soldiers, but it is estimated that most of the lower ranking soldiers in the Russian military are Muslims.
For seventy years the Soviet Union ruled the state with the slogan "a brotherhood of peoples", which was nothing but a cover for subjugating other peoples to the Russian hegemony. This situation created tension between the Russians and the Muslims, many of whom thought of the Russians as Christians who were ruling over Muslims, a situation that is totally against Islam. As part of the trend of Russification of the population, the Russians transferred millions of Russian speakers to Muslim areas, which also raised the level of tension and hostility between the Muslims and the Russians.
Also, Russians are concerned about the demographic situation that operates against them: the birth rate among the Muslims is much higher than that of the Russians, and many Russians feel that the Muslims are taking over the country. A day does not pass in the cities of Russia without skinheads, drunk on vodka, attacking Muslims that they encounter. [On the other hand, drinking alcohol - which is forbidden in Islam - lowers the Russians' value in the eyes of the Muslims.
Islamization in Caucasia
Historically, Islamic consciousness has been fairly weak among the residents of Caucasia, and only a few of them were acquainted with the holy scriptures of Islam. This was a result of the fact that most of the Muslims in Caucasia had been forced to convert to Islam or be slaughtered in the days of the Ottoman Empire. In the past twenty years - and especially since the fall of the Soviet Union - there has been an increase in the activity of Islamic propagandists among the population of Caucasia working under Saudi influence and money, and there are local imams who are trained in Saudi madrassas in order to strengthen their knowledge of Islam. In Saudi Arabia they studied Islam according to the Wahhabi, radical version and then returned to their homeland spreading the radical ideas that they had absorbed in Saudi Arabia. Currently Saudi Arabia finances the jihadist activity in Syria, which is against Russian interests.
Russia is not alone in this matter: for many years Saudi Arabia has been fueling the Islamic flames in many countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, North America and South America. It seems to me that of all the continents on the earth only Antarctica has no such Saudi Islamic activity. The Islamic uprising of the Uighurs in western China is also related to Saudi activity.
In recent years, in addition to the Saudi activity, the media can also be used to spread Islam. There are satellite television channels, Internet sites in many languages, and entire Islamic libraries that can be easily downloaded from the Internet free of charge - all of these, which are generously financed, were funded, are being funding and will continue to be funded lavishly by Saudi Arabia, in order to spread Wahhabi Islam to all corners of the Earth.
The distance between Islamization and actively engaging in the struggle for Islam is not great, and therefore it is no wonder that Islam - which had been swept under the rug of the Soviet regime - is surfacing so violently today.
The International Background
In the past three years Russia has been identified with Syria in the cruel and dirty war that the
Sunni Muslim masses are fighting against the heretical Syrian Alawite regime, which is supported by the Shi'ite coalition of Iran, Iraq and Hizb'Allah. Russia has defended the Asad regime in the General Assembly and has prevented the imposition of international sanctions against it. Russia supplies Asad's army with weapons and ammunition, air and naval defense systems, communications equipment and technical consultation.
There are a few Chechen jihadist groups fighting in Syria and their people are known for the cruelty and brutality with which they relate to those of Asad's people that fall into their hands. On the Internet there are some video clips in which Caucasian looking jihadists - one of them a redhead - are seen slaughtering people whom they were told are collaborators with the Syrian regime. In recent days collaboration agreements were signed between the Chechen groups and the Arab jihad organizations that operate in Syria such as al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra.
A severe problem will be created in Russia if and when the fighting in Syria stops, with the return of these Chechen jihadists to their homeland. There is a fairly good chance that they will not return to the plow and sickle, rather, they may continue the jihad against the Russian state, and the experience that they have accumulated in Syria will stand them in good stead in their war with Russia.
Also, the fact that Russia supports Shi'ite Iran does not raise Russia in the esteem of the Caucasian jihadists who are mostly Sunni. Lately it has become known that there are contacts between Russia and Iran regarding the sale of four nuclear reactors for the production of electricity, in addition to the political defense that Russia grants to the Ayatollahs' regime.
And These are The Names...
In the days of the Soviet Union many names of Muslim people were changed to Russian names, but their origin is clear enough: Kadar became Kadirov, Umar turned into Umarov, Muhammad took on the name Megumadov and Abed al-Latif turned into Labdulatipov. Atiyya became Latayev, Daud is now Daudayev, Sadallah became Sadilayev, Ibrahim is Ibrahimov, and only Ramadhan remained Ramazan because it is the name of the month of fasting.
Few of the Muslim peoples in Russia adopted Russian names, whether because of national and religious pride or because of the fear that the Russians would suspect them of planning to infiltrate the Russian population. There is a claim that the hatred and fear between the Russians and the Muslims in the Russian Federation has also permeated the Russian Jews who have lived in Russia and then migrated to Israel. This is perhaps the source of the claim that the political party Israel Our Home, which is based on immigrants from Russia, is accused of a hostile agenda - even transfer - regarding Arabs and Muslims in the State of Israel.
Regarding this, apparently, the Rabbi of Kotsk said: "more than that it is difficult to take the Jews out of the diaspora, it is difficult to take the diaspora out of the Jews..."
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.