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The Rise of the Russian Khalifat: The View from the Jihadist Side

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

Russia, similar to many other parts of the globe, continues to be affected by terrorism, mostly since the beginning of the conflicts in the Caucasus. While started by the Chechens after the beginning of the First Chechen War (1994-1996), terrorism and resistance to Moscow in general soon moved outside Chechen borders, absorbing representatives from other ethnic groups of the Caucasus and beyond. As a result, what originally had been mostly a Chechen nationalist movement finally transformed itself into a multi-ethnic force where the liberation of Chechnya from Russian rule became just one aspect of the struggle. Moreover, nationalist-minded Chechens seemed to have moved to the margins of the resistance, for increasing numbers of the resistance members could well go to the official Chechen leadership.

While nationalistic and, in a way, a moderate model of the Chechen resistance became increasingly unworkable, jihadism provided an increasingly acceptable modus operandi. To start with, jihadism emphasises an ideological, Muslim identity and discards any sense of ethnicity, nationalism in general, that separates Muslims from each other. Secondly, jihadism promulgates the creation of a universal Khalifat as the final goal. Khalifat is seen as the ideal society, in a way similar to that of the “thousand-year rule of Christ” and/or communism, each of which actually transcends history as it is known. All of this has led to the increasing influence of jihadists among the members of the Chechen resistance, and a final split between them and the nationalist-minded members of the resistance.

This paper presents a detailed analytic account of the recent developments within the Chechen resistance, as well as the jihadist ideology, and terrorism in the North Caucasus and Russia in general.

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University South Bend


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