Why the Volgograd Attacks May Not Make an Attack on Sochi More Likely

Three terrorist attacks in Volgograd in a short period of time — a female suicide bomb attack on a bus on 21 October 2013, a male suicide bombing at the train station on 29 December 2013, and another male suicide bombing on a bus on 30 December 2013 — have attracted considerable media attention and prompted security concerns over the Winter Olympics in Sochi. A common reaction to such events is to imagine the worse and anticipate further attacks, in this case on the Games themselves. Given the dire security situation in the North Caucasus and what appear from the outside to be repeated security failures by the Russian security services (including the failure to arrest and obtain usable intelligence from alleged rebels), this doesn’t require a great stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, there are a few reasons why the Volgograd attacks do not call for a rethink of the security situation at the Games and do not make an attack in Sochi more likely than a week ago. Continue reading “Why the Volgograd Attacks May Not Make an Attack on Sochi More Likely”

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Backgrounder on the Mujahideen of the Caucasus and the Levant

This article provides some basic background details on a splinter group of foreign jihadists fighting in Syria that now calls itself the Muhajideen of the Caucasus and the Levant (MCL). Although a peripheral group even in the context of foreign fighters or jihadists in Syria, it is worth examining if only because even a small group of fighters can cause instability, and because its leader’s tendency towards self-promotion may manifest itself in other ways than the occasional video. Also, because Western media reporting about the timing of split and the orientation of the group has been woefully misleading (see Chechen Rebel Leader in Syria Quits. Long After Being Fired). Continue reading “Backgrounder on the Mujahideen of the Caucasus and the Levant”

Chechen Rebel Leader in Syria Quits. Long After Being Fired

It’s interesting to see that a video showing Emir Seyfullakh, an ethnic Chechen rebel leader fighting in Syria, proclaiming his group’s separation from Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar has garnered media and Twitter attention today. In reality, there’s little new in the story: Umar al-Shishani, a fellow Chechen who heads Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar – a rebel group operating primarily in Aleppo Province that has a sizable contingent of fighters from the Former Soviet Union and that appears to have become part of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – publicly split with Seyfullakh in early August. It is unclear whether the video is new – since the split, Seyfullakh has lost access to Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar’s Russian-language media platform, FIsyria.com and appears to be reliant on new YouTube accounts to release his videos – but the story certainly isn’t. Continue reading “Chechen Rebel Leader in Syria Quits. Long After Being Fired”

FSB Detain Four Suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir Members in Bashkortostan

Bashkortostan’s FSB have detained four suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in an operation in Ufa on 27 August. The four men – identified as Yevgeniy Kulagin, Rasim Satayev, Aleksey Khamadeyev, and Aidar Garifyanov – are accused of “preparing to forcibly take power” in order to advance the organisation’s goal of establishing a “Worldwide Islamic Caliphate.” (RIA Novosti, 29 August 2013). Continue reading “FSB Detain Four Suspected Hizb ut-Tahrir Members in Bashkortostan”

Authorities Identify Group Responsible for Ingushetian Security Chief’s Murder

(Artur Getagazhev, Ingushetian Interior Ministry website, captured 28 Aug 13)
(Artur Getagazhev, Ingushetian Interior Ministry website, captured 28 Aug 13)

Russian authorities claim they have identified the group that attacked a car belonging to Akhmed Kotiyev, head of Ingushetia’s Security Council, in Nizhniye Achaluki on 27 August.  According to a statement posted to the Investigative Committee’s website, a group led by Artur Getagazhev and operating in Malgobekskiy Rayon carried out the attack, which left Kotiyev and his police driver dead. The Investigative Committee also claimed that the weapons used in the attack had been used to perpetrate other crimes in the republic, including attacks on police officers (Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, 28 August 2013) Continue reading “Authorities Identify Group Responsible for Ingushetian Security Chief’s Murder”

The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Three

For a recent university paper, I conducted an exploratory study into how the Caucasus Emirate uses the microblogging site Twitter. I’ve extracted some of the key points of the study for your reading pleasure — although it’s worth noting that the full paper contains more details and references the relevant literature.  This third post looks at links contained within tweets, draws some conclusions from all three posts, and suggests some avenues for further study.  See The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part One for details on the study subjects, the accounts that they follow, and the paper’s definition of extremism; see The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Two for details of interactions with other users. Continue reading “The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Three”

The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Two

For a recent university paper, I conducted an exploratory study into how the Caucasus Emirate uses the microblogging site Twitter. I’ve extracted some of the key points of the study for your reading pleasure — although it’s worth noting that the full paper contains more details and references the relevant literature.  This second post looks at interactions with other users.  See The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part One for details on the study subjects, the accounts that they follow, and the paper’s definition of extremism. Continue reading “The Caucasus Emirate on Twitter — Part Two”