The proclamation of the Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz, or IK) in October 2007 marked a watershed moment in the evolution of conflict in the North Caucasus, one that changed the ideological rationale for armed resistance. Remarkably little attention, however, has been paid to the substance of that rationale. This article redresses this gap by examining how local leaders sought to shape the meanings of the conflicts that they were engaged in and mobilise people to action. It demonstrates that the IK’s leadership articulated a weakly developed political program that often failed to explain what the insurgency was fighting against or seeking to achieve, instead focusing their attention on moulding local identities. In doing so, however, the leadership frequently failed to address practical concerns or overcome existing political boundaries to establish a regional insurgent identity. The article demonstrates the benefits of moving beyond instrumental and doctrinal considerations of ideology and reveals the insights that can be gained by considering important questions of identity.
Click here to read the full (open access) article in Perspectives on Terrorism.