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WASHINGTON – Russia is increasingly concerned that North Caucasus militants now fighting in Syria will return to Russia’s southern provinces to wage warfare against Russian forces throughout the country, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The fight in the North Caucasus of the southern Russian provinces of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria is being led by Dokku Umarov, who recently reversed a previous decision not to attack civilians and intends to carry his battle into Russia’s interior.
Umarov is leader of Islamist militant fighters who want to turn the predominantly Muslim provinces into the Caucasus Emirates.
While initially opposed to Chechens fighting in Syria, Umarov has reversed his position now that he’s worked out a deal with Emir Salautdin, who is leading the North Caucasus fighters in Syria, for those militants to return to Russia to fight under his command.
Indeed, a number of fighters in Syria are wearing T-shirts with “Imarat Kavkaz,” which means Caucasus Emirates.
The prospect of battle-hardened fighters returning from Syria comes at a time when the security situation in Russia is deteriorating, not only in the North Caucasus but also in other parts of the Russian Federation, such as the Volga region.
Even ethnic Russians from the Volga have joined the North Caucasus militants to fight in Syria. That all has caused growing apprehension that those fighters, fresh from Syria’s battlefields, will continue at home in Russia.
Umarov has shown he has a capability to strike within Russia as a result of a bomb attack in April 2011 on Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport. At the time, Umarov took personal responsibility for the terrorist act. The bombing killed some 37 people.
A year earlier, in March 2010, suicide bombings at two Moscow subway stations killed some 40 people and injured another 100. At the time of the attacks, 500,000 people were commuting on Moscow’s metro system. Umarov had also taken responsibility for this attack as well and it marked the change in his policy of not attacking civilians.
Umarov has pledged such attacks will occur until Moscow grants independence to the Muslim provinces in the North Caucasus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected such a notion even though the Russian government has been pouring millions of dollars into the region to improve economic conditions in the North Caucasus countries.
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