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The New Chechen Jihad: Militant Wahhabism as a Radical Movement and a Source of Suicide Terrorism in Post-War Chechen Society


Abstract and Figures

The first act of Chechen suicide terrorism occurred on June 7, 2000 and was carried out by two young women. This inaugurated the migration of suicide terrorism from other conflict zones, into the Chechen conflict. How suicide terrorism as a tactic made its way into Chechnya is the topic of this paper, which provides an analysis of the events concerning the importation of militant ideologies and radical terrorist movements taking place since the Chechen declaration of independence as well as an empirical and theoretical analysis of Chechen suicide terrorism based on psycho-social interviews that were collected in Chechnya over a two-year time period from March 2003 to March 2005. We report data about suicide terrorism and the radicalization process from thirty-two interviews with family members and close associates of thirty-four Chechen suicide terrorists, inquiring about the terrorists' backgrounds, experiences, religious, and psychological reasons leading up to their suicidal acts.
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Reference for this paper: Speckhard, Anne & Akhmedova, Khapta (2006) “The New Chechen Jihad: Militant Wahhabism as a Radical
Movement and a Source of Suicide Terrorism in Post-War Chechen Society” Democracy & Security 2:1-53, 2006 (This version is a prepublication
copy and differs slightly from the published copy – for direct quotes please use the published copy).
The New Chechen Jihad: Militant Wahhabism as a Radical Movement
and a Source of Suicide Terrorism in Post-War Chechen Society
Anne Speckhard, Ph.D.
Khapta Akhmedova, Ph.D.
The first act of Chechen suicide terrorism occurred on June 7, 2000 and was carried out by two young
women. This inaugurated the migration of suicide terrorism from other conflict zones, into the
Chechen conflict. How suicide terrorism as a tactic made it’s way into Chechnya is the topic of this
paper, which provides an analysis of the events concerning the importation of militant ideologies and
radical terrorist movements taking place since the Chechen declaration of independence as well as an
empirical and theoretical analysis of Chechen suicide terrorism based on psycho-social interviews that
were collected in Chechnya over a two-year time period from March 2003 to March 2005. We report
data about suicide terrorism and the radicalization process from thirty-two interviews with family
members and close associates of thirty-four Chechen suicide terrorists inquiring about the terrorists’
backgrounds, experiences, religious, and psychological reasons leading up to their suicidal acts.
Recent history of Wahhabism in Chechnya
Wahhabism is a non-indigenous form of Islam originating in the Arabian Penisula in the 18
from a reformist movement begun by Mohamed ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703-1791) to return Islam to its
original purity. Wahhab based his ideas on a strict interpretation of the Quran and his movement had
as its central tenant the oneness of God. He condemned idolatry in all forms as well as anything that
could possibly be interpreted as an intermediary to God, ordering the destruction of sacred tombs,
shrines, etc. He also not only allowed, but also called for waging war on fellow Muslims who had
reverted back to a state of jahiliyyah – the state of barbarism and ignorance that prevailed in the
Arabian peninsula prior to Mohamed’s revelations
. Wahhabism as a belief system, although not in
itself necessarily militant, is the subset of Islam that has been used to inform the terrorist ideology
which is at the basis of the current worldwide salafi jihad.
Wahhabism, interpreted in its most radical and militant type also forms the ideological underpinning of
Chechen terror groups. While the label Wahhabism denotes a totally other and neutral meaning in the
Gulf States and elsewhere in the world, it should be understood that in Russia, Chechnya, the
Caucuses, and the other former Soviet Union republics this label denotes an ultra militant form of
Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical Center, and Professor of
Psychology, Vesalius College, Free University of Brussels and psychological consultant of Advances in Health. Mail to 3
Avenues des Fleurs 1150 Brussels; E-mail:
Khapta Akhmedova, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology, Chechen State University, Russia and Coordinator of the Psychosocial
Rehabilitation Program of Medecins Du Monde.
Islam and refers to militant religious groups that promote jihad and terrorism – so much so that in
Russian the word wahhabist has become synonymous with terrorist. For the purposes of this paper we
adhere to the Russian meaning of the word as it is understood in the Chechen context – we refer to
Wahhabists in Chechnya as those groups that have formed according to a militant interpretation of
Islam which promotes jihad and allows for and promotes terrorism. By doing so we mean no offense
to Wahhabists who practice Islam peacefully in other parts of the world (or in Chechnya for that
matter) and we fully acknowledge that this term has an entirely other peaceful meaning outside of
History of the Involvement of Islam in the Chechen Russian Conflict
There is nothing new about the use of religion as a rallying cry in behalf of revolution and pursuit of
social justice. Throughout the world religious rhetoric is often used for political gain and Islam like
any other religion can be used as an instrument for political and military mobilization.
Indeed in 1858
Chechen leader, Imam Shamil and his fighters attempted to establish an Islamic state, when then as
now, Islam was used as a rallying force - a call to solidarity against those seen as outsiders and
While Shamil’s uprising was crushed by the Tsar’s power, Islam itself, like all other religious
expression throughout the former Soviet Union came under attack in Chechnya during the Soviet years
by official policies of state imposed atheism. While many Muslims continued to practice in Chechnya
during the seven decades of Soviet power, as did believers in many other Soviet republics, it was in
most cases impossible to do so openly without risking job, education and even one’s life. Children
who learned their religion did so at home privately and in secret learning from grandparents and
parents. Ritual practices such as prayer, circumcision, commemorating feast days etc. were often still
carried out in secret but at risk. Many mosques were destroyed during this time period and only the
very brave or elderly dared to pray at the mosques or make other outward signs or statements of their
Hence with the fall of the Soviet Union many Chechens, as other former Soviet citizens were ignorant
about their faith roots and eager to learn more. In Chechnya however this set the stage for vulnerability
to adopting radical and nonindigenous beliefs that soon poured over the borders as the former state
imposed policies of barring religious expression were completely lifted. At the same time as this
massive political upheaval and influx of new ideas, Chechnya became subject to armed conflict,
another aspect that increased the population’s vulnerability to interest in militant and radical forms of
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechnya’s newly elected president Dudayev declared
independence - as did many of the other former Soviet republics (Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan,
Azerbaijan, etc.). While the Chechens declared their independence from Russia alongside these others,
the main difference between them was that Chechnya had been a state inside the Russian federation
whereas the others had never been part of the Russian Federation. They were independent republics of
a now disintegrated union. The Russians were ready to accept the collapse of the Soviet Union but not
of their own federation.
In 1992, a time while Russia was writing their own new constitution, Chechnya adopted a constitution
defining it as an independent secular state governed by a president and parliament. The Russian
Federation was having difficulties of its own at the time, and Yeltsin just coming out of coping with a
besieged Moscow largely ignored these developments. However in 1994 the Russian forces declared
the Chechen independence movement a rebel uprising and launched an armed attack to crush it. An
estimated 100,000 persons, many of them civilians, were killed in the 20-month war lasting from 1994
to 1996, which amazingly ended in a stunning victory for the Chechen insurgents who managed
through guerilla warfare tactics to drive the much better armed military Russian forces out. This
victory by the Chechen rebels in many ways mirrored the greater victory that had been won only a few
years earlier by smaller less well armed forces that had been victorious in driving the Soviet Union out
of Afghanistan.
Shamil Basayev who would later become the most important Chechen terrorist leader and mastermind
behind the most infamous terror acts including the Beslan school hostage taking in which children
fleeing the scene were shot in the backs by terrorists, was at this time not yet fully under the Wahhabist
influence. Returned from war he was hailed as a great hero and greatly loved by Chechens of all ages,
but particularly by young boys and men who admired how the great Russian army had been repelled
through his leadership during the war. Basayev harbored great ambitions for freedom. Even before the
first war he announced to the Chechen leadership that the independence movement beginning in
Chechnya would spread throughout the entire Caucasus region and that not only Chechnya but the
entire region would ultimately be freed from the Russians. Later his actions as a rebel leader and
terrorist acting both inside and beyond the borders of Chechnya would follow this sentiment and desire
to see his wish carried out.
Initial Stage of Wahhabism in Chechnya
During the fall of the Soviet Union, Muslims the world over were eager to support the resurgence of
Islam throughout the region and as a result money from richer countries poured into the former Soviet
republics to support the rebuilding of mosques, schools and other forms of Islamic expression. The
same took place in Chechnya. However with the move by Moscow in 1994 to crush the Chechen
independence movement and the subsequent war (1994-1996) this influx of foreign money took an ill-
fated turn. As the Russian forces invaded, the salafi jihadists who had just won their war with the
Soviet Union in Afghanistan turned their concern to other conflict zones involving Muslims. The
plight of the Chechens during the war and the numerous human rights abuses that occurred at the hands
of the Russians were well publicized; hence Chechnya became identified by these jihadi groups as one
of the most important new battlegrounds. Money which had already been pouring in from foreign
countries to rebuild Islamic institutions now became much more tightly focused on the perceived
oppression of the Chechens who were caught up in armed conflict to win their independence and the
militant form of Wahhabism which had sustained the Afghan jihadists began its journey into
Chechnya. It was carried in by many means, including via foreign fighters with Afghan war
experience who appeared in Chechnya to aid in what they saw as the jihad against Russia. The most
notable of these was Saudi born Khattab who came to Chechnya in 1995.
During the first war the goals of the nationalist rebels were clear: national independence from Russia.
Islamic identity of the Chechen nationalists did not play heavily into their rhetoric or actions. Indeed in
1992 Chechnya had adopted a constitution defining it as an independent secular state governed by a
president and parliament. Four years later however as the war was ending things had changed
dramatically. Chechnya’s first elected president Dudayev complained bitterly that, “Russia . . . has
forced us to take the Islamic path.”
He made this statement in response to the failure of both sides to
find a suitable end to the war of independence and his feeling that it drove the nationalists into the arms
of the better-funded and trained Wahhabists. Thus while the first war was essentially nationalist and
separatist in nature, even toward its end Chechen leaders were beginning to feel the effects of the
Wahhabist influence in terms of funding and ideology.
Perhaps the best evidence of this was Basayev’s decision to lead a potential “suicide” mission in the
traditional military sense of the word into neighboring southern Russia where he and his group staged a
mass hostage taking operation designed to break the resolve of the Russian government and force them
to give into his demands to a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and to end the war in Chechnya.
The first of two rebel raids took place in Budyonnovsk in June of 1995 but this place was only
accidental. The plan had been for Basayev and his group of about 100 to 200 fighters to bring the war
as far as they could into Russia where they would take hostages, but when surprised by the police in the
village of Budyonnovsk they gathered more than a thousand hostages from the town, held them in the
local hospital and engaged in a bloody stand-off with Russian troops. In this hostage-taking event
Basayev showed himself capable of ordering the execution of civilian hostages which he did when the
Russians refused his demand to hold a press conference before the gathered media. The stand-off
ended with the Russians giving the rebels safe passage (protected by hostages they took with them).
The death toll exceeded one hundred and thirty. This raid and the one that followed became pivotal
features turning the war in favour of the Chechens and forcing the Russians to a peace agreement, but it
was also the turning point for Shamil Basayev to move from warfare to terrorism purposefully
targeting civilians.
A similar event occurred in Pervomayskoe in 1996 this time led by Chechen fighter Salman Raduev.
In each of these cases the Chechen rebels garnered mass media attention for the war in Chechnya and
in the former they succeeded in forcing the Russians to give them safe passage back to Chechnya in
exchange for the release of hostages. At this time Basayev was already starting to pick up the militant
jihadist ideology from his Saudi fellow fighter and Wahhibit Khattab and reflected this in his increased
use of Islamic rhetoric - telling his fighters they could become “martyrs” for Islam etc. Likewise
Basayev’s audience was increasingly not only the Chechens and Russians but also foreign funders who
were likely impressed by his daring success and ability to back the Russians down.
The second war ended in a negotiated settlement (via the Khasavyurt agreement) after Maskhadov
ordered a raid on the Russian forces in Grozny who crumbled in resistance. The corrupt Russian forces
had sold many of their arms to their own enemy. Unprepared for the attack they were overwhelmed.
The Russians leadership had also lost their resolve after civilians had been attacked both in
Budyonnovsk and in Pervomayskaya. A negotiated peace was struck.
From 1994 to 1997 the Chechen people became extremely disillusioned. In November of 1994 before
the war was even officially declared by Russia, the Russian Army and pro-Russian Chechen opposition
had attacked Grozny with fifty Russian army tanks. Chechen fighters destroyed all the tanks and
captured Russian soldiers who admitted that they had official orders through Russian generals Shkirko
and Kotenkov to attack Grozny. From November 27 through December 10
, 1994 Russian airplanes
bombed Chechnya everyday, this still before the war was officially declared. Many civilians were
killed and their homes were destroyed. Looking for support from the west, Chechens were
disappointed to find that Western governments declared events happening in Chechnya as an internal
affair of Russia. Civilians understood that the war had begun despite no official acknowledgement of it
on the Russian side and many took arms to defend themselves.
On December 11
, 1994 the Russian government officially declared war naming it, “The actions for
restoration of legality, law and order in the territory of the Chechen Republic.” The decree was signed
by Yeltsin in late Nov, 1994 but not officially published until summer of 1995 as Yeltsin did not want
to call international attention to the armed conflict. The Russian Army came to Chechnya from three
sides: Dagestan, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Many civilians – women and elderly without arms
stood across the roads trying to block the tanks. Near the borders between Chechnya and Dagestan
civilians blocked a column of tanks and managed to capture sixty soldiers. From December onward the
Russian Army bombed Grozny for three months until they destroyed the capital city completely.
The Russians had expected a quick victory with few losses, hoping to send a strong message to any
other ceding republics, but found that they could not overtake Grozny. At this time the Russians
changed tactics and began to aim for a loss of twenty-five killed Chechens for each killed Russian
soldier and ten killed Chechens for each one wounded Russian soldier. Later Basayev would repeat
this rule to the Russian Army in Budyonnovsk where he took hostages, and it was echoed again later
by the Chechen terrorists in their mass hostage taking operations – in the Dubrovka theater (Nord Ost)
in Moscow and in Beslan where the hostage takers threatened to kill ten persons for each one of their
own that would be wounded
In May of 1995 the Chechen rebels were blocked in the mountains and had few variants to surrender.
They could continue guerilla warfare or try to move the war from Chechnya to Russia turning to the
use of terrorist acts. In June Basayev opted for terrorism and headed with his fighters into Russia
where he took over the hospital in Budyonnovsk. (Basayev claimed that he was able to cross
Chechnya and get as far into Budyonnovsk by bribing corrupt Russian forces at checkpoints.) One
hundred and thirty hostages were killed in this attack whereas at this point in time more than fifty
thousand civilians in Chechnya had been killed and about one hundred and fifty thousand wounded.
In July of 1995, after eight months of war between three to four thousand Chechen fighters and more
than fifty thousand Russian soldiers, a negotiated peace settlement was reached but not realized. At
this time Yeltsin declared that there is international terrorism in Chechnya and therefore the Russian
army could not win the war. The war continued and in January of 1996 Salman Raduev led the an
incursion into Dagestan taking over the village of Kizlyar and held hostages in the maternity hospital.
The rebels used the hostages to get as far as Pervomaysakya where they were attacked by Russian
forces. In March of 1996 Chechen fighters took Grozny and held it for three days but were driven back
to the mountains again. Finally in August of 1996 Chechen fighters took over Grozny. Massive war
actions with daily bombardments resulted in many civilian deaths and casualties. As a result of the
terrorist raids and Chechen fighters overtaking Grozny a peace agreement was finally agreed to and
signed. On the Russian side they had lost their resolve for the war, especially in the face of mass
hostage taking operations on Russian soil. On the Chechen side more than one hundred thousand
civilians had been killed.
Following the first war (1994-1996) Wahhabism in its militant form was imported full scale from the
Middle East into Chechnya. Even then it was linked ideologically to the global Salafi jihad in that
ideas promulgated by Wahhabists about engaging in jihad in order to liberate oppressed Muslims with
terrorism were put forward as an accepted method of resistance. However the Chechen form of this
ideology retained a nationalist character – jihad for independence from Russia rather than worldwide
In 1997 free from the constraints of war the Wahhabits were particularly active. They started to build
mosques that openly espoused a radical and militant form of Islam that was a new (to Chechnya)
version of Islam. This was a time when many in Chechen society were still eager to learn about their
Islamic roots and also vulnerable to militant forms of Islam – as most everyone anticipated that they
were living under borrowed time – that their hard won independence was likely to be short lived.
Armed conflict it was assumed by many would resume in only a matter of time. Money now flowed in
freely to Chechnya alongside foreign fighters and Arab teachers to fund a militant expression of Islam:
militant Chechen Wahhabism and the Chechen jihad were given birth.
Conflicts between Chechen Wahhabits and Traditional Chechen Sufism
The most prevalent version of Islam in Chechnya, prior to this influx, was and continues to be Sufism.
The new Wahhabist mosques put forth into Chechen society ideas not peculiar to traditional Chechen
experiences of Islam. Wahhabits however make use of shared Islamic doctrines as a means of
justifying their actions and in so doing began to create a conflict between Wahhabits and traditional
Muslims in Chechnya.
As Wahhabits spread their ideas they claimed that their version is the only true form of Islam.
Traditional Muslims made counter claims that Wahhabism is a pseudo-religion that was created to
destroy traditional Chechen Islam. The main differences between the two religious ideological stances
as they took form in Chechnya that gave rise to conflicts between Wahhabits and traditional Muslims
in Chechen society are as follows:
1. Traditional Chechen Muslims esteem Ustazies which are the spiritual teachers who first
accepted and distributed Islam in Chechnya. These priests knew the Arabic language and could
read and translate the Koran. Ustazies declared values of pacifism, mercy and compassion.
They were against any type of warfare. In contrast the new ideology proclaimed by Wahhabits
glorified war as the path of jihad and martyrdom as a main value that should be adopted by
every Muslim in Chechnya.
2. Traditional Chechen Muslims make use of prayer rituals of chanting, clapping their hands and
rocking the body, which is named “zikr”. Traditional Chechen Muslims glorify God by
chanting the name of Allah, some prophets and the Ustazies. Wahhabits condemn these
practices and call them idolatry. Wahhabits on the contrary use “nashids” prayers that repeat
portions of the Koran and Islamic writings that give glory to Allah, his one prophet Muhammad
and that invoke jihad.
3. Wahhabits distributed many new religious publications in Chechnya, the most prominent being
the book entitled “One God”. This publication took issue with any practices that did not strictly
reinforce the oneness of God and that made any use of intermediaries to God or glorifying any
of his prophets or saints, all of which are traditional Chechen Islamic practices.
4. Chechen men and women traditionally dress in European fashions and are free in their clothing
following only minimal habits of modesty that are common to many other European and
modern Muslim countries. By contrast the women who followed the Wahhabit ways began to
dress in hidjab, covering themselves in ways that Chechen women have never done so in the
past. Hence the Wahhabits proposed dress that differed dramatically from ethnic and modern
clothes of Chechen women. They likewise proposed a new image for Chechen men as well
with long hair, moustaches, beard and Arabic clothing.
5. Traditionally Chechen families consider the father as the head of the family. Wahhabits by
contrast promoted the concept of Muslim brotherhood stating that Muslim brothers (i.e. fictive
) are more important than parents and other family members. As a result conflicts arose in
many families where parents were no longer respected as they were in the past.
6. Wahhabits created in Chechnya Sharia courts in which they punished with beatings by canes
those who were caught drinking alcohol, using drugs and other crimes. Before Wahhabism
there were government courts for serious crimes but only public condemnation in society for
issues of moral trespass.
7. Wahhabism became an extreme trend in Chechen expressions of Islam. In Chechnya
Wahhabits killed traditional Muslim leaders who tried to resist their activity. The majority of
Chechens did not support Wahhabism but the assassination of traditional Chechen imams
became a means to silence the majority.
Secondary Stage of Wahhabism in Chechnya
Following the initial influx of Wahhabist mosques and schools promoting their ideology into
Chechnya, military training camps were created. In 1997 in anticipation of a repeated war with Russia,
the training center “KavKaz" was created in the mountain area of Chechnya. The leader of this center
was Saudi born Khattab who arrived after fighting in the Afghanistani jihad. Many other instructors
arrived from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, and also from Great Britain and France.
New links were forged through Khattab and his supporters further establishing connections between
sponsors in the Middle East and local pro-Wahhabi groups across the region.
The KavKaz center recruited young Chechens making use of the Wahhabist mosques and schools that
still at this time operated openly to indoctrinate and recruit potential members to their training camps.
The training program of the KavKaz center is similar to what is reported in al Qaeda operations
manuals in many aspects. They allow for and justify kidnapping, beating and killing of civilians and
hostages for achievement of “holy” goals. The “KavKaz” Center includes the Majlis al-Shura (i.e. the
Military Consultation Council). Likewise similar to other Islamic related terrorist organizations the
Wahhabit center uses the concept of “brotherhood” (i.e. fictive kin) which creates a strong as blood
bond between those who pledge loyalty to one another – being willing to fight for each other to the
death. The KavKaz Center operated legally from 1997-1999.
In July 1998 the Wahhabit military group attempted to take over the Chechen city of Gudermes. It was
the first armed attack of the Wahhabits against Chechen religious authorities. During that time Chechen
religious leaders had officially protested against Wahhabism on TV, in mosques and religious meetings
because Wahhabits killed the Mufti of Dagestan by a car bomb on July 21, 1998. Shortly after the
murder of the Dagestan Mufti there was unsuccessful attempt on the Mufti of Chechnya. Chechen
religious leaders banned Wahhabism and demanded the expulsion of foreign Wahhabits including
During the interim period following the end of the war in 1996 (via the Khasavyurt agreement) and the
ensuing war in 1999 striking conflicts developed between different factions within the Chechen
leadership. In 1996 prior to the end of the war Russian forces using a high tech missile guided by his
mobile phone had killed President Dudayev. In the power vacuum that followed two figures emerged
who would become the leaders of Chechen rebel and terrorist activities for years to come. The first of
these was popular war hero Shamil Basayev who had returned home from the war already influenced
by his close relationship to Khattab and who through Khattab was falling under the Wahhabists
influence. Not yet committed as he would become to embracing terrorist tactics, Basayev had seen the
effects of taking and killing civilian hostages in Budyonnovsk – how his action and that of Salman
Raduev taking hostages in the Pervomaysakya raid - had turned the course of the war and was likely
deeply influenced by this as he would later continue to endorse mass hostage taking tactics. The
second figure was the more experienced statesman Aslan Maskhadov, also a field commander and
former member of the Russian artillery brigade, who became president in 1997. Although forced
together in the end, Maskhadov unlike Basayev did not endorse extending the war beyond the borders
of Chechnya and never endorsed terrorism against civilians.
As the new president, Maskhadov facing a destabilized Chechnya found that even with his best efforts
he was erratic at halting the increased criminalization; kidnappings of high level Russians, Chechens
and foreigners for ransoms; and the other conflicts that were occurring. Moreover he was no match in
rebuilding the state infrastructure and installing a stable peace with Russia in the face of rampant
criminalization and the increasing material support for competing jihadist oriented groups who were
well sponsored by funds flowing in from the Middle East. Increasingly he faced pressure from
political, ideological and religious figures such as Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, Movladi Udugov, Shamil
Basayev, Ibn Khattab, Salman Raduyev, and others who advocated the Islamization of Chechnya.
1999 Chechen President Maskhadov gave in to pressure from the Wahhabists declaring Shariah law to
be phased in over three years. Despite playing into the Wahhabist’s hand Maskhadov never regained
control and the interim period between the two wars was marked by instability, criminalization and
insecurity as well as a marked increase in the Wahhabist influence in limited yet important sectors of
Chechen society.
In 1999 the fragile peace was broken. In September 1999 a series of apartment bombings occurred in
Moscow that were attributed to Chechen terrorists although that account is still under dispute in some
Likewise in August, 1999 rebel leaders Shamil Basayev and Ibn Khattab led a rebel incursion
into neighboring Dagestan to recover former Chechen ethnic territory
and to declare a reunited
Islamic state.
Third stage
In August 1999 when the Wahhabits attacked Dagestan, the Russians had their fill and invaded again -
beginning the second war in Chechnya. This time however the Russians changed tactics. Unwilling to
risk suffering defeat again at the feet of the now well trained and equipped Chechen guerillas, the
Russians opted instead for a campaign of carpet bombing which essentially razed the major cities of
Grozny, Argun, Urus-Martan and many villages and destroyed the infrastructure of the country.
Hospitals, universities, airports, cultural centers and apartment blocks - essentially everything became a
target for the months of bombings that ensued in 1999 and continued unabated for five months.
Civilians suffered the worst. Streams of refugees fled the country while the rebel nationalists now
driven into common unity and firmly entrenched with the well-trained Wahhabits battled against the
Russian army from August 1999 until March 2000.
By then the Wahhabit organization had become an underground guerilla and terrorist structure made up
of many small groups, or cells, similar to al Qaeda affiliates. Each of these groups included five
persons and one of these persons was Emir (i.e. commander) to whom the other four submitted. Each
of the groups had a certain territory and certain functions. Persons who accepted membership to such
group pledged never to leave them. If he attempted to exit, he would be killed. Each Emir was ready to
kill any of the four members of his group for treachery.
Fourth stage
Since the middle of 2000, the Russians had a firm foothold in Chechnya and the official end of the
second war was declared. However armed skirmishes continue up to the present as well as terror
attacks. Facing an armed occupation of Chechnya which included numerous and formidable
checkpoints, frequent aggressive and violent zachistki (cleansing or counter-terrorism) operations, the
Wahhabits were forced underground and changed tactics. They began to use suicide terrorism and
echoing their prior successes at Budyonnovsk in 1995 and Pervomayskaya in 1996, combined for the
first time in world history suicide terrorism with mass hostage taking.
Following the official end of the war it was no longer possible for the nationalist separatist rebels to
operate openly. As Dudayev had bemoaned earlier eerily forseeing the future, many of the rebels had
been driven into the arms of the Wahhabists. Maskhadov and Basayev were forced together in exile
into the mountain camps. Basayev increasingly began to leave behind his former identity as a
nationalist rebel leader, taking on the Wahhabist identity which included embracing terrorism, so much
so that in a press interview in 2005 Basayev openly said, yes I am a terrorist, although he called the
actions of the Russian forces against civilian targets terrorism as well.
Over time Basayev changed
his name to Imir Abdullah Shamil Abu Idris. Chechnya also was no longer referred to by its former
Soviet Union name but was called by the Wahhabits as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria although this
name was not Wahhabi in origin and had been given to it at the time when Dudaev declared
Despite the import and spread of militant Wahhabi ideas into Chechnya during the past ten years it is
important to state that the majority of the Chechen population continues to follow its Sufi roots and
popular support for terrorism does not currently exist. Initially militant Wahhabists tried to convince
traditionalist rebels that they were infidels and needed to convert. These Wahhabist organized their
own fighting units separate from the traditional rebels. Today however among the rebels, fighting
groups are mixed including both Wahhabists and traditional Sufi Muslims and many of these in words
at least attempt to maintain a distance from Wahhabi ideology and do not embrace terrorism tactics
against civilians nor endorse Basayev’s actions against civilian targets. Rebel leader Doku Umarov for
instance states that he came to the war as a patriot and has maintained his traditional Muslim beliefs,
never succumbing to militant Wahhabism.
He scoffs at being labeled a Wahhabi terrorist and clearly
denounces the Beslan school takeover and targeting of civilians. He states that it is an act of Russian
propaganda to mix the entire Chechen independence movement with Wahhabism labeling patriotic
soldiers as terrorists, “They say I am a Wahhabi or a follower of radical Islam. That is laughable. I have
a whole front. I go along that front and I don't see people fighting to bring to the world Wahhabism or
terror.” He goes on to speak of the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers and the anger and trauma
over these atrocities that motivates young recruits to continue to join the rebels to fight in a military
fight with Russian soldiers, leaving aside terrorism. Unfortunately these same factors motivate recruits
to the Wahhabi organizations as well.
It is only small sectors of the society that have become active Wahhabi communities, all of these which
emerged since the second war. Continuously since 1997 recruitment to the Wahhabit groups was
actively carried out. Recruiters looked especially for contacts with people whose family members were
killed, wounded, arrested or disappeared. Arriving in mass with money, training and arms during the
period between two wars, the Wahhabit recruiters understood how to make use of the psychological
state of traumatized people. They played upon the population’s anxiety, particularly of young people
that a foreign occupier would return to kill them, but that they (the Wahhabists) could train them to
withstand and fight back in the name of Allah. Fearing that the Russians were only biding their time
until a second war and also sure that revenge was warranted for the heavy losses in the first war, many
who had suffered in the first war fell under their influence. This is one of the most important bases for
how a movement so alien to Chechen culture as Wahhabism could attract so many persons from
different age, gender, education and social levels to involve themselves with suicide terrorism.
Chechen Suicide Terrorism
The first act of Chechen suicide terrorism
occurred on June 7, 2000 and was carried out by two
young women Khava Barayeva, cousin of well-known Chechen field commander Arbi Barayev and
Luisa Magomadova. Together they drove an explosives laden truck into the temporary headquarters
of an elite OMON (Russian Special Forces) detachment in the village of Alkhan Yurt in Chechnya.
This inaugurated the migration of suicide terrorism from other conflict zones, into the Chechen
conflict leaving stunned Russians and Chechens to ask what could possibly cause two young women
to choose to end their lives in this way and what organization and ideology backed such acts?
The organizational answer came in the form of claims of responsibility most often emanating from
Shamil Basayev who at this point had changed his name to Imir Abdullah Shamil Abu Idris and called
his group various names (Riyadus-Salikhin or Paradise Gardens) claiming at times to have a cadre of
female bombers. Basayev was holed up in the mountains evading arrest likely through a system of
bribes to poorly paid Russian soldiers and “contractniki” (contracted soldiers) who were eager to
augment their poor wages
Summary and Frequency by Year of Chechen Suicide Attacks
Table One gives a summary of the total number (n=28) of Chechen suicide acts to date
that we have
counted relying on news reports and intelligence sources. In these suicide terror acts 939 people were
killed and 2913 injured in these, and 2043 hostages were involved in two of the attacks that involved
mass hostage taking (Nord-Ost and Beslan). We estimate the total number of Chechen suicide
terrorists involved in these twenty-eight attacks to be approximately 112 with a distribution of 48
women and 64 men.
Table One:
Date of
Place of terrorist act
Men terrorists
Killed victims
1 June
Chechnya, Alkhan-Yurt
Military base (Khava
Baraeva, Luiza
2 2 0 2 5 0 Dead
2 June,
Chechnya, Military
1 0 1 ? ? 0 Dead
3 July
Chechnya, Military base
1 0 1 33 81 0 Dead
4 Dec.
Chechnya, MVD building
(Mareta Duduyeva)
1 1 0 ? ? 0 Wounded,
later dead
5 Nov.
Chechnya, Urus-Martan,
Military office (Elza
1 1 0 1 3 0 Dead
6 Feb. 5,
Chechnya, Grozny,
Zavodskoy ROVD
(Zarema Inarkaeva)
1 1 0 23 17 0 Wounded
7 Oct.23-
Moscow theatre 40 19 21 129 644 <800 Dead
8 Dec.
Chechnya, Grozny,
Governmental complex
(Tumrievs family)
3 1 2 83 <200 0 Dead
9 May
Chechnya, Znamenskaya,
Governmental complex
3 1 2 59 111 0 Dead
10 May
Chechnya, Iliskhan-Yurt,
Religion festival (Shahidat
Shahbulatova, Zulay
2 2 0 18 145 0 Dead
11 June 5,
North Osetia, Mozdok
Military bas (Lida
1 1 0 17 16 0 Dead
12 June Chechnya, Grozny, 2 1 1 6 38 0 Dead
Governmental complex
(Zakir Abdulazimov)
13 July 5,
Moscow, Rock festival
(Zulikhan Elihadjieva,
Mariam Sharapova)
2 2 0 14 60 0 Dead
14 July
Moscow, Twerskaya str.
(Zarema Mujikhoeva)
1 1 0 1 0 0 Lived
15 July
Chechnya, Grozny,
Military building (Mariam
1 1 0 ? ? 0 Dead
16 Aug. 1,
North Osetia, Military
1 0 1 35 300 0 Dead
17 Dec. 5,
Southern Russian near
Yessentuki, train (Khadijat
4 3 1 41 <150 0 Dead
18 Sept.
Ingushetia, FSB office 2 1 1 2 31 0 Dead
19 Dec. 9,
Moscow, National Hotel
near Duma
1 1 0 6 14 0 Dead
20 Feb. 6,
Moscow subway station
1 0 1 41 <130 0 Dead
21 April 6,
Ingushetia, president’s car 1 0 1 2 25 0 Dead
22 Aug.
Airplane TU-134
(Sazita Jebirhanova)
1 1 0 43 0 0 Dead
23 Aug.
Airplane TU-154
Moscow-Sochi (Aminat
1 1 0 42 0 0 Dead
24 Aug.
Moscow, subway station
1 1 0 10 33 0 Dead
25 Sept.1-
3, 2004
North Osetia, Beslan
school (Roza Nogaeva,
Mariam Tuburova)
32 2 30 330 470 1120 Dead
26 May,
Chechnya, Grozny 1 1 0 0 0 0 Dead
27 May,
Chechnya, Assinovskaya 2 2 0 0 0 0 Dead
Chechnya, Assinovskaya 2 2 0 0 0 0 Dead
28 July,
Chechnya, Grozny 1 0 1 0 0 0 Dead
112 48 64 939 2913 2043
100% 43% 57%
Three suicide attacks followed the first with four total in 2000, one in 2001, three in 2002, suddenly
jumping to eleven in 2003 and diminishing again to six in 2004, and down to three in 2005 (at the time
of this writing in November 2005), for a total of twenty eight suicide attacks to date. Table Two
shows a summary of the frequency of attacks by year. The majority of suicide attacks were carried out
in 2003.
Table 2.
Year Frequency Percent
2000 4 14%
2001 1 4%
2002 3 11%
2003 11 39%
2004 6 21%
2005 3 11%
Total 28 100%
Targets of Chechen Suicide Attacks
The Chechen suicide attacks can be divided into three categories, sorted by intended target type. The
first category is suicide attacks aimed at military installations. The majority of these attacks were
carried out in Chechnya or in nearby regions. The second is suicide attacks intended for pro-Moscow
government installations in and around Chechnya. Three quarters of these type of suicide attacks were
carried out inside Chechnya. The majority of victims of this second category of suicide terrorist attacks
were civilian Chechen Muslims rather than Russian military. Recall however that the Wahhabit
ideology allows and even commands to kill unrighteous civilians and even righteous civilians in order
to achieve “ holy” goals. Hence these type of terror acts are authorized whether or not they kill
Muslims, Chechens, civilians or militarized Russians.
Numerous Chechen believers have been killed in Wahhabi suicide attacks. For instance three suicide
bombers exploded themselves and killed eighty-three civilians in the truck bombing of the pro-Russian
governmental complex in Grozny in December of 2002. In a similar case fifty-nine civilian Chechens
were killed by three suicide bombers in a pro-Russian government complex explosion in northern
Chechnya on May of 2003.
The third category of suicide attacks is directed at purely civilian targets. The majority of them were
carried out in Moscow and around Chechnya. The most terrible of these attacks are the Moscow
Dubrovka Theatre/Nord Ost takeover on October of 2002 in which over eight-hundred hostages were
taken and one hundred-twenty-nine died in the storm
and the Beslan school takeover on September
of 2004 in which over one thousand teachers, parents and children were held for three days with a still
contested number likely reaching over three hundred killed in the ensuing storm of the school. Table
Three shows a summary of the type of Chechen suicide attacks by place.
Table 3.
Target type Chechnya Southern Russian
Moscow Total
1 Military 7 3 0 10
2 Governmental 3 1 0 4
3 Civilian 4 2 8 14
Total 14 6 8 28
Trends in Targeting
In it’s first two years (2000-2001) Chechen suicide terrorism targeted only military bases and only
inside Chechnya. As the military responded by hardening its defenses inside Chechnya the terrorists
moved their suicide operations increasingly to Russia during and following 2002 including repeatedly
striking Moscow itself. The first of these attacks in Moscow in 2002 involved the dramatic mass
hostage-taking siege of the Dubrovka theater (Nord Ost) in which forty armed terrorists (nineteen of
them women with bombs strapped to their bodies) held approximately eight hundred theatergoers for
nearly three days. One hundred twenty-nine hostages were killed in this event, the majority dying
from gas introduced into the theater by Russian Special Forces who ended the siege by gassing and
storming the theater. Following this event the Chechen terrorists continued to target civilians inside
Russia likely realizing the media amplification benefits of doing so: targeting in 2003 a rock concert
just outside Moscow and two downtown Moscow targets (one near the Duma) followed in 2004 by
bombings on two Moscow metros, the Beslan school takeover and two flights originating from
. For the Chechen terrorists groups, striking outside of Chechnya and in spectacular ways
brought them worldwide media attention that strikes inside Chechnya did not.
The worst years for suicide attacks were 2003 and 2004 with sixty-three percent of attacks occurring
during these years. Some argue that this was in response to and following the time period during
which the most brutal Russian counter-terrorism operations in Chechnya took place and those in turn
motivated terrorist groups to increase their frequency of suicide attacks as well as carry them out inside
Russia and targeting Moscow.
While this may be true, it’s a two-sided equation and cyclical as
Moscow certainly had a reason for increasingly targeting terrorists after the Dubrovka/Nord Ost
takeover in 2002 and in years following as they continued to receive attacks inside Moscow.
Other authors argue that the Chechen terrorists increasingly embraced suicide terrorism when the
Russian response to the Nord Ost takeover (of storming the building and shooting all the terrorists
dead) made it clear that the Russians were no longer willing to negotiate safe passage for the terrorists
in mass hostage taking operations as they had been in the past as in Budyonnovsk in 1995 and partially
up to Pervomayskoe in 1996 – causing the terrorists to realize that to continue on this path they must
embrace “martyrdom” operations.
While this is likely part of the truth it’s unlikely the whole story
as it doesn’t explain why the Nord Ost operation was planned as a combined mass hostage taking
suicide operation before knowing of the hopelessness of escape. The Nord Ost terrorists arrived in
suicide belts and proclaimed themselves as suicide terrorists to their hostages, the Russians and to the
whole world and stated that they were going to kill their hostages, blow up the theatre and themselves
unless the Russians withdrew from Chechen territory – a demand they knew ahead of time was
unlikely to end well for them. This decision to appear in suicide belts and proclaim themselves as
“shakids” was made well beforehand and even documented in a video tape that was given to Al Jazeera
to air during the siege in which one of the female bombers states, “Even if we are killed thousands of
our brothers and sisters will come after us ready to sacrifice themselves.” This was all planned ahead of
time without knowing what the Russian Special Forces response would be in the Nord Ost case.
Something had dramatically changed before October 2002 in terms of ideology and choice of terror
Our interviews with the family members and close associates of the Dubrovka/Nord Ost terrorists made
clear that the anticipation of death in the theater by the terror sponsoring groups and the terrorists
themselves was made well ahead of going to the theater. We conclude this based on the fact that some
of these terrorists left notes behind admitting to going on a “martyrdom” mission while others subtly
indicated before leaving that they would never be returning. The hostages from Dubrovka also were
told by their hostage takers that the greatest thing for them was to die as a martyr, that they came to die
and so on.
Likewise interviews with hostages of the Beslan takeover who spoke intensively with the
hostage takers also make clear that the suicide terrorists there came to die but still could not
comprehend that the Russians would consider storming a school filled with young children hostages
Hence it is clear to us that the decision by Chechen terror groups to use suicide terrorism combined
with mass hostage taking operations had more to do with strategy than simply giving into despair over
the belief that the Russians would not allow them to escape if they wished to live in exchange for
giving their hostages life.
Researchers of suicide terrorism know that suicide terrorism is nearly always used strategically by
organizations and generally resorted to when the enemy is much stronger and better equipped
militarily. Likewise it is often used in later stages of the conflict
and finds a receptive base of
support in areas where occupation occurs, particularly if the foreign occupier is of another religion than
those occupied and is perceived as oppressive and unjust.
All of these conditions exist within the
Chechen conflict and they coincide with the importation into Chechnya of a militant ideology that
supports martyrdom operations. Thus on the organizational level we conclude that the move to
adopting suicide terrorism and the increased reliance on it is firstly a sign that by the year 2000 the
militant Wahhabit terrorist ideology had found fertile ground in Chechnya and that once firmly
entrenched in limited pockets of society that the terror groups responded dynamically to the conditions
of two lost wars and the ongoing brutal counterterrorism operations using the militant Wahhabit
ideology that they had successfully transmitted into Chechnya from the middle east. Indeed Basayev as
early as 1995 had led a “suicide” operation that had ended well for him. The nationalist rebels who
ended up in a state of guerilla warfare found that over time they were fighting side by side with
religiously linked terrorists who endorsed other tactics than traditional warfare - although the
nationalist political goals remained the same (albeit changed to endorsement by the Wahhabi groups of
an Islamic state, versus a secular one).
We would also add another argument and attribute the increase in suicide bombings in 2003 to the
recognition of the effects of press coverage that were especially recognized in regard to the Dubrovka
Theater takeover in 2002. There the terrorists made spectacular use of theater themselves, dressing the
women in black hadjibs reminiscent of mourning clothes with clearly visible bomb belts tied at their
waists. The title of Black Widows and stories of them being wives and mothers of killed Chechens
circulated around the globe with the world population aghast at this vision, asking themselves how bad
conditions in Chechnya could be to drive women to put on suicide belts and go to Moscow to bomb
themselves? Following the Dubrovka takeover in 2002 the Chechen terrorists understood the utility of
bringing their terror acts to the heart of Russia and the press coverage that occurs when purely civilian
targets are utilized. The Beslan school takeover was similarly planned with an eye for media coverage,
although in the case of Beslan, taking young children hostage and shooting them as they attempted to
escape proved to work against garnering any worldwide support for the terrorists’ cause. It did
however manage to call attention back to the plight of the Chechen people.
It’s curious to make notice as well of the practice of the Chechen terrorists in filming themselves and
their actions during suicide terrorist mass hostage taking operations. During the Dubrovka/Nord Ost
theater takeover the terrorists placed huge banners proclaiming slogans such as “death to the infidel” in
Arabic which had little likelihood of helping garner support to their cause in the western media, but the
terrorists carefully filmed themselves and their actions in both this case and in the Beslan school
takeover. While it’s impossible to know for certain, these films may be intended to be smuggled out of
the event to be sent back to those who fund the operations, to the home organization, to be used in
Internet outreach in behalf of the Chechen jihad, to be aired on sympathetic television outlets, to be
used in training of future “martyrs” to encourage them, or have other purposes, but it does appear that
when the spectacular martyrdom operations take place the terrorists themselves feel it is important to
record them on film.
It must also be noted that changes in targeting also occur in response to the ability to succeed in hitting
targets. In response to the initial onslaught of suicide terrorism to military targets and later government
targets inside of Chechnya the military hardened defenses and following this the groups moved to
increase their attacks on Moscow and other outside of Chechnya targets. In response, the Russian
government has made access by Chechens to Moscow increasingly controlled and Chechens now find
it difficult to travel freely and to receive external passports. This perhaps will lead to a reversion to
acts inside Chechnya and close by, outside its surrounding borders which is accomplished by traveling
freely to targets by bribing corrupt soldiers at checkpoints as was done in the Beslan attack and also in
the recent 2005 Nalchik attack.
In 2005 all of the suicide bombing attacks (n=3) took place inside Chechnya. In one of these attacks,
three female suicide terrorists exploded themselves in May (one in Grozny and two girlfriends in
Assinovskaya). They had prepared to carry out their mission on May 9
but were discovered
beforehand and they exploded themselves to avoid arrest. The date chosen for their act was a highly
symbolic day - Victory Day – in which Russia and former Soviet states make a prominent display of
their military might a day in which a suicide bombing would certainly diminish this display of military
readiness. Indeed on this same date in 2004 the pro-Russian backed Chechen President Kadyrov was
killed with his entourage when the stand where he was viewing the display of Russian military might
exploded under his feet – a huge statement by the terrorists about their ability to strike the Russian
forces. This also underscores the expressive nature of both suicide and non suicide terrorism in this
conflict. The third attack and most recent suicide bombing (as of this writing) was on July seventh in
Grozny at the time of the terrorist acts in London. It is unknown and most unlikely that there is any
connection to the acts. A young man exploded himself in car bomb near a military checkpoint. Table
Four show a breakdown of attacks by year, frequency, type and location of target.
Table 4.
Year Military
TotalChechnya Southern
Moscow Total
2000 4 0 0 4 4 0 0 4
2001 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1
2002 1 1 1 3 2 0 1 3
2003 4 2 5 11 4 4 3 11
2004 0 1 5 6 0 2 4 6
2005 1 0 2 3 3 0 0 3
Total 11
28 14
Suicide Terrorism or Guerilla Warfare?
Depending on one’s definition of terrorism, and there are hundreds of definitions
, it is possible to
argue that the suicide attacks against military targets were not terrorism but guerilla warfare, and that
the killed civilians were simply “collateral damage.” This argument becomes more difficult when
considering the attacks against pro-Russian government complexes where the majority of victims
where Chechen civilians and impossible once one moves to the heinous attacks involving mass hostage
taking particularly the Beslan school takeover where children attempting to flee the scene were shot in
the back terrorists. It is unclear how much the exiled president Maskhadov put in his lot with Basayev
after the end of the second war when both of them had to live as fugitives from the Russians.
Photographs released over the web of them sitting together at a table in Arabic dress, bearded and
eating together paint a picture of “brotherly” comradeship and make it appear that Maskhadov adheres
to the Wahhabi traditions. However much forced together by a common enemy, the parting of ways
perhaps occurs around the issue of terrorism. Maskhadov always refused to claim responsibility for
any operations targeting civilians, while Basayev proudly claims them, stating the occupation of
Chechnya and the war atrocities committed by Russian forces as his justification. Indeed following the
Dubrovka Theater Nord Ost hostage taking event in which one hundred and twenty nine Russians were
killed (most of them by the gas introduced into the theater by Russian special forces) Basayev proudly
claimed the event and also made suicide terrorism threats for the future saying, “People without any
demands, who will not be taking anyone hostage, will come next time. They will come, and their main
goal will be to destroy the enemy and deal the most severe blown onto him.” At the same time he
publicly resigned from the rebel leadership asking Maskhadov to forgive him for not informing him of
the operation ahead of time and to relieve him of all his posts except for command of the "Riyadus-
Salikhin reconnaissance and sabotage battalion of shahids (martyrs). Clearly the one had taken the
terrorist path – although still with nationalist goals in mind, while it is unclear if the other might still be
termed only a nationalist rebel.
Progression from Nationalist War to Some Groups Leading a Religious Jihad
On the side of the organizations we can see the progression on the one side of a failed insurgency to
continued guerilla warfare and on another side the importing of the militant Wahhabist ideology into
Chechnya as it was introduced at the end of the first war, accelerating its foothold between the two
wars and consolidating it’s grip in some pockets of society during the second war and the ensuing
military occupation which follows to this day. The second war which was in many ways incited by the
actions of the Wahhabist groups (i.e. Basayev and Khattab’s incursion into Dagestan) brought so many
deaths, destruction and human rights violations with it that it served as final proof to a small minority
of Chechens that a new response and new way of thinking and acting was needed. The Wahhabists
were already poised to respond with an ideology, training and call to arms for all those who were ready
to agree to take part in a new form of warfare: a jihad involving terrorism against Russia. Fatwas were
declared that removed the barriers to self sacrifice in behalf of the group and suicide terrorism or
“martyrdom” operations became the new weapon of choice.
Halfway into the new jihad, the Nord Ost takeover in 2002 riveted worldwide attention to the Chechen
cause prompting many to wonder what could possibly motivate so many young women to appear
dressed in black ready to die with bombs strapped to their bodies. Our research inside Chechnya
interviewing the family members and close associates of many of these suicide bombers who took part
in that event as well as others, conducting what was essentially psychological autopsies
of the suicide
bombers begins to answer that question.
Our Research Study
Methods & Results
Our research relied upon semi-structured interviews and focused on open-ended questions regarding
life events previous to becoming terrorists, personality and behavioral changes leading up to the
terrorist act, and possible motivations for it. It was difficult to make contact with the family members
of suicide terrorists because nearly all had already been visited and interrogated by Russian special
services and continued to fear retaliation. However they agreed after being told that the interviews
would be anonymous and confidential and that the authors are trying to understand the psychological
underpinnings of suicidal terrorism.
The sample consists of sixty-one interviews from various sources inside and outside Chechnya. The
sample was made up of thirty-two close family members or close associates who reported on thirty-
four suicide terrorists and two would be suicide bombers; four seriously radicalized individuals who
were interviewed (two of these were from the group of thirty-two family members/close associates)
and additional insights from eleven hostages interviews from the Dubrovka/Nord Ost hostage-taking
siege and sixteen interviews from hostages held in the Beslan school takeover. It thus relies on a total
of sixty one interviews. The postmortem terrorist interviews were collected in Chechnya over a two-
year time period from March 2003 to March 2005. The Nord Ost hostage interviews were collected
from the first week of December 2002, five weeks after the terrorist takeover and into the first week of
March 2003, four months after the takeover. The Beslan hostage interviews were collected in August
of 2005 close to the one-year anniversary date of the attack, a time when emotions and traumatic
memories were dramatically heightened. All of the descriptive statistics that we report from our
sample are based upon the thirty-fours suicide terrorists which we were able to closely study (post-
mortem) through the family member/close associate interviews we collected in Chechnya. We
augment our descriptions of these specific terrorists by their family members and close associates with
hostages’ observations of the terrorists with whom they spent three days, many of them having ample
opportunity to observe their behaviors, interactions and to seriously engage in discussions with them.
Demographic characteristics of the Suicide Terrorists in our Sample
Age: The mean age of the Chechen suicide terrorists (at the time of their act) was 24, and the age
range was 15-45 (standard deviation of 6.57). There was no significant age difference by gender.
Gender: In our study females made up more than three quarters of the sample and males less than one
quarter (see Table Five). Of all one-hundred and twelve suicide bombers to date, forty-three percent
(n=48 ) have been female and fifty-seven percent (n=64) have been male, hence our study over
represents female bombers.
Table 5.
Gender Frequency Percent
Female 26 76.5%
Male 8 23.5%
Total 34 100%
Marital and familial status: Almost half of all suicides in our study were unmarried, but it’s difficult
to conclude that single persons are more willing to volunteer for suicide missions since we know that
the Chechen militant Wahhabi ideology encourages the opposite. Half of the married, divorced and
widowed individuals in the sample had children, but this was not an obstacle for their carrying out
their suicide mission. Indeed unlike practices among Islamic related Palestinian and Lebanese groups
that make use of martyrdom operations (i.e. HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah) which
favored sending individuals who are unmarried or at least not parents as bombers – Chechen militant
Wahhabi ideology favors martyrdom operations for those who are married and who have children
seeing them as having fulfilled their life duties of reproducing prior to sacrificing their lives.
Table 6.
Marital status Females Percent Males Percent Total Percent
1 Single 13 50.0 5 62.5 18 52.9
2 Married 3 11.5 2 25.0 5 14.7
3 Divorced 4 15.4 0 0 4 11.8
4 Widow 5 19.2 1 12.5 6 17.6
5 Second marriage 1 3.9 0 0 1 2.9
Total 26 100 8 100 34 100,0
Despite the widespread belief that suicide terrorists are undereducated youth who are easily duped into
giving their lives in an act of martyrdom our study did not bear out this myth. The education level of
the suicide terrorists in our sample was similar to the educational level of the general Chechen society
with many being college and university educated. This is a similar finding to many other studies of
suicide terrorists where it is shown that they are as or more educated that their peers.
While Chechen
society traditionally favors and pushes their young to achieve the highest education possible the
majority of youth in Chechnya do not currently have sufficient educational opportunities because the
education system has been destroyed during wartime and also during the last ten years many schools
worked badly or did not work in general. Yet when one considers the widespread frustration and lack
of educational opportunities in Chechnya currently it is striking that only a small group of young
people became terrorists and that those that do, at least according to our sample, have been well
Table 7.
Education level Frequency Percent
1 High school 23 67.6
2 College 2 5.9
3 University 6 17.6
4 Studying on University or college 3 8.8
Total 34 100.0
One woman (age 31) had two university diplomas: economical and juridical. Another woman had
finished a theatre faculty of university.
Socio-economical status:
The majority of Chechen suicide terrorists that we studied were unemployed as are most Chechens
living in the current post war occupation situation. Only four women in our sample had a legitimate
means of making an income - they traded in the market.
Table 8.
Employment Frequency Percent
1 Unemployed 30 88.2
2 Own business 4 11.8
Total 34 100
Due to the devastation of war, it was very difficult to find and utilize normal markers to categorize the
economic status of the suicide bombers’ families. The interviewer made a subjective analysis based
upon the respondent’s reports and her own analysis of their living situation, which was often directly
observed during the interview. The economic level of the majority of the suicide terrorists’ families
was middle. Only two suicide terrorists were from high class and two were from poor class.
Table 9.
Socio-economical status Frequency Percent
1 Poor 2 5.9
2 Middle 20 58.8
3 Good 10 29.4
4 High 2 5.9
Total 34 100.0
Participation in war
Six of eight men that we studied were former fighters and five of them (14%) were being hunted as
fugitives by the Russian forces. Seven of the twenty-six women helped the fighters working as medical
nurses and couriers. Two sisters learned to shoot and place land mines. Another woman (age 33)
learned to shoot and drive a car (privately owned cars are still a very new phenomena in the entire
former Soviet Union and most families do not own cars and women still rarely learn to drive in
Chechnya). This woman also worked with the fighters assisting them as a medical nurse.
Table 10.
Participation in war Frequency Percent
1 Fighters 6 17.6
2 Helpers of fighters 7 20.6
3 No participation in war 21 61.8
Total 34 100.0
Psychological trauma
Before the wars of independence (1994-96 and 1999-2000) there was no suicide terrorism in Chechnya.
The last ten years in Chechnya there have been continuous actions of war. According to the research of
the World Health Organization in 2002, sixty-nine and a half percent of the Chechen population
survived such psycho-traumatic events as: threat to life; the long stay under bombardments; killing and
wounding of family members; disappeared family members and torture. According to the WHO study
thirty-one percent of the Chechen population is estimated to have post-traumatic stress disorder
A 2004 Medecins Sans Frontieres report of refugees in the tent camps of Ingushetia found
similar results: one in five displaced Chechens have personally witnessed violence and one in three
have personally experienced violence – the types which included maltreatment, detention as a hostage,
arrest or kidnap, and forced labor.
All of these experiences create deep vulnerabilities in individuals
to be open to groups that can equip them for revenge and whose ideology justifies violence as an
answer to their experiences.
One of the authors, Akhmedova made a clinical study of 653 persons with PTSD showing that in
thirty-nine percent of the cases PTSD was accompanied by the development of fanaticism
. These
persons are characterized by ideas of revenge, social estrangement, suspiciousness, and rigidity. Their
life values changed dramatically as a result. Financial welfare, family and even their own health cease
to be important for them. Only revenge for their sufferings and humiliations, or self-sacrifice to achieve
revenge becomes important for them.
These are the persons we believe become involved in terrorist organizations and our data support this
conclusion. In this study all of the subjects had suffered traumatic events: forty-seven percent of the
sample (n=16) had experienced multiple traumas including the death and/or torture of more than one
close family member (these included parents, brothers, husbands); eight percent (n=3) had suffered the
disappearance of a family member after arrest (which usually means torture and death); and one had
suffered with a returned family member having been severely tortured while in detention.
Table 11.
Traumatic events Frequency Percent
1 More than 1 family member killed 16 47.1
2 Father or mother killed 5 14.7
3 Brother killed 8 23.5
4 Husband killed 1 2.9
5 Family member disappeared after
3 8.8
6 Family member tortured 1 2.9
Total 34 100.0
The experiences of deep personal traumatization and bereavement create in some a vulnerability to
seek out the ideological message of those promoting jihadist methods – and especially in youth this
helps the sufferer to find a framework for dealing with their shattered world assumptions, to address
their emotional suffering, survivor guilt and sense of a foreshortened future.
Half of the suicide terrorists in our sample carried out their bombings six to eight years after the
traumatic events which makes it clear that many were not acting in an immediate reaction of revenge.
Instead it appears that over time their traumatic stress did not heal, their traumatic exposure through
two wars only increased, and during this time they somehow became exposed to the militant Wahhabi
ideology and terror groups that gave them not only the ideology but also the means to apply a short-
lived psychological first aid to their posttraumatic stress by equipping them for revenge. In only one
case was a bombing accomplished in a nearly immediate response to a trauma (only three months after
the trauma). This case was Elza Gazueva whose husband and brother were tortured and killed by the
Russian forces. Gazueva went directly to the military headquarters and managed to get close enough to
the commandant who was responsible for taking her husband and brother from her home and who had
ordered their torture and death to ask, “Do you remember me?” before exploding herself and killing
Table 12.
Time between trauma and terror act Frequency Percent
1 Less 1 year 1 2.9
2 1 year 3 8.8
3 2-3 years 7 20.6
4 4-5 years 6 17.6
5 6-8 years 17 50.0
Total 34 100.0
According to the reports of family members and close associates the following changes were observed
in the suicide bombers following their traumatic experiences: ninety-four percent (32/34) showed
social alienation and isolation; sixty two percent (21/34) had signs of depression; twenty-nine percent
(10/34) were suspicious; twenty-six and a half percent (9/34) showed new indications of fanaticism and
aggression; twenty percent (7/34) increased in conflicts within the family; and eight percent (3/34) felt
strong guilt for not having done more to save a killed family member. All of these signs of
posttraumatic stress created within the subjects a deep vulnerability to Wahhabi ideologies promoting
revenge and self sacrifice. Likewise in addition to their deeply traumatic psychological state, the
Wahhabits could play upon the fact that the duty to revenge in Chechen society continues to exist over
even long periods of time. Likewise the Wahhabits through their ideology of allowing for targeting of
innocent civilians for the purposes of jihad and naming other ethnic groups infidels and thus
dehumanizing them, further encouraged the pathological response to trauma that Akhmedova had
already documented in trauma survivors – of generalizing their response and wish for revenge beyond
the original wrong-doer.
Table 13.
Post-traumatic changes Frequency Percent
1 Social alienation & isolation 32 94.1
2 Depression 21 61.8
3 Suspiciousness 10 29.4
4 Fanaticism 9 26.5
5 Aggression 9 26.5
6 Conflicts 7 20.6
7 Guilt 3 8.8
Revenge for personal suffering
In Chechen traditions there is an ideology of rights that are guarded by revenge and of justice as it is
dispensed within familial groups. Whenever a family member is harmed or killed this system assigns
responsibility to family members to seek out the evil-doer and make him pay accordingly. The
following are an explanation of the traditional Chechen rules of revenge:
1. Murder should be punished with murder;
2. Only males may revenge, females may only take actions to revenge if there are no males in her
family and among her relatives to do so;
3. For the murder of a female two males should be killed: the murderer and a member of the
murderer’s family;
4. Revenge should be directed only to the murderer, not to others, even to his family members or
close associates;
5. The revenge is not limited in time, it can be realized many years after a murder;
6. The revenge can be averted if respected elders intervene with the victim’s family asking them to
forgive the murderer and reach agreement to stop the revenge;
7. Revenge never calls for the avenger to kill himself in order to murder the other.
This ideology of revenge was present in Chechnya before Islam took root there in the sixteenth century.
In the Soviet time period it was not as strictly codified but was and is now still carried out when family
members chose not to use the normal governmental court systems. It does not in normal practice
spread beyond seeking out the originator of the harm or his close family to repay in a regulated (by
traditions) manner his evil deed.
Recently however, with widespread war, traumatization and bereavement, revenge is becoming
generalized in the minds of many. This is partly due to the militant Wahhabi ideology which
encourages revenging upon the entire group and acting against civilian targets, but there are some other
factors that contribute as well. It is for instance difficult, if not impossible for a Chechen citizen to find
the murderer of his or her family members among professional military, police and paid soldiers in the
war situation. These actors generally operate anonymously. In many cases victims do not know who
has tortured or been the executioner of their family members. Likewise Russian forces in Chechnya
are well known to be heavily involved in corruption (selling weapons, taking prisoners for bribes,
accepting bribes at checkpoints, stealing from citizens during raids, etc.) and for dispensing “justice” as
they see fit. All of these things contribute to a view that unfortunately results in all members of the
forces being implicated as roaming freely without regard to human rights or legal concerns. Terrorist
organizations capitalize upon this fact transforming the personal evil-doer to a larger enemy group and
connecting the longstanding ideology and cultural duty to revenge with the newly introduced ideology
of militant jihad against the corrupt and godless west, Russia in particular. Terrorists changed the
postulate of “my revenge is to my enemy for killing my family member” to that of “our revenge is to
our enemies for killing our community members – the we being the Muslim brothers”.
Indeed thirty-eight percent (13/34) of the suicide terrorists in our sample stated spontaneously to our
respondents before taking part in their terror act that they would seek revenge for the violent death of
their family member at the hands of the Russian powers. Elza Gazueva carried out her personal
revenge. She exploded herself with District Commandant Geidar Gadzhiev who arrested and tortured
her husband and brother. In Chechnya Gadzhiev was well-known for having personally headed up and
participated in the torture of many civilians.
Gadzhiev had personally summoned Elza Gazueva to
witness her husband’s torture and execution.
His death and her suicide terror act is one that was not
widely deplored by the wider community as most suicide terrorism acts are in Chechnya, because of
it’s resonance within the population of meting out direct vengeance and justice to a known murderer.
In another case, Lida Khildekhoroeva carried out the suicide bombing of a military bus in Mozdok
(North Osetia). According to her cousin, Lida asked a Wahhabit Emir to let her to make this bombing
after another woman (Zarema Mujukhoeva) backed out of it. Two of Lida’s brothers had been killed in
war. She didn’t search as the Chechen ideology of revenge dictates for those individuals who had killed
her brothers but instead revenged to a “common enemy”, although still a military target. In both of
these cases the suicide bombings did not take place according to the tradition of revenge. In Elza’s case
the family member who should have revenged failed to do so, and the one who was most traumatized
did it.
Previous religiosity
The majority of all Chechens are Muslims, but they have different levels of religiosity. There are
attributive believers who carry out some external attributes, but as a whole they do not know and do
not fulfill religious instructions. Also there are believers who have deep religious beliefs and adhere to
the traditional basis of Sufi Islam as it is practiced in Chechnya. In our sample more of the first type of
more secular representatives of the Muslim faith became involved to the Wahhabit organization then
the second whose faith had already developed in traditional Sufi religious families. This makes sense
as the first group had nothing to which to assign meaning and with which to rebuild their shattered
world assumptions
. Whereas the second group was likely better able to draw upon already deeply
held religious faith in eternal values and an eternal God, as well as Sufi beliefs that likely protected
them from generalizing revenge, encouraged them in calming posttraumatic arousal states and helped
them to rebuild a sense of self within a chaotic, violent and nonpredictable world.
Likewise their
already existing understanding of the Koran according to Sufi principles would prevent them from
being as vulnerable to accepting the militant Wahhabi teachings than their counterparts who identify
themselves as Islamic, know they have a non-Islamic (i.e. potentially infidel) enemy, and who are open
as secularlized Muslims to any interpretation of Islam which helps them to deal with their
posttraumatic states of mind.
Table 14.
Religiosity Frequency Percent
1 Secular 28 82.4
2 Traditional religion 6 17.6
Total 34 100.0
Relationship with Wahhabits
All of the respondents in the sample reported that the suicide terrorists (n=34) increased in religiosity
following their traumatic experiences and they become adherents to fanatical Wahhabit beliefs, which
in our thinking made clear that the experience of deep personal traumatization paved the way for
accepting a militant jihadist ideology that ultimately ended in them sacrificing themselves as bombers.
Twenty percent (7/34) of the sample had been involved with Wahhabits at least peripherally prior to
their transformations in response to traumas but they also greatly deepened their involvement with
militant ideas of the Wahhabits in response to their traumas. Of this twenty percent, three of these
terrorists were already married to spouses steeped in Wahhabit beliefs before their traumas, and in
response they changed dramatically in their appearance and embracing the militant Wahhabit ideology.
The other three were sisters of Wahhabits. Their brothers were killed in two cases and one disappeared.
According to their family members the sisters were deeply personally traumatized by the death of their
brothers and changed in their emotions and behavior. Even though not previously endorsing their
brother’s Wahhabit beliefs and practices their traumatic response to the deaths of their brothers swung
them over to embracing the Wahhabit lifestyle and ideology. The last one was married to a Wahhabit
instructor who was from an Arabian country. Her brother was also a Wahhabit Emir. Both of them
were killed in war and she carried out a suicide bombing one year after her brother’s death.
The other eighty percent of the sample (n=27) sought out the Wahhabit groups and their beliefs and
practices in reaction to deep personal traumatization, seeking as they were for answers and relief to
their posttraumatic states. They were fully aware in seeking out these groups that the Wahhabits
embrace militant jihad and endorse suicide terrorism.
Table 15.
Relationship Frequency Percent
1 Before trauma 7 20.6
2 After trauma 27 79.4
Total 34 100.0
Jihadist ideology and trauma
The Arabic word “jihad” means “struggle”. The Koran explains that the greater jihad is the striving of
a servant against his low desires, meaning that jihad is an internal struggle to make oneself a better
person (7). But Wahhabits insist that militant-jihad is the true jihad.
According to our respondents all of the suicide terrorists told them that making jihad was their main
value. This was also said by suicide terrorists who spoke in depth to hostages in both the Dubrovka
Theater/Nord Ost takeover and in the Beslan school takeover.
In our study, according to our
respondents reports, it appears that in sixty-two percent of the cases the suicide terrorists had fallen into
a serious depression following their traumatic experiences. It is well know that the wish to die - for
suicide - is a major symptom of depression. Likewise it is a common desire often expressed by the
traumatically bereaved in the time period after the death of a loved one – the wish to reunite by death
with the loved one in the hereafter. But suicide is forbidden in Islam, similarly to the prohibition
against suicide given by other religions. Therefore martyrdom can become a very attractive idea for
traumatized people. Jihadist ideology proposes the idea of martyrdom and self-sacrifice in exchange for
forgiveness of sins, salvation and instant entry to Paradise. Survival guilt and a sense of a foreshortened
future that are symptoms of psychological trauma can be coped with by self-sacrifice. Martyrdom is an
honorable choice for a troubled, bereaved and guilty individual. It consoles the one who is giving up
his or her life that in paradise they will be reunited with their loved ones who have gone before. And if
there is guilt about leaving family behind the ideology promises that they will gain entry into paradise
through the act of their family members martyrdom. Throughout the preparation for a suicide mission
the candidate for it is subjected to indoctrination of the positive value of suicide which is referred to
only as self-sacrifice for the community and the greatest honor of “martyrdom”. But Jihadist ideology
also destroys the moral borders denying the value of human life when lives are sacrificed for the
greater good according to the perspective of the jihadist. Jihadist ideology in the Wahhabit
interpretation permits and justifies the capture of hostages, kidnapping, and murder of innocent
civilians. The usual moral red lines are missing in a Jihad.
According to Walter Laqueur it is easier to describe various aspects of fanaticism than to account for its
As was noted previously about one third of the cases of PTSD in Akhmedova’s sample
were accompanied by the development of fanaticism
. Fanaticism is based on the overly valued idea
that governs behavior, emotions and relations of an individual. This idea narrows the vital purposes,
interests and values that usually govern an individual’s life down to one mission. In the case of
Wahhabit’s fanaticism the sole valued ideal becomes that of revenge by martyrdom and self-sacrifice.
Fanaticism is what makes a huge chasm between normal suicides and suicide terrorists: a normally
suicidal individual wants only to die and remove himself from unbearable emotional pain (i.e. “psych-
, but the suicide terrorist wants to die himself, using his death to kill those people upon whom
he wishes to revenge.
In our study respondents described twenty-six percent (9/34) of the suicide terrorists in ways that could
be described as fanatical. These suicide terrorists repeatedly talked about jihad and martyrdom as their
main value and life meaning. They did not allow others to criticize their life views and were not open
to discussion on this topic, trying instead to impose their views on friends and family. For instance one
male suicide terrorist (22 years old) participated on the Moscow theatre takeover. Our respondent, his
cousin described him, “He was an adolescent when his father and brother were killed. He became
closed and gloomy. He said that he should revenge for them, that he hates the Russians who killed
them. All his interests were reduced only to weapons, war and revenge. Then he began to be interested
in religion though before he had not even the skills to pray. He started to read the Wahhabists’ books
that he took from his uncle. He changed externally, grew his hair long and a beard. Then he has gone to
“Jamaat” to Khattab. His mother was afraid very much of these changes that occurred in him so
quickly. But she had no real influence over him. She asked me to talk with him because I had good
relations with him. When I tried to talk with him about his new beliefs, he told me that if I shall
criticize him he will quarrel with me”.
In our study we found that it is difficult to distinguish religious and nationalist motives of Chechen
suicide terrorists. All of the suicide bombers in our sample clearly had taken on the militant Wahhabi
religious ideology. Indeed this is the group that equips all bombers in Chechnya. That being said it is
likely both religious motives and nationalistic are operative, and that the militant religious ideology is
simply that which supports those who endorse it for carrying on the fight for independence in a new
manner – i.e. through a jihad which allows targeting civilians and making use of suicide terrorism. The
overlap between the two is shown in the popular song about the first Chechen suicide bomber Khava
Baraeva that supports Wahhabit ideology. Some of the words of the song are as follows:
Dear Chechnya is filled with blood and became blood-red.
Our sisters are dead in flames of fire,
But these sacrifices will not be useless.
Jihad is happening,
For rescuing our homeland,
Maybe the whole nation will become shahids.
In our study twenty-one percent (7/34) of the suicide terrorists spoke to our respondents in a way that
made it clear that they also had clear nationalist motives. It is likely that many more did, but that this
was not necessarily discussed with the respondents as ill will over the wars; numerous human rights
violations; continued fear from counter-terrorism operations and a general desire to be free of the
ongoing Russian military occupation is a rather obviously shared sentiment among most Chechens –
whether or not they simply wish to return to normal life or in the case of the minority harbor visions of
a dramatically changed independent Islamic state.
On the side of the terror organization, despite having taken on the militant Wahhabi notions of jihad -
nationalism, versus a wider global jihad is still the guiding force. This was clear in Basayev’s letter
following the Dubrovka Theater/Nord Ost hostage taking operation in Moscow when he claimed that
his main goal in carrying out the operation was to bring an end to the war and halt the genocide of the
Chechen people. Likewise he stated in his communiqué “Inshallah, sooner or later, like it or not, the
Russian people and leadership will have to end this bloody slaughter. They will have to stop this war,
agree to peace and get off our land. Sooner or later we will achieve victory, but as long as there is one
single Russian soldier on Chechen land, this war will go on, and from now on it will take place both
here, on Chechen territory, and throughout Russia - the aggressor country.”
Similarly the demands when made by the Wahhabits in their terror operations are always for national
independence and for the Russian forces to leave Chechnya. However as stated earlier Basayev has
continually harbored ambitions for independence of the entire Caucaus region and has repeatedly
attempted to bring the war beyond the Chechen borders. He first did so in his hostage taking
operations inside Russia, then later with his incursion into Dagestan. Basayev’s choice to take
hostages of school children in Beslan in North Ossetia had firstly the political goal of garnering media
attention and attempting to force Russia to leave Chechen territory. However an additional unstated
potential political goal may have included revenging for, or worse reigniting the still smoldering
animosities between the Ossetians and neighbouring Ingush who fought brutally in 1992 in an ethnic
dispute over the disputed region of Prigorodny. The majority of hostage takers in that event were
Ingush who likely still remember the atrocities during that time period in which women in one village
were raped in mass and their breasts cut off
. Likewise during the Soviet era the Ingush were united
with the Chechens in the Chechen Ingush Republic and while the Ossetians are primarily Orthodox
Christian, the Ingush share the same religion and language as the Chechens. In 2004 the Chechen
Wahhabi influence was already spilling over into the neighboring republics with many arrests and
small skirmishes occurring between the Wahhabits and the Russian forces. In October 2005 Basayev
openly announced his intentions to stir up rebellion within the region declaring the existence of the
“Caucuses Front” a group of rebels whose first public act was to attack multiple Russian governmental
sites (FSB headquarters, the police, etc.) in the town of Nalchik in Kalbardio Bulkharia in October
2005. The resulting Russian crackdown in the already disheartened Muslim republic likewise has the
potential to spark further rebellion there over issues of human rights, unemployment and Russian
corruption. Hence Basayev is actively exporting the militant Wahhabi ideology beyond Chechnya’s
borders by expanding his network to nearby Muslim neighbors making use of terror tactics and guerilla
warfare to in attempts incite national rebellion throughout the region.
Humiliation and Moral Superiority
The Wahhabits believe that their version of Islam is the correct or orthodox one and hence refer to
themselves not as Wahhabits but as the true believers. In having adopted this new to Chechnya version
of Islam and it’s jihadist views toward Russians the Wahhabits express a moral sense of superiority vis
a vis the Russians “infidels” and even toward their fellow Chechens who they label as failing to be
“true” believers. Unfortunately the Russians often play into this infidel view of them by acting in ways
that are offensive to the Chechen population. This occurs both in simple things and in more gross
human rights violations. For instance, Chechnya having a primarily Islamic population frowns upon
drinking and drunkenness. Russians by contrast are well known to incorporate heavy drinking into
their social lives and drunkenness among soldiers serving in Chechnya is commonplace. Likewise
Chechen men and women follow a certain code of respect toward one another which is not often
followed by Russian soldiers who heckle Chechen women on the street, speak to them inappropriately
and generally make them uncomfortable at checkpoints and so on. Rape of both men and women,
torture, kidnappings, hostage taking and forced labor have all been reported as serious and not
infrequent human rights abuses taking place at the hands of the Russian forces.
The widespread
corruption and abuses that occur within the Russian forces and the pro-Russian Chechen government
contributes to the wronged Chechen citizen claiming the higher moral ground and when exposed to the
militant Wahhabi way of thinking such an individual is vulnerable to be moved to respond to these
very real wrong doings by adopting their ideology and practices - including terrorism.
While the Wahhabits preach a creed that gives a sense of moral superiority over the occupiers,
everyday Chechens struggle with countless large and small humiliations including having their homes
turned to rubble and their possessions reduced to ashes. Most Chechens live in difficult circumstances,
many still without electricity and running water having been restored to whatever “new” living quarters
they have been able to find. Destroyed roads are still difficult to navigate and checkpoints arrest traffic
crossing town. To get to some destinations crossing the capital of Grozny one may have to pass as
many as eighteen checkpoints and bribes are necessary to cross them. It is impossible to refuse to pay
as refusing to pay a bribe to cross results in having one’s documents challenged, something found
wrong with one’s vehicle or other accusations resulting in fines or potential arrest. A normal person
going to work using public transport may spend three hours per day waiting ten to fifteen minutes per
checkpoint for seven or more checkpoints. Speaking about the moral exhaustion she feels about the
endless checkpoints she has to cross to get to work, one Chechen woman explains, “When they stop the
bus yet again and they come with their guns and dogs and we all have to get out and show our
documents and they search everything, it makes you feel like you are not even a human being
The zachistki or “cleansing” operations that were very frequent in the early years following the war
still continue today although less frequently. Typically they involve the Russian forces surrounding a
region where they suspect terrorists to be harboring often in the early morning before dawn and masked
men with guns and grenades move building by building, searching all apartments and homes. In the
first years these operators often demanded gold jewelry and money from the family in order not to take
their sons away. Night raids on homes are still frequent and are carried out by Russians in masks who
can refuse to even identify which service they are representing. In many cases this is because they are
not searching for a real fugitive but simply have come for money. Now instead of demanding money
outright for leaving the young man at home, the forces take their official “hostage” and wait until the
family comes having assembled their lives’ savings to ransom him out of the holding prison. Often
the young men are tortured and beaten during the interim. A Chechen university student who faced
such a night raid in Spring of 2004 asked the masked men which service was taking him from his home
and received blows for the question instead of the truthful answer he surely merited.
In addition to daily fear and daily humiliation every person in Chechnya has suffered multiple
traumatic losses. The Chechen population was decimated by the two wars with 180,000 Chechens
killed and 300,000 fleeing as refugees. One in two Chechens were either killed or ran away as the
result of the wars and Chechnya’s cities still lie in rubble.
Chechens believe that their Russian occupiers are capable of anything including mass genocide.
Rumors abound about poisoned water and so on. Indeed in Spring 2006 approximately one hundred
children were hospitalized with unexplained symptoms including trouble breathing, fainting spells and
losing consciousness. It appeared that a small group of the children had been in advertently exposed to
a real noxious substance but that the others were responding with a mass psychological contagion
response. This demonstrated how strongly inherent in Chechen society the fears are that the Russians
want to poison the population and how easily children and their parents believed this had occurred in
reality. Previous to this incident, but in response to rumors that the Russians have poisoned the water,
that the women are receiving injections to make them infertile and so on Basayev felt justified to state,
“We will, to the extent possible, bomb, blow up, poison, set ablaze, and organize natural gas explosions
and fires on everything else on Russian territory... [W]e reserve the right to use chemical and toxic
substances and the same poisons against Russia (as Basayev claims the Russians are using in
While the Russian forces daily commit assaults on human dignity the Wahhabis respond in moral
outrage and feel justified in using terrorism as a response. Even after having executed the most
heinous terror acts they still claim moral superiority to their Russian occupiers. Basayev for instance
always attempts to justify his actions in claiming responsibility for terrorist operations by pointing out
the Russian atrocities committed in Chechnya. For instance in his communiqué after the Dubrovka
Theater/Nord Ost hostage taking event he wrote, “Thank God, today we managed to take this war back
to where it came from. We brought the war back to the enemy's lair.” Acknowledging that he had
targeted innocent civilians he rhetorically asks in his own defense about the innocent Chechens victims
of the war, “who are the more than 3,000 children aged under 10, who died during the three years of
the brutal and bloody war in Chechnya? Who are the more than 4,000 children who lost their legs,
arms, eyes, who ended up paralyzed? Who are the missing 3,500 people who have been abducted from
their homes or detained in the streets by the Russian occupiers and whose fate remains a mystery? Who
are the 200,000 slain women, elderly, ill, children and men? Who are they?” He goes on to justify his
actions pointing to his enemy as worse than himself stating, “This military sabotage action manifested
not only the slavish and brutal indifference of the Russian population, but also the despicable hypocrisy
of the so-called world community. The whole world condemned this action for three days. The whole
world offered its condolences to the Russians. This war would have ceased long ago if they had shown
at least one tenth of this condemnation to the innocent victims of the bloody war in Chechnya, and
what happened in Moscow would not have happened.”
When it came to Beslan the terrorists shouted to their hostages, “Your government doesn’t care about
you, your lives are worthless to them.” And holding up money in both hands to indicate the sums they
had to pay to bribe their way past corrupt officials to get to Beslan they cried out, “For these greens
(dollars) you were sold.” The Dubrovka/Nord Ost hostage takers said the same to their hostages – that
the Russian government cared little for their fates, just as they cared little for the Chechens. In an
interview nearly a year after Beslan, Basayev told reporters that he was shocked by what had happened
but again he blamed the brutality on Putin and did not take responsibility for the deaths of the children
there. In a public announcement Basayev told Maskhadov who always publicly disapproved of terror
acts against civilians that after the war he was ready to stand before a sharia court and plead his
innocence for what had occurred during the Beslan siege. Clearly in response to the Russian aggression
in Chechnya, Basayev as the current leader of the terror groups in Chechnya has fully assimilated the
Wahhabi jihadist mentality – he is able to demonize and dehumanize his enemy, and justify killing
civilians in behalf of fighting the Chechen jihad against Russia.
Networking through family and religious ties
Like al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations Chechen terrorist organizations make use of familial
ties and relationships for recruitment. The following are cases of family members participation in
suicide attacks: two pairs of sisters were present in the Moscow theater takeover; one sister exploded
herself on a plane in August of 2004 and a short while after her sister participated in the Beslan school
takeover in September 2004; and a father, son and daughter exploded themselves in a truck bomb
delivered into a governmental complex in Grozny on December 2002.
Also in those cases where the married suicide terrorist’s husbands or wives were Wahhabits we see
that the spouse deepened the investment into the Wahhabit ideology as a result of trauma. The rule of
the Wahhabit’s is that when marrying, the wife should accept the religious beliefs of her husband. This
does not mean it will continue this way forever though, as wives in Chechen society have a huge
emotional influence over their husbands and the affairs of the family including religious adherence. If
the wife harbors opposite views she could destroy the Wahhabit orientation of her husband.
Unfortunately the social realities of war and occupation created the opposite behavior intensifying the
Wahhabit orientation of spouses married into it.
Chechen leaders Basayev and Udugov married more than one wife choosing their wives strategically
between regions and republics and clans which enabled them to later take advantage of Chechen,
Dagestani and Ingush cultural norms in which the spouses family must not refuse requests of assistance
from the spouse – hence a greater network of safe houses, couriers and so on were opened to them
through marriage.
Atypical cases of Chechen suicide terrorism
We also studied two cases of the would-be-suicide terrorists that were aberrant from the typical pattern
of Chechen suicide bombings. Zarema Mujukhoeva who is famous in the Russian press as a “Black
Widow” (i.e. a female bomber) because she is the only bomber who refused her mission (twice
actually) and was arrested. She is well known in Russia and beyond because of the many fantastic lies
she told reporters after being apprehended and jailed following abandoning her bomb filled bag on a
Moscow Street. Unfortunately many “experts” on Chechen suicide terrorism have modeled their ideas
about female bombers on Zarema who later admitted the stories she told were all designed to cover her
guilt and were all false. The greatest of these lies was that she and others were coerced into becoming
bombers and that a woman named “Black Fatima” followed the bombers to make sure they detonated
and if not she was ready to detonate their bombs by remote. If this was true, which Zarema later
admitted it was not – Black Fatima would surely have detonated Zarema’s bag when she bent down to
leave it on the street.
Zarema unlike all the other bombers we studied was not ideologically motivated by personal trauma.
Unlike all the others, she did it to gain monetary recompense although it is unclear if she actually
achieved money for her act. Also totally unlike the others in our sample she was a criminal who had
been previously involved in drugs and had reportedly stolen money and jewelry from her estranged in-
laws and was about to be arrested for it. In order to escape she offered herself as a potential “shahida”
and was admitted to a Wahhabit training camp where she eluded arrest. At first she prepared herself to
suicide bomb the military bus in Mozdok in 2003, but when she was brought there by her recruiter she
couldn’t carry through with exploding herself because of fear. (Later Lida Khildekhoroeva carried out
the military bus bombing). Zarema lacked the same conviction of the others who were religiously
convinced of the righteousness of their mission, the necessity of carrying out an act of vengeance, and
the hope in an afterlife and the promises that came with it. Zarema Mujikhoeva then prepared for
carrying out a terrorist act in Moscow. She again lost her nerve and abandoned her bomb-filled bag on
the street. She was captured trying to flee from the café on Moscow’s Tverskaya Street. Later the
detective who tried to defuse her bomb was killed by it.
According to Berman and Laitin recruitment of martyrs does not require appeals to irrationality or utter
fanaticism. Instead they argue that the real task for the success of suicide attacks is not recruitment per
se, but rather recruitment of a type of martyr who is unlikely to defect.
We find that traumatized and
fanatical suicide terrorists carry out their human bomber functions the most successfully because they
are completely ideologically committed to their goal of revenging and giving their lives to do so.
Those who are not committed in this same way due to experiences of traumatic bereavement act
differently, as did Zarema Mujukoeva.
The second atypical case in our sample (and as far as we know these are the only two atypical acts in
the entire sample of Chechen suicide acts – we count them only as “would be” bombers), Zarema
Inarkaeva, was 16 years old at the time of her terrorist act in February 2002. Her boyfriend who
worked in the pro-Russian Chechen militia in Grozny asked Zarema to pass a bag to the chief of
Zavodskoy district police (ROVD). He wanted to make revenge on him as a personal enemy. When she
asked what was in the bag and why he didn’t pass it himself, her boyfriend lied and said that it was
something necessary for his job. He drove her to the ROVD police building and told her, “Tell them
my name and they will let you in, then go to his office and say this bag is for him and leave at once.”
She went to the building and entered without problem. When she said her boyfriend’s name they
didn’t check her bag despite it being large. When she went to the corridor she put it on the floor
because it was heavy. At that moment her boyfriend, perhaps lacking the nerve to wait for her to exit
the building exploded the bag with a remote control device. Zarema was wounded but not killed.
Both cases differ completely from the other “real” Chechen suicide acts. The first Zarema differed in
motivation, the second did not even know she was carrying a bomb. Each was not acting from
personal trauma, ideas of revenge, or the desire to join the jihad as a martyr. They were indifferent to
religion and not motivated by the imported militant Wahhabi ideology supporting suicide acts in behalf
of the Chechen jihad.
Difficult Choices for Ordinary Chechens
Ordinary Chechen people are caught between two harsh choices. The pro-Russian backed government
has not managed to end corruption and to offer safety to the people. The Wahhabits on the other hand
incite a jihad out of which each terror act against Russia results in more crackdowns, more “cleansing”
operations, and more disappearances of innocent civilians at the hands of the Russians. Ordinary
Chechen find themselves caught in the middle of two forces: the Russians who by their sheer brutality
can make Chechen citizens feel demoralized and dehumanized and terrorists that cause even normal
Chechen citizens to find that they are as a group identified with terror, barred from travel and suspect
when they can. Many Chechens feel completely lost and uncertain of their future.
It is important to understand that the majority of Chechens still today have nothing to do with terrorism
and do not endorse it in any way. Wahhabi groups infiltrated into Chechnya during the war years but
still have not won widespread support either for their ideas or their tactics among the general
population. The majority of Chechens are weary from war. They simply want a return to normal life,
peace and are not too concerned whether or not that comes in the form of an independent national state
or if they continue as a state within the Russian federation. However as the cycle of violence continues
between the two sides those Chechens who suffer losses are vulnerable to be pulled into the Wahhabi
terror groups way of thinking.
The Fight Against Terrorism
Main views of suicide terrorism
There are two main views of Chechen suicide terrorism in Russia and Chechnya. The Russian
government and other officials propagate the first view in the mass media. This view attempts to
diminish the power of suicide terrorism; denying that there are persons in Chechnya who want to die as
martyrs for revenge. Instead they claim that there are organizers of terrorist acts who use feeble and
conformist individuals to perpetrate terrorist acts using drugs, violations of women, coercion, fear, etc.
to make them do it.
Sergei Yastrzhembsly, Putin’s senior advisor on Chechnya claimed for instance in the newspaper
Sobesdenik that female bombers had been coerced against their will into acting. “Chechens are turning
these young girls into zombies using psychotropic drugs…I have heard that they rape them and record
the rapes on video. After that, such Chechen girls have no chance at all of resuming normal life in
Chechnya. They have only one option: to blow themselves up with a bomb full of nails and ball
We have found no support whatsoever for this statement in our research.
One woman we know of
was pushed by her brother to become a bomber but she refused. Zarema Mujukoeva was involved in
drugs and self recruited, but she also ultimately refused to carry out her mission – hence we have no
evidence that drugs or coercion is active with committed bombers. All of the female bombers in our
sample were highly motivated but by what they had experienced at the hands of Russians, not
Chechens and the entire sample as far as we could tell self-recruited to terror groups (where of course
they were further motivated and equipped for their missions). We learned of deaths of family
members, but did not learn of any rapes among these women. But if there were any rapes in our
sample it’s much more likely that the rapes were at the hands of Russian soldiers and not the reverse, as
human rights organizations report rape as a systematic form of torture of both male and female
detainees and rapes of women in their homes (or after abduction) by Russian forces have also been
. After the Beslan takeover Russian news also claimed that the terrorists raped young girls.
The hostages that we talked to however stated that the Chechen terrorists were very careful, sexually
respectful and strict with their female hostages, forcing them to observe their customs for modesty by
telling them not to take their clothes off even when the heat was unbearable
. It’s simply propaganda
to claim that the Chechens terrorists rape their own women to force them to be terrorists and this view
refuses to acknowledge the real motivations of the female suicide terrorists and their experiences of
traumatic bereavement at the hands of Russians. It’s clear that as long as the government will adhere to
such a point of view it never will cope successfully with suicidal terrorism.
The organizers of the terrorist acts propagate a second view. This view claims that corrupt politics and
undeserving heads of states have unleashed wars killing many civilians and that social injustice moves
proud and highly moral people to perpetrate suicide acts for the sake of peace and justice.
Both of these points of view are extreme and conceal the true motivation of suicide terrorists. The truth
of the matter falls somewhere between the two. On the one hand terror groups are guilty of
manipulating and equipping vulnerable individuals for suicide terrorism – especially those who have
been unjustly traumatized - to take on martyrdom as a means of fighting back and for social justice.
But on the other hand the individuals that come to terror groups come as a result of the numerous
human rights abuses, war losses and the conditions of the continued brutal occupation. The war that
was officially declared as over in September 1999 continues unofficially via the rebels who continue to
fight with military targets and the Wahhabi terror groups who in their case take the war into its new
form: as the new Chechen jihad. This jihad from the Wahhabi point of view is being fought against an
enemy occupier for independence, human dignity and the right to declare an Islamic state. The suicide
terrorists in Chechnya are thus the product of a marriage of ideology promulgated by terror groups that
interacts with the psychological needs of vulnerable traumatized individuals that once achieved
motivates these individuals to act as martyrs for revenge and in the hope of instilling a new order in
Chechnya. These individuals are not simple criminals. They generally act out of a higher calling and
desire for social justice, although they act mistakenly due to the misguided ideology they have adopted
in a traumatized state of mind.
While the Russian forces if bent on keeping Chechnya within the federation must quell both the
insurgency occurring through the new jihad and the terrorists, the terrifying counterterrorism operations
aimed at civilians suspected of links to or activities with terrorist groups which still take place today
and the widespread corruption within the Russian forces on the ground within Chechnya likely give
fuel to, rather than are effective in accomplishing either. We conclude that in the current situation, the
terror groups find increased social resonance in the population for their ideology and shared goal of
driving the Russian forces out of Chechnya and there may be many more self recruits when the
population lives in a fear state and has had many traumatic experiences at the hands of Russian forces.
Our data support this argument. All thirty-four of the suicide terrorists who were studied had self-
recruited to the terror groups all in direct response to traumatization and one even directly revenged
upon the exact person who had tortured and killed her family members.
Governmental Measures Used in the Fight Against Terrorism
The governmental measures used in the fight against terrorism in Chechnya are extremely repressive
and severe. This can be explained on the Russian side by taking into account the gravity of this
problem: military, government and civilians (even children) have all been targets. Yet the harsh
measures until now do not resolve the problem and perhaps even worsen it because very often the
antiterrorist actions are directed to innocent civilians and terrorists without careful distinction.
mistake in policy occurs for the following reasons.
The governmental leaders in the struggle against terrorism give commands and demand that the
military and police show results of this struggle – the leaders want to see caught or destroyed terrorists.
The lower level executors are often afraid to catch the true terrorists because terrorists severely revenge
against those who have arrested or killed someone from their members. Therefore these executors often
arrest innocent young people and using torture demand that they name terrorists. Under pressure of
torture many of these victims tell any names - usually neighbors, friends or relatives. Named people are
arrested because usually no one will revenge for them with the same brutality of the terrorist groups. If
these victims of torture are left alive and freed after torture they frequently go in only one way – they
become terrorists because they do not see other ways to cope with the traumas, humiliations and
injustice that they survived. Thus the brutal, corrupt and ineffective counter-terrorism measures stops
few real terrorists and often creates more.
At the same time using widespread corruption in governmental structures engaged in the struggle
against terrorism, terrorists actively take root in them thus using these structures for achievement of
their purposes. They get jobs in these structures, giving large bribes. They receive the right to carry
weapons, documents that allow them to pass freely through any checkpoints and so on. They have
lawyers, who giving huge bribes to judges can release from arrest members of the Wahhabit
organization. Just as the Beslan hostages told of their ordeal – the terrorists made clear that corrupt
Russian government officials had made possible their capture. Holding up dollars they shouted in
contempt, “For this money you were sold. Your government cares nothing for you.”
For those who die as actual or suspected terrorists, the families suffer not only their death but the
inability to properly bury them as the Russian government has adopted a controversial policy of
refusing to turn over to families the bodies of those considered to be terrorists. This creates conflict
and additional grief for family members as Muslim rites require proper burial of the dead.
Counter-terrorism efforts against the family members of suicide terrorists also include destroying the
communal home, creating fear so that the family fled their home, and interrogations. In our sample we
found that over half the family members had been interrogated (some eluded this by fleeing to
villages), one quarter left their homes for fear of retaliation and about fifteen percent had their
communal home destroyed as a result of the terrorist’s actions. Table sixteen shows these results.
Table 16.
Repressions to family
Frequency Percent
1 Destroy house 5 14.7
2 Left home 9 26.5
3 Interrogation 20 58.8
Total 34 100.0
Communal punishment of terrorists – that is targeting their family’s home or worse yet family
members - is a tactic used by Russian forces as was acknowledged recently by an official in the pro-
Russian Chechen government who admitted in August of 2005 that Natasha Khumadova sister of
Chechen rebel commander Doku Umarov was seized from her home in the town of Urus-Martan by six
masked men in camouflage uniforms. Aleksandr Cherkasov of the Russian rights group Memorial
states that such abductions are not uncommon but on the contrary "very much a part of the tactics of
federal forces," and that relatives of well-known rebel leaders have been kidnapped in the past.
these instances the Russian forces let it be known that the family member hostage will be released only
if the rebel leader turns himself in. Certainly this could be seen as a type of state sponsored terrorism.
When asked about these tactics and their potential deterrent effect on young recruits to the rebel forces,
rebel leader Doku Umarov answers, “Actually this has exactly the opposite effect on young people.
Now I face this issue myself. This winter, my aunt and my wife's brother went missing. I don't know --
maybe they were killed, maybe they weren't. And two relatives from Itum-Kalinskii Raion. They took
someone's wife and six-month baby. They took someone's father or brother. Because they have been
taken, I don't see fear, neither in words or conversation. On the contrary, I see aggression.”
words probably reflect the sad reality that when one loses family traumatically to injustice it can
motivate them to be willing to die as there is not much more to lose. A similar effect was found by
researchers studying targeted assassinations by Israeli forces in attempt to deter suicide bombings
among Palestinians – that the Israeli aggression could statistically be linked with an increase rather than
a decrease in suicide bombings.
Our data studying the suicide bombers support this view leading one
to believe that trying to deter terrorism by aggression against family members of terrorists is only likely
to increase rather than decrease the pool of recruits.
Measures necessary for the successful fight against suicide terrorism.
As far as successful measures necessary for the fight against suicide terrorism in Chechnya we agree
with Scott Atran that the first and most important line of defense is to prevent people from becoming
. To do so we must see changes on three levels:
On the governmental level
First, there must be an effective struggle with corruption in the law enforcement, government and
military structures. Currently Wahhabits can bribe their way through law enforcement structures, avoid
arrest and prosecution, and buy not only protection but important posts. Likewise arms are bought
directly from the Russian military, and innocent civilians are often targeted in exchange for protection
of Wahhabit groups who pay to be left alone or who so strongly revenge that military and police forces
fear touching them in favor of targeting innocents just to show some results. The war and lawlessness
in Chechnya has been a dirty business from which many Russians have financially benefited. Moscow
must show the resolve to be willing to clamp down on the business interests, corruption and money
making that is occurring in regard to illegal sales of oil, arms and corrupt dealings with terrorists.
Secondly, there must be an effective suppression of terrorism financing both through external sources
and more importantly through halting criminal activities within Chechnya which currently are
supported, as much as hindered, by Russian interests and forces. Third human rights must be observed
during carrying out of antiterrorist actions so as to not incite further recruits to Wahhabits groups and
increase popular support for their ideology.
Fourth effective political solutions must be sought after. In Fall of 2004 the Russian Mothers of
Soldiers groups weary of losing their sons to the senseless and corrupt war actively sought a meeting
with Ahkmed Zakaev who was at the time Maskhadov’s London based spokesman. Zakaev in a public
meeting in October of 2004 spoke clearly of wanting a peaceful negotiated settlement with Moscow, of
Maskhadov’s willingness to compromise on the issue of national independence and of the necessity of
both sides to recognize their mutual interdependence. Despite the fact that Maskhadov was the last free
and fairly elected president in Chechnya, Moscow resolutely refused to negotiate with him branding
him a terrorist alongside Basayev. On March 8
2005 Maskhadov was caught and killed by Russian
forces damping out the spark of a potentially negotiated settlement to end the war for which the
Russian Mothers of Soldiers had hoped. Now it is unclear if there is anyone with whom the Russian
government could negotiate. Rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadullaevll who succeeded Maskhadov
continues in Maskhadov’s policy of denouncing terrorism against civilians though he does not rule out
targeting military and he reverses Maskhadov’s policy of containing the war within Chechnya,
preferring to encourage its spillover into neighboring republics as it did in Nazran (capital of
Ingushetia) in June 2004 and in Nalchik (capital of Kabardino-Balkariya) in October 2005.
On the psychological level
First there must be timely psychological help given to traumatized people to help them to cope
successfully with the traumatic bereavement of two wars and continued skirmishes and counter-
terrorism operations. There must be programs to help in the development of mental stability of
adolescents, widows, and those whose family members who are disappeared, all of these whom are
especially vulnerable to recruitment to the Wahhabit organization. There should also be research aimed
at finding efficacious means to stop the involvement and allure of traumatized people into terrorist
organizations. We were struck by the high level of psychological contagion that existed in our sample
– two of our respondents out of the thirty two interviewed wanted to follow their family members
decision and become martyrs. Likewise we also interviewed two others who were seriously radicalized
in response to their traumatic experiences. In all of these cases psychological intervention put them
back on the path of normalcy demonstrating that it is possible to intervene and thwart the radicalization
of vulnerable individuals.
On the religious level
Religious leaders must explain the differences between militant Wahhabism and Sufi Islam as it is
practiced traditionally in Chechnya and elsewhere. Religious leaders should propagate human values
and resist those who try to use religion for terrorist goals. Religious leaders and institutes must also
understand that people often turn to religion for answers to psychological and emotional pain – caused
by traumatic bereavement, shattered world assumptions, survival guilt and so on. They should aim to
give consolation in bereavement, help people to regain their healthy psychological state by helping to
reconstruct cognitive models that help to hold the pain and despair often attached to times of war and
help people to prevent the wish of revenge, especially generalized revenge.
The importation of militant Wahhabism to Chechen culture has made a negative intervention in
Chechen society. The fall of the Soviet Union which traditionally suppressed religious expression and
the return of many to embracing more fully their Islamic roots, while lacking training in it, at the same
time as the outbreak of war created a ripe field for Wahhabism to take root in Chechnya. Wahhabism is
alien to Chechen culture and traditional Chechen experiences of Islam, yet it found fertile ground
especially among those who had been traumatized and bereaved in war. Wahhabism is a very extreme
movement and has brought a lot of harm to Chechen society. Wahhabits use traumatized people for
suicide bombing while at the same time providing to these people an extremely short-lived
psychological first-aid. As result there has been many hundreds of killed and wounded people, both
Chechen and Russian, due to suicide terrorists.
Sadly the Wahhabists who claim to preach a creed of justice and freedom for Islamic people have
contributed to a situation in which Chechen civilians have suffered the most of all in this war from both
sides – from both the Russian forces and from Wahhabism. Chechens who are a proud and educated
people and who have always pushed their children to higher education and embraced higher culture
have begun to be perceived in their entirety as terrorists. Many Chechens feel alienated and barred
from other societies, because they are perceived as wild murderers. And in other societies, especially in
the Russian-speaking world, there exists a fear and hate of Chechens as a whole, while in reality it is
only a very small minority of the population that follows the imported Wahhabi ideology and endorses
suicide terrorism. It has led to a deep isolation of Chechen society from the other societies of the world.
The two wars of independence, Russian policies, corruption in the forces, and widespread human rights
violations in Chechnya have created widespread traumatization among the population. Yet the
majority of the population continues to favor peaceful solutions and do not embrace Wahhabi ideas nor
the new Chechen jihad led by Shamil Basayev that favors targeting civilians and spreading the conflict
throughout the Caucuses. While conditions exist in which Chechen civilians continue to be abducted,
killed and submitted to terror, rebel leaders such as Abdul-Khalim Sadullaevll and Doku Umarov
refuse to give up the fight for Chechen independence. Yet while continuing the war of independence
they also call for a negotiated peace settlement and are willing to negotiate with Moscow. Likewise
they refuse to buy into the new Chechen jihad, refusing to endorse a religious war or terrorist tactics.
They fight as rebels a nationalistic war with the Russian military. Moscow would be wise to understand
this difference and rather than claiming that they are all terrorists, respond in a way that can bring
peace to the region. Otherwise the militant Wahhabi groups are likely to continue their terror campaign
unabated, and continue to spread the conflict within the region and by doing so continue to bring the
Russian failures – corruption and human rights abuses to public attention, and through terror try to
bend the will of the Russian people to give into their demands to end the war in Chechnya. In this case
both sides are losers in an unremitting battle - a war of attrition rife with corruption that neither may
Not only Russians, and the wider world, but Chechen society itself needs to fight against terrorism. It is
important to understand that Chechens must also take responsibility to stop the recruitment of youth to
the Wahhabit organizations by giving them better psychological help to cope with their traumatization.
While the Russians must work to stop the continued traumatization and bereavement in Chechen
society from harsh counter-terrorism measures and continued conflicts, Chechen themselves must also
resist in whatever ways possible the Wahhabit ideology that manipulates the emotions and cognitions
of traumatized people. Only this way can we all be winners in the war on terrorism.
See Marc Sageman Understanding Terror Networks University of Pennsylvannia Press, 2004. pgs 8, 58 for a discussion of
this history and John Esposito Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
pgs446-49 and 114-116 for a discussion of how Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab built upon the ideas of Ibn Taymiyya
whose fatwa allowing jihad against the warring Mongols (who claimed to be Muslims) opened the door for warfare against
unIslamic or unbelieving Muslims.
For an excellent discussion and definition of the global Salafi jihad see Marc Sageman Understanding Terror Networks
University of Pennsylvannia Press, 2004.
Keeping in mind that terror sponsoring organizations made use of Hinduism (the Aum Shinrykyo in Japan to poison the
subways with sarin gas), Christianity (abortion clinic terrorists who bombed clinics and assassinated abortionists and radical
Jewish Zionism (Baruch Goldstein for instance on his shooting spree in a Mosque) each to further its violent pursuits.
J. Dudayev and Y. Zarakhovich, “Terms of War and Peace” Time, March 4, 1996.
Speckhard, Anne Unpublished research interviews of Beslan Hostages August 2005.
Ruslan Khazbulatov, Vzorvannaya Jizn: Kreml’ I Russisko-Chechenskaya Voina Moscow 2002.
Ruslan Khazbulatov, Vzorvannaya Jizn: Kreml’ I Russisko-Chechenskaya Voina Moscow 2002.
For a more in-depth discussion of this topic of fictive kin see Scott Atran, Genesis of Suicide Terrorism. Science, 7 March
2003, Vol 299.
See Cerwyn Moore “Introductory Chapter: The Russo-Chechen Conflict and Contemporary Ethno-Political Violence:
Chechnya and Suicide Attacks – Chechnya” for an indepth discussion and analysis of the politics of this time period.
Unpublished manuscript. 2005.
See Nick Paton Walsh “Former Russian officer accused of being MI5 spy in Moscow” The Guardian Friday January 16,
2004; Testimony of Chris Smith, co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission October 28, 2005 before the U.S. Congress
reported on; Trenin, Dmitri; Malashenko, Aleksei and Lieven, Anatol (2004)
Russia's Restless Frontier: The Chechnya
This territory traditionally had been part of Chechnya but the map was redrawn during Soviet times. Likewise in
Dagestan there existed a group of Wahhabists who were being persecuted by the Russians. The hope was to reunite the two
groups but the traditional Wahhabists in Dagestan wanted no part of it.
See Ted Koppel Reign of Terror ABC News Nightline July 28, 2005 in which Shamil Basayev admits to interviewer
Andrei Babitsky, that other events like Beslan can be in the offing, “Of course, they can. As long as the genocide of the
Chechen nation continues, as long as this mess continues, anything can happen. Okay, I admit, I'm a bad guy. A bandit, a
terrorist. Okay. So, I'm a terrorist. But what would you call them?
Andrei Babitsky, Russia: RFE/RL Interviews Chechen Field Commander Umarov July 28, 2005.
We have classified suicide bombers as anyone who goes so far as to strap on a bomb, drive a vehicle filled with
explosives to a target or who otherwise attempts to detonate an explosive device on an airplane, in a subway or train car, or
elsewhere with the aim of dying to kill - irrespective of whether or not the bomber actually died in the attack or was
successful in detonating - as that is often not within the bomber’s control. We take the fact of being to the point of willingly
strapping on a bomb or other type of improvised explosive device or driving a vehicle loaded with explosives to a target as
enough evidence of seriousness of the intent to suicide and see the end result which is often out of the hands of the bomber
as less meaningful than the intent implied by these actions. There is some controversy as to whether or not the Dubrovka
bombers were suicide bombers as they did not die by exploding themselves as their plan to do so was interrupted by the
Russian special forces gassing and storming the building. Since we have strong confirmation from many family members,
close associates and hostages of these terrorists to dies by self-explosion and the fact that the women were already in suicide
belts we take their intent and behavior of strapping on bombs as strong enough evidence to classify them as suicide bombers
for this analysis. To leave them out of the analysis would, in our opinion, be a mistake as clearly they were intending to
carry out their suicide mission if the Russian Special Forces had not thwarted it. We consider this analogous to the many
now incarcerated Palestinian bombers who have been thwarted in the last moments before their attempts but who are also
closely studied to understand the psychology and psycho-social aspects of suicide bombers.
Regarding corruption of the Russian forces see Anna Politkovskaia A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. Basayev and the other terrorists regularly publicly state that they operate by
bribes crossing checkpoints in their first foray into Russia for terrorism ( Budyonnovsk) to taking over the school in Beslan.
These numbers are based upon our database of attacks attributed to Chechens as of the article’s writing in late August of
2005. Quantifying the exact numbers of those killed and wounded in attacks, the gender of bombers and so on is difficult as
reports vary by government and news source and specifics about the accomplished bombers are not always evident after an
attack. We have in every case used the more conservative estimates, as our experience with journalists reporting in and
about Chechnya is that they have difficulty getting reports and sometimes rely on rumors.
As of August 2005.
For a more complete analysis of this event see Anne Speckhard, “Soldiers for God: A Study of the Suicide Terrorists in
the Moscow Hostage Taking Siege,” in The Roots of Terrorism: Contemporary Trends and Traditional Analysis, Edited by
Oliver McTernan, N
ATO Science Series, Brussels, 2004. Anne Speckhard, Nadejda Tarabrina, Valery Krasnov & Khapta
Akhmedova, “Research Note: Observations of Suicidal Terrorists in Action,” in Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol.
16(2), Summer 2004, pp. 305-27. Speckhard, A., Tarabrina, N., Krasnov, V. & Mufel, N. (2005) Posttraumatic and acute
stress responses in hostages held by suicidal terrorists in the takeover of a Moscow theater. Traumatology, Volume 11,
Issue 1 (March, 2005). Speckhard, A., Tarabrina, N; Krasnov, V. & Mufel, N. (2005) “Stockholm Effects and Psychological
Responses to Captivity in Hostages Held by Suicidal Terrorists” in Traumatology
: Vol. 11, Issue 2. (reprinted in S.
Wessely & V. Krasnov eds. Psychological Responses to the new Terrorism: A NATO Russia Dialogue
, 2005, IOS Press).
In an interesting twist rebel and main terrorist leader Shamil Basayev claims taking over the planes with suicide terrorists
but not bombing them, claiming that the terrorists hijacked the planes for media attention but that the Russians themselves
downed the planes simultaneously upon learning of the hijackings. See ABC News Nightline July 28, 2005 Reign of
Terror in which Basayev claims, “They were supposed to hijack the planes and demand an end to the war. And they were
not supposed to let them land until there was some response. But they were immediately shot down. Whatever, our
hijackers weren't supposed to blow up the planes just like that. And I wonder why both planes exploded at the same time.”
Basayev it should be noted is a well-known Chechen terrorist leader who nearly always paints himself as the victimized
innocent while simultaneously claiming responsibility for very heinous terrorist acts. Nevertheless, while the official line
from Russia is that the bombers brought the planes down it must be acknowledged that it is increasingly becoming agreed
upon policy by governments that domestic planes overtaken by suicide terrorists intent on using the plane as a weapon may
be downed by military means.
See John Reuter “Chechnya’s Suicide Bombers: Desperate, Devout, or Deceived?” American Committee for Peace in
Chechnya, September 16, 2004. pp 19-20.
Bloom, Mia (2005) Dying to kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror Columbia University Press, New York
See Speckhard, Anne & Akhmedova, Khapta (2005) “Black Widows: The Chechen Female Suicide Terrorists, in Yoram
Schweitzer ed. Female Suicide Terrorists
Jaffe Center Publication, Tel Aviv, Israel; Anne Speckhard & Khapta
Ahkmedova, The Making of a Martyr: Chechen Suicide Terrorism (2006) Journal of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
Anne Speckhard, “Soldiers for God: A Study of the Suicide Terrorists in the Moscow Hostage Taking Siege,” in The Roots
of Terrorism: Contemporary Trends and Traditional Analysis, Edited by Oliver McTernan, N
ATO Science Series, Brussels,
2004. Anne Speckhard, Nadejda Tarabrina, Valery Krasnov & Khapta Akhmedova, “Research Note: Observations of
Suicidal Terrorists in Action,” in Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 16(2), Summer 2004, pp. 305-27. Posttraumatic
and acute stress responses in hostages held by suicidal terrorists in the takeover of a Moscow theater. Traumatology,
Volume 11, Issue 1 (March, 2005). Speckhard, A., Tarabrina, N; Krasnov, V. & Mufel, N. (2005) “Stockholm Effects and
Psychological Responses to Captivity in Hostages Held by Suicidal Terrorists” in Traumatology
: Vol. 11, Issue 2.
(reprinted in S. Wessely & V. Krasnov eds. Psychological Responses to the new Terrorism: A NATO Russia Dialogue
2005, IOS Press).
Speckhard unpublished Beslan interviews August 2005.
See Mia Bloom Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror, Columbia University Press, 2005.
See Robert Pape Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism Random House, New York, 2005.
See Alex P. Schmidt and Albert I. Jongman et al., Political Terrorism (SWIDOC, Amsterdam and Transaction Books,
1988), p. 5.
These fatwas continue to this day with respected Islamic philosopher Yusuf Kardavi publishing the following fatwa in
support of the Chechen jihad, although he is unclear as to whether or not he supports terrorism as part of that jihad. His
words are as following,To support oppressed Muslims anywhere on the planet is a duty of every true believer. There is no
doubt that Chechens lead a just fight in an attempt to protect their country, their religion and their dignity. By doing so, they
demonstrate the best type of Jihad in the eyes of Allah." See Pravda “Chechens are promised Heaven for killing Russians
See The Suicidal Mind, Edwin S. Shneidman Oxford University Press, 1996 in which he discusses the concept of a
psychological autopsy following a normal suicide..
See Scott Atran, Genesis of Suicide Terrorism. Science, 7 March 2003, Vol 299. pg 534
See World Health Organization
deJong, Kaz; van der Kam, Saskia; Ford, Nathan;Hargreaves, Sally; van Oosten, Richard; Cunningham, Debbie;Boots,
Gerry & Andrault, Elodie The Trauma of ongoing war in Chechnya
Medecins Sans Frontieres Report August 2004.
Akhmedova, K. (2003) Fanatism and revenge idea of civilians who had PTSD. Social and Clinical Psychiatry. Volume
12, Number 3. PP 24-32s
See also Speckhard & Akhmedova, “Mechanisms of Generating Suicide Terrorism: Trauma and Bereavement as
Psychological Vulnerabilities in Human Security The Chechen Case,” in Jill Donnelly Ed. N
ATO Science Series, Brussels,
2004. Speckhard, Anne & Akhmedova, Khapta (2005) “Talking to Terrorists” Journal of Psychohistory, Fall; and
Speckhard, Anne. “Understanding Suicide Terrorism: Countering Human Bombs and Their Senders” in Topics in
Terrorism: Toward a Transatlantic Consensus on the Nature of the Threat" (Volume I) Eds. Jason S. Purcell & Joshua D.
Weintraub Atlantic Council
Publication 2005.
See Anna Politkovskaya, “Smert’ Voyenovo Kommendanta. Pochemu pogib General Gadzhiev?,” Novaya Gazeta, 14
January 2002
, Accessed August 9, 2004 and Yuliya Yuzik, Excerpt from Nevesti Allaha.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, 22 October 2003.
Researcher Janof-Bulman posits that in normal times and given nurturing upbringings most individuals hold what she
calls world assumptions. Three fundamental assumptions that according to Janof-Bulman
generally go unquestioned and
unchallenged are: benevolence, and meaningfulness of the world and a sense of self worth. Whereas the experience of a
psychological trauma (i.e. an inescapable, horrifying and terrifying experience which is life threatening or threatens serious
injury, or in which a person witnesses or learns of the death or serious injury of another) often so challenges these
assumptions that they are completely shattered, and unable to be rebuilt. Indeed reparative psychological work with trauma
victims often involves rebuilding a cognitive frame capable of “holding” the emotional and cognitive aspects of the
traumatic event. For further explanation of this concept See Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered Assumptions: Towards a
New Psychology of Trauma. New York: The Free Press and Speckhard & Akhmedova, “Mechanisms of Generating
Suicide Terrorism: Trauma and Bereavement as Psychological Vulnerabilities in Human Security – The Chechen Case,” in
Jill Donnelly Ed. N
ATO Science Series, Brussels, 2004.
See Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma. New York: The Free
Press and Speckhard & Akhmedova, “Mechanisms of Generating Suicide Terrorism: Trauma and Bereavement as
Psychological Vulnerabilities in Human Security – The Chechen Case,” in Jill Donnelly Ed. NATO Science Series, Brussels,
See Anne Speckhard & Khapta Ahkmedova, The Making of a Martyr: Chechen Suicide Terrorism (2006) Journal of
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism Anne Speckhard, “Soldiers for God: A Study of the Suicide Terrorists in the Moscow
Hostage Taking Siege,” in The Roots of Terrorism: Contemporary Trends and Traditional Analysis, Edited by Oliver
McTernan, N
ATO Science Series, Brussels, 2004. Anne Speckhard, Nadejda Tarabrina, Valery Krasnov & Khapta
Akhmedova, “Research Note: Observations of Suicidal Terrorists in Action,” in Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol.
16(2), Summer 2004, pp. 305-27., and Anne Speckhard unpublished Beslan interviews August 2005.
See Post, Jerrold, Sprinzak, Ehud and Denny, Laurita (2003) The terrorists in Their Own Words: Interviews with 35
Incarcerated Middle Eastern Terrorists. Terrorism and Political Violence, volume 15, number 1, pp. 171-184.
39 See Laqueur, Walter (1999) The New Terrorism: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction. Oxford University
Press. P.98.
Akhmedova, K. (2003) Fanatism and revenge idea of civilians who had PTSD. Social and Clinical Psychiatry. Volume
12, Number 3. PP 24-32s
Psychic pain meaning deeply felt emotions that are painful to the individual. See The Suicidal Mind, Edwin S.
Shneidman Oxford University Press, 1996. Shneidman coined the term “psyche ache” stating that the best predictor of an
individual’s propensity to suicide is when emotional pain is experienced as overwhelming and inescapable
Personal communication with female Chechen war survivor September 2005.
For more on this see Rape and Other Torture in the Chechnya Conflict:Documented evidence from asylum seekers
arriving in the United Kingdom Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture London, April 2004; Human Rights
Watch Russia/Chechnya Report “No happiness remains” Civilian killings, Pillage, and Rape in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya
April 2000, Vol 12, 5(D). Chechnya Weekly “Mass rape of Chechen men by Federal Forces” Volume 2, Issue 28 (July 24,
See John Reuter (2004) “Chechnyas Suicide Bombers: Desperate, Devout, or Deceived?” The American Committee for
Peace in Chechnya publication. accessed June 1, 2005.
Berman, Eli and David D. Laitin Rational Martyrs: Evidence from Data on Suicide Attacks. Ed. Suicide Bombing from
an Interdisciplinary Perspective. Princeton University Press.
Myers, Steven Lee “Female Suicide Bombers Unnerve Russians” August 7, 2003 New York Times
See Speckhard, Anne & Akhmedova, Khapta (2005) “Black Widows: The Chechen Female Suicide Terrorists, in Yoram
Schweitzer ed. Female Suicide Terrorists
Jaffe Center Publication, Tel Aviv, Israel and See Anne Speckhard & Khapta
Ahkmedova, The Making of a Martyr: Chechen Suicide Terrorism (2006) Journal of Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
Reports of rape by Russian forces of Chechens abound – including rapes of both males and females. For instance in 2001
it was reported that seven hundred men were forced to watch the rape of a female by Russian forces. The men were taunted
to come to her defense, which sixty-five did. They in turn were handcuffed to an armored personnel carrier and raped.
Forty-two of these reportedly asked Aslan Maskhadov to allow them to become human bombers (a request which he
refused) and two later attemped suicide – one successful. Likewise human rights groups have documented cases of rapes of
Chechen women by Russian soldiers. These groups claim that Chechen society does not allow women to admit to rape and
that families no longer accept rape victims and they cannot marry. (Our experience with this is that when rape occurs in a
manner in which the girl has absolutely no fault the family often does not reject her and she can still marry.) See Rape and
Other Torture in the Chechnya Conflict: Documented evidence from asylum seekers arriving in the United Kingdom
Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture London, April 2004; Human Rights Watch Russia/Chechnya Report
“No happiness remains” Civilian killings, Pillage, and Rape in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya April 2000, Vol 12, 5(D); Chechnya
Weekly “Mass rape of Chechen men by Federal Forces” Volume 2, Issue 28 (July 24, 2001
and Politskovsakaya, Anna no.
49 (July 16) issue of Novaya Gazeta
Anne Speckhard Beslan Unpublished hostage interviews August 2005.
See John Reuter (2004) “Chechnyas Suicide Bombers: Desperate, Devout, or Deceived?” The American Committee for
Peace in Chechnya publication. accessed June 1, 2005, pg 23.
See Andrew Silke “Retaliating against terrorism” in Terrorists, Victims and Society: Psychological Perspectives on
Terrorism and its Consequences. Wiley, 2003 and Bloom, Mia (2005) Dying to kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror
Columbia University Press, New York pp 82.
Anne Speckhard Unpublished Beslan Interviews August 2005.
Sister of Chechen Rebel Leader Abducted, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Friday August 12, 2005.
Andrei Babitsky, Russia: RFE/RL Interviews Chechen Field Commander Umarov July 28, 2005.
Kaplan, Edward H. & Mintz, Alex “What happened to Suicide Bombings in Israel: Insights from a Terror Stock Model”
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 29:225-235, 2005
See Scott Atran, Genesis of Suicide Terrorism. Science, 7 March 2003, Vol 299. pg 534.
In an interterview for Radio Free Europe on June 3, 2005 the new Chechen resistance leader Abdul-Khalim Sadullaev
announced that he intends to promote unity and stability within the resistance and following in Maskhadov’s footsteps he
also denounced terrorist attacks on civilian targets. Although he did not rule out further attacks on Russian territory but said
such attacks would not target civilians and be limited to targeting the Russian military. For more on this see Chechnya
Page, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty accessed November 12, 2005.
... 129 Post-war danger lies in the formation of hatred and extremist ideas between conflicting parties, particularly when young people, whose mentalities have not yet matured, are involved in the war. [130][131][132] For example, young Irani students were involved in fighting against Iraqis on the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war. 133 In similar situations, when the mentality of young people is fragile, they may develop extremist ideas and concepts such as revenge [130][131][132]134 . ...
... [130][131][132] For example, young Irani students were involved in fighting against Iraqis on the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war. 133 In similar situations, when the mentality of young people is fragile, they may develop extremist ideas and concepts such as revenge [130][131][132]134 . As a result, when they work in related domains, they may be motivated to use the knowledge they have obtained to create biological or other kinds of weapons. ...
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Biotechnology became a paradigm-shifting science among all subfields of biology. The benefits of biotechnology have reached many practical fields, whether human health, animal, and/or agricultural. However, wherever there is a biotechnology practice, there is an associated biohazard with it, and its negative impact may reach all living entities including humans. Therefore, the cooperation of the leading institutions in this field has culminated in creating the concepts and applications of biosafety and biosecurity. The countries of the Middle East are considered biotechnology-practicing and have shown a clear acceptance to this field. But unfortunately, the Middle East region is one that is facing the most multi-challenges, which would constitute real and noticeable concern at the local and international levels. Such challenges represented by wars and armed conflicts, deteriorating economic conditions, the large number of refugees, and the spread of many epidemics. Thus, limiting the region's ability to deal with the surrounding biological hazards and struggling the way to the one health concept. Therefore, this article aims to shed light on the activities of the Middle East countries in the field of biotechnology and to address potential biological threats, whether natural such as the spread of viruses, or intentional such as biological attacks and bioterrorism. The article also shows the capacity of the countries of the region in the field of biosafety and biosecurity based on available information. Accordingly, some countries are lacking the required level of preparedness to face potential biological threats. Multi-institutional and international cooperation between the concerned countries will significantly enhance the capacity of the region in biosafety and biosecurity to meet the level of biological risk. Search methodology: wide range of related keywords (based on the section) combined with the name of the region, or one country individually have been searched using available search engines and databases such as google scholar and PubMed. After scanning the content of the found results, irrelevant articles have been excluded.
... Private donations originating from the Gulf States have been found to be responsible for financing the activities of Islamist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq (Keatinge 2014, Byman andMcCants 2017), where Saudis comprise the second largest group of foreign fighters after Tunisians (Bremmer 2017). Money from the Gulf States to build mosques and schools have also been blamed for radicalizing local Muslim populations in the north Caucasus who were traditionally Sufi or who were relatively secular after almost 70 years of Soviet rule in the case of the Central Asians (Speckhard and Akhmedova 2007). Russia has been concerned enough to pass laws banning Wahhabism between 1999-2001 although there is no similar provision at the federal level. ...
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... The first Russian-Chechen war attracted outside volunteers to Chechnya, including Islamist radicals who united to attack their common perceived enemy, Russia. They came not only from the Russian regions, but also from abroad, primarily from the Middle East (Speckhard & Akhmedova, 2006). Subjected to military aggression by Russia, the small Chechen territory was considered in the Islamic world a victim of a strong Christian state. ...
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By using a semiotic approach, this study explored deradicalization narrative in the two online Islamic media, Republika and Arrahmah. This study aimed at clarifying the meanings of deradicalization in Indonesia and contributing to the implementation of deradicalization project. The study was conducted by using a textual analysis, mainly paradigmatic and syntagmatic analysis. This study found Republika narrated that the deradicalization was the efforts to prevent radical ideology and to correct misinterpretation towards Islam. For Arrahmah , deradicalization was a part of war against Islam and distorted the teachings of Islam. Dengan menggunakan pendekatan semiotik, penelitian ini mengungkap narasi deradikalisasi menurut media Islam Republika dan Arrahmah versi online. Penelitian bertujuan memperjelas pemaknaan deradikalisasi di Indonesia dan memberikan sumbangan bagi pelaksanaan proyek deradikalisasi. Penelitian dilakukan dengan analisis tekstual menggunakan pendekatan utama analisis paradigmatik dan sintagmatik. Penelitian ini menemukan bahwa Republika memberitakan bahwa deradikalisasi adalah upaya pencegahan ideologi radikal dan meluruskan pemahaman Islam. Bagi Arrahmah, deradikalisasi adalah bagian dari perang terhadap Islam dan membelokkan ajaran Islam.
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Kadınlar her zaman terörizme ve siyasi şiddete karışmış olsalar da, çok az insan terörizmi kadınlarla ilişkilendirmektedir. Toplumsal cinsiyet klişelerinin aşılması ve kadın şiddetini etkileyen koşulların incelenmesi gerekmektedir. Birçok kadın terörist grupların erkek üyeleri kadar kana susamıştır ancak kadınların motivasyonları öfke, keder, intikam arzusu, milliyetçi ya da dini şevk gibi karmaşık, birleşik ve çeşitli olma eğilimindedir. Terörist gruplar neden kadın üyeler arıyor bunun nedenlerini açıklamak kolaydır fakat kadınların bu grupların eylem çağrısına katılmalarındaki motivasyonun terörist olmalarını kolaylaştırmasını açıklamak zordur. Etnik ve dini güdüyle hareket eden Kara Dullar örgütü Rusya’nın Çeçenya’da izlediği baskıcı politikalar sonucunda terörizme yönelen kadınlardan oluşmaktadır. Kara Dullar ilk olarak Şamil Basayev tarafından organize edilmiştir. Ekim 2002'de Moskova tiyatro rehine krizi sırasında siyah çarşaf giymiş, belleri bombalarla süslenmiş Çeçen kadınların görüntülerinin Rus televizyon ekranlarında görüntülenmesiyle ün kazanmışlardır. Kadınlar Rus polisinin incelemesinden daha iyi kaçmayı başardıklarından, stratejinin güçlü bir psikolojik silah olduğu ve taktik olarak başarılı olduğu kanıtlanmıştır. Çalışma, Çeçen kadınların terörü seçmelerinin çeşitli nedenleri ve bu seçimi yaparken üstlendikleri rolü açıklamayı amaçlamaktadır. Kadınların bu yolu seçmesindeki başlıca sebeplerin yaşadıkları olayların travması, kaybettikleri aile üyelerinin intikamı ve cihat ideolojisi olduğu saptanmıştır.
Terrorism connected to the North Caucasus has been pervasive in Russia between 1992 and 2018. Based on an original dataset, this article presents statistics on rates of terrorist attacks outside of the North Caucasus, their geography and targets, and the tactics used. It argues that terrorism by North Caucasian insurgents has retained a strategic logic despite their conversion to radical Islamism. Accordingly, the erosion of its strategic logic was the principal factor that determined the end of North Caucasian terrorism is a case that allow analysts to examine.
The chapter covers the applicability of the game theory on secessionist movements. Though research has been completed on game theory concerning secession in multinational states, games incorporating the impact of external interference on the secession process have not been developed. The impact of a competing power on a multinational state containing one or more secession movements is explored. Relying on a recursive game, this study provides evidence that international powers outside the state benefit empirically from supporting secession movements and by undermining cooperation. If the multinational state is destabilized through secession or decentralization of power, the external player may utilize the resultant vacuum to exert greater influence in the area.
Religion is also a contested term. One definition presents it as a social system of particular behaviors, values, worldviews, scriptures, sacred places, predictions, morals, or groups; such social system connects all these human practices to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements.
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October 2002, 800 plus hostages were held for three days in a Moscow theater by suicide terrorists armed with bombs. The stand-off ended when Russian Special Forces gassed and stormed the theater. One hundred thirty of the hostages died. The authors - an American psychologist and colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences - began to collaborate soon after the event. This article reports on interviews with eleven hostages regarding their psychological responses to captivity including their expressions of Stockholm syndrome.
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In October 2002 armed suicide terrorists held over 800 theatergoers hostage for three days. The standoff ended when Russian Special Forces gassed and stormed the theater. The terrorists were killed and hostages were dragged to buses that took them to hospitals where unprepared doctors struggled to revive them. 130 hostages died: 125 from the gas, only five directly from the terrorists’ actions. An American author collaborated with colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences shortly after the event to study acute psychological responses of the hostages. This paper reports on posttraumatic and acute responses following the event in eleven hostages and makes recommendations for short-term interventions following such an ordeal.
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An analysis of three years of suicide bombing data in Israel reveals an increase in such attacks through March 2002 followed by a steep decline through the end of 2003. The authors propose a terror-stock model that treats the suicide bombing attack rate as a function of the number of terrorists available to plan and execute suicide bombings. The intent of Israeli tactics such as targeted killings and preemptive arrests is to reduce the capacity of terror organizations to commit attacks. When fit to the data, this model suggests that the targeted killing of terror suspects sparks estimated recruitment to the terror stock that increases rather than decreases the rate of suicide bombings. Surprisingly, only the deaths of suspected terrorists, and not Palestinian civilians, are associated with such estimated recruitment. Although Israeli actions have reduced the rate of suicide bombings over time, it is preventive arrests rather than targeted killings that seem more responsible for this outcome.
Using semi-structured interviews, 35 incarcerated Middle Eastern terrorists have been interviewed - 21 Islamic terrorists representing Hamas (and its armed wing Izz a-Din al Qassan), Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah, and 14 secular terrorists from Fatah and its military wing, PFLP and DFLP. The purpose of the research was to understand their psychology and decision-making in general, and with special reference to their propensity towards weapons of mass destruction.
Krasnov eds. Psychological Responses to the new Terrorism: A NATO Russia Dialogue
  • Wessely
Wessely & V. Krasnov eds. Psychological Responses to the new Terrorism: A NATO Russia Dialogue, 2005, IOS Press).
Soldiers for God: A Study of the Suicide Terrorists in the Moscow Hostage Taking Siege, " in The Roots of Terrorism: Contemporary Trends and Traditional Analysis
  • Anne Speckhard
Anne Speckhard, " Soldiers for God: A Study of the Suicide Terrorists in the Moscow Hostage Taking Siege, " in The Roots of Terrorism: Contemporary Trends and Traditional Analysis, Edited by Oliver McTernan, NATO Science Series, Brussels,
Kreml' I Russisko-Chechenskaya Voina Moscow
  • Ruslan Khazbulatov
  • Vzorvannaya Jizn
Ruslan Khazbulatov, Vzorvannaya Jizn: Kreml' I Russisko-Chechenskaya Voina Moscow 2002.
Introductory Chapter The Russo-Chechen Conflict and Contemporary Ethno-Political Violence: Chechnya and Suicide Attacks – Chechnya " for an indepth discussion and analysis of the politics of this time period. Unpublished manuscript
  • Cerwyn Moore
Cerwyn Moore " Introductory Chapter: The Russo-Chechen Conflict and Contemporary Ethno-Political Violence: Chechnya and Suicide Attacks – Chechnya " for an indepth discussion and analysis of the politics of this time period. Unpublished manuscript. 2005.