The U.S. hasn’t paid much attention to Chechnya since the early 2000s, when the Bush Administration largely declined to intervene as rebels fought a bloody war against Russia. But with the news that the suspected Boston bombers were ethnic Chechens who moved to the United States from Dagestan in 2002, it’s time to get caught up on the separatist, predominantly Muslim Caucasian province. We’ll have more soon, but here’s what to read now:
- The Council on Foreign Relations’ backgrounder on Chechen terrorism, which describes the attacks Chechen nationals have launched in public places, against Russian-backed government buildings, on apartment buildings and trains. Chechnya has also been an Al Qaeda recruiting ground.
- A 2009 Center for Strategic and International Studies briefing on violence in the North Caucasus; 900 people were killed that year.
- A 2009 Human Rights Watch report documenting the Russia-backed regime's practice of burning the houses of Chechen insurgents.
- A 2009 article from the Stanford Journal of International Relations on the U.S.’s failure to intervene in the Russo-Chechen conflict due in part to a desire to retain Russia as an ally in the war on terror.
- A 2006 State Department cable describing, in detail, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculus in Chechnya and prospects for U.S. efforts to mediate the conflict (the author isn’t optimistic).
- C.J. Chivers’ account from the 2004 brutal hostage-taking at a school in the Russian city of Beslan by a Chechen terrorist group.
- A New York Times report from 2010 on the U.S.’ decision to label a prominent Chechen separatist leader a terrorist, even though Western governments have historically been reluctant to put Chechen insurgents into the same category as Al Qaeda. Russia “officially” ended operations in Chechnya in 2009.
- Anna Badkhen's 2010 account of the brutality of Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
- A 2011 article in Foreign Policy about corruption and violence in Dagestan, where the suspects spent time before coming to the United States.
- An October 2012 account from Long War Journal about Chechen fighters in Syria--the "Army of Emigrants and Helpers"--fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army.
- The latest news, from this past January, on two of the most wanted Chechen Islamic terrorists--also brothers--being killed in a firefight with Russian forces. Another rebel leader was killed in March.
- From this spring, Fiona Hill’s argument in Foreign Affairs that Putin is supporting Syria because he fears Sunni Islam—a dread that Chechnya instilled in him.
- A 2005 profile in the Washington Post of Ilyas Akhmadov, a Chechen rebel leader who worked his way into D.C.’s foreign policy elite.
- A few reviews of Akhmadov's 2010 book, The Chechen Struggle.
- A 2011 review in Foreign Affairs of Allah's Angels, a book about Chechnya's "black widows," the infamous female suicide bombers.
- A 2010 photoessay in The New York Times vividly documenting the Chechan conflict.