Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

What makes Russians join terrorist gangs?

During the investigation of the horrific attacks in Volgograd, suspects with Russian last names were named yet again. It seems that the trend of an inflow into the Russian Wahhabi bandit underground becomes consistent. What are the reasons behind this terrible phenomenon?

Russian names pop up in criminal reports from the North Caucasus and southern Russia increasingly more often. It seems insane, but this is the reality. One of the organizers of the October terrorist act in Volgograd when a passenger bus exploded was an ethnic Russian Dmitry Sokolov.

The investigation of the recent horrific terrorist attacks also mentioned a Russian name. While the involvement of Mr. Pavlov in the crime has not been proven yet, the very appearance of Russian names in the attacks is quite symptomatic.

This, unfortunately, is not the first case where perpetrators of terrorist acts were not ethnic Muslims, but neophytes from the Russian environment. The infamous gang leader Said Buryat, while not a Slav, was not born in a Muslim environment. Alla Saprykina (who later took the name Aminat Kurbanov) killed Shaykh Afandi using an improvised explosive device. Very few people are surprised with such a phenomenon as Russian Wahhabi terrorism.

While some clarity about the origin of the bandit underground in the Caucasus does exist, the appearance of Russians there (who travel to the Caucasus even from Moscow) remains a mystery.

Why there has been a clear trend for the influx of ethnic Russian to the Wahhabi underground in the North Caucasus in recent years?

Pravda.Ru talked to Ruslan Kurbanov, a scholar of Islam, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, director of Altair fund to find an answer to this question.

"I believe that this issue is multi-layered and multi-faceted. The increasing number of Russian Muslims is obvious. The increasing number of Russian militants is also real. The management of interfaith relations is quite difficult and confusing in Russia. No social niches have been formed with the help of the state or without this help in the civil field for people who do not belong to the Muslim ethno-culture by birth but adopt this religion. There are no adaptive mechanisms for them, no niches where they could fulfill themselves.

On the contrary, they are marginalized, in some cases purposefully, in others - spontaneously. Their families turn away from them, they are not accepted by the media, the authorities do not want to do anything with them, they are like lepers. It is quite difficult to be a Russian Muslim in Russia, because public alienation and condemnation sometimes exceed all reasonable limits. I am not surprised that many people simply break down to radicalism. There is significant intolerance towards Muslims in Russia, and if a Russian person converts to Islam, they are perceived as traitors of their faith and culture, and for many it is difficult to stick to moderate positions."

The expert said that such denomination as Wahhabism does not exist. This term is used as a definition for extreme groups professing radical forms of Islam. This process is quite unnoticeable. "The radicalization of a person, whether religious or political, is similar to the process of people gradually slipping into social vices. They do it once, twice, no one pays attention, then they find themselves in a socially disadvantaged niche."

Talking about the main reason why Muslims get into the hands of radical preachers, Kurbanov spoke about lack of a coherent and correct public policy in the religious sphere. There is no one to seize the initiative from radical leaders who now work with young people not only in the Caucasus but also in Central Russia.

Harun Sidorov, the chairman of the National Organization of Russian Muslims, agrees with this position:

"If we talk about the Russian Muslims, the state policy and partly the attitude of the society, this is what makes them subject to many risks. If an explosion was facilitated by a person from the Caucuses, no one will say that all people from the Caucuses are terrorists. If an explosion was facilitated by a Russian, the blame rests on all Russian Muslims. Therefore, the only way to minimize these processes is to provide some green corridor for Russian Muslims, as it is provided at least in theory for ethnic Muslims.

Russian Muslims in Russia exist and will continue to exist, whether you like it or not. There are some Russian Muslims whose parents are Russian Muslims. There is only one alternative to ensure that they do not become enemies of the society - to recognize them as part of this society, with their niche in it where they can positively fulfill themselves without renouncing their spiritual choice or even the choice of their parents. Another thing is that without a global normalization of the attitude of the government towards Islam, development and implementation of proven strategies for changing Russia's attitude towards Islam, there will be no way to completely eliminate such excesses."

Harun Sidorov explained why radical leaders try to recruit Russians into their structure. First, it is easier for Slavic people to blend in with the crowd than it is for those from the Caucasus. Second, organizers believe that this is a psychological blow to the enemy. Third, it reinforces the alienation among Russian Muslims, and makes their individual representatives more susceptible to such risks.

Unfortunately, in Russian society the attitude towards Russian Muslims is very tense. Ethnic Muslims don't have it easy either due to the growing nationalist sentiment. The paradox is in the fact that believers of any denomination (if we do not take into account insane cult followers) usually behave in a quite restrained manner. These people are truly interested in their own spiritual development; they read religious literature and follow religious rules.

However, such people are affected by their purely formal fellow believers. Orthodox priests are affected by some of their excessively wealthy colleagues, and Muslims are affected by terrorists and cultureless youth that not only do not follow the Islamic rules of conduct, but also basic social conduct rules.

The government often not only is not trying to improve the situation, but adds fuel to the fire.

There is no terrorism in Chechnya only because of a strong arm of Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov does not oppress Islam in its relatively healthy manifestations, but encourages it. Although it sometimes backfires as excessive archaism, terrorism in Chechnya is long gone. Traditional Islam simply displaces rotten seeds. But in other republics, for example Kabardino Balkaria, where local security officials are inclined to see Wahhabi in traditional Islam, terrorism is rampant. That means that people are gradually pushed towards radicalism.

If a gardener does not shape the branches of an apple tree, cutting off some of them, this tree starts bearing bitter fruit. The same situation is with Islam in Russia. The government ignores it as a phenomenon, allows it to run wild and degenerate under pressure of absurd social stereotypes.

There is another factor that lies directly in the underground. It is noticeable that terrorists have long stopped not only to have any political demands, but to even assume responsibility for these actions.

Before, terrorists had a clear goal - to achieve separation of Chechnya. But these plans have evidently failed, and most likely for a very long time. Serious attempts to destabilize the population of Dagestan would fail because this republic does not have separatist sentiments. By and large, the bandits have long lost political motivation, becoming a destructive sect that has no specific goal other than killing for the sake of killing.

This has made them not only less predictable, but also opened doors to all sorts of crazy gangs. If before those affiliated with these structures had to share at least the idea of separating Chechnya, now the only prerequisite is personal insanity. There are plenty of crazy people everywhere among all nationalities.

Nadezhda Alexeeva


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