But in truth, Russian residents — lots of whom are Chechens or Dagestanis from the largely Muslim North Caucasus area of Russia — are the biggest group of foot troopers in ISIS from a non-Muslim majority nation, they usually have performed key roles within the group.
According to Turkish officials the assault at Istanbul airport was carried out by terrorists from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan and was deliberate by ISIS’s management.
The Soufan Group, a New York-based intelligence consulting agency that tracks “international fighters” who’ve joined ISIS, estimates that 2,400 Russians have traveled to Syria. It positioned the variety of fighters from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan at 500 every.
In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin estimated the variety of fighters who had left for Syria from Russia and the previous Soviet republics at 5,000 to 7,000.
People from the previous Soviet republics have risen to the management ranks in ISIS. Essentially the most well-known is Omar Shishani, killed in an American airstrike earlier this yr, was an ethnic Chechen who had a $5 million U.S. reward on his head on the time of his loss of life.
He was the group’s commander in northern Syria and he additionally oversaw the jail in ISIS’s de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa, during which the terrorist group held international hostages.
The numerous position of Russians and Central Asians in ISIS can also be confirmed by the terrorist group’s personal inner paperwork.
The Combating Terrorism Heart at West Level examined ISIS recordsdata that had been obtained from an ISIS defector who gave them to NBC Information final yr.
The ISIS recordsdata contained documentation for some four,600 militants who had joined the group from all over the world.
One-hundred and forty-one of those militants listed Russia as their nation of citizenship. That makes Russia the sixth-largest nationwide contingent becoming a member of ISIS from all over the world, in accordance with the paperwork analyzed by West Level.
It additionally provides Russia the doubtful distinction of contributing probably the most fighters to ISIS from any non-Muslim majority nation, surpassing even France, the main European contributor of fighters to ISIS.
The ISIS files additionally embody data of 72 Uzbeks and 47 fighters from Kyrgyzstan.
Most of the militants becoming a member of ISIS from Russia and the previous Soviet republics had been concerned in Islamist insurgencies of their house nations.
Chechnya has produced many of those fighters following the 2 Chechen Wars that started within the 1990s, pitting Russian forces in opposition to Chechen separatists.
The Russians deployed brutal ways in Chechnya, which radicalized the insurgents and moved them in a extra Islamist and militant route.
Equally, the Uzbek authorities has lengthy waged a brutal warfare in opposition to Islamist insurgents of their nation.
A testomony to the ubiquity of the Russian fighters in ISIS was offered by Jamal Khweis, a 26-year-old from Virginia, who was captured in Iraq by Kurdish forces earlier this yr after allegedly having fought for ISIS.
Khweis advised his captors that in his time in ISIS guesthouses he was surrounded by Russians and Uzbeks.
ISIS caters to its potential recruits in Russia with Russian language propaganda. Final yr, ISIS debuted a Russian language propaganda journal titled Istok and the group additionally launched Furat Media, a Russian-language social media wing, via which it declared its institution of an ISIS “province” within the North Caucasus space of Russia.
The easiest way to crack down on the risk posed by the 1000’s of fighters from Russia and the republics of the previous Soviet Union combating with ISIS is for these governments to offer Interpol the names of these militants that they know have gone for coaching and combating in Syria.
Proper now Interpol solely has the names of some 5,00zero militants who’ve educated in Syria, which is just a comparatively small fraction of the some 30,00zero “international fighters” who’ve gone there.
The Istanbul airport assaults remind us that although ISIS is rooted within the Center East and attracts upon a contingent of alienated European Muslims, fighters from Russia and the previous Soviet republics additionally play an essential position in its self-styled jihad.