Chechen Terrorism in Russia
Religion, culture and politics have played a huge role in the terrorist attacks executed by Chechen rebels in Russia. The conflict instigated by Chechen rebels stem from the fact that Chechnya, the territory they claim, became part of the national territory of Russia due to historical circumstances. Long before Russia emancipated as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Chechnya was part of an independent republic called the Mountain Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. However, that nation did not last long, as the USSR occupied it and made it into a province called the Chechen Autonomous Oblast (Kramer, 2010). To quell strong possibilities of secessionist movements growing in the province, the USSR unified it with the Ingush Autonomous Oblast. During the Second World War, leader Joseph Stalin claimed that the Chechens collaborated with the Nazis that invaded Russia during that time. That prompted Stalin to move the Chechens out of the province located near the Caucasus Mountains and dispersed them to parts of Kazakhstan and Siberia. The Chechens eventually returned to their province upon the death of Stalin (Matveeva, 2013).
When the USSR collapsed, most of the Chechens formed a secessionist movement calling on the government of Russia to recognize the independence of Chechnya. With Russia refusing to grant Chechnya independence, the Chechens engaged in a violent struggle against Russian military forces between 1994 and 1996 known as the First Chechen War. Although a ceasefire sanctioned by Russian President Boris Yeltsin effectively ended the First Chechen War, calls for Chechen independence have remained strong. The invasion of Dagestan and bombings in various parts of Russia heralded the start of the Second Chechen War in 2000. Russian military forces succeeded in destroying much of Chechnya, including the capital Grozny, in order to capture Chechen rebels and reestablish Russian control over it (Kramer, 2010). Despite the apparent defeat, Chechen rebels still proved relentless in their objectives. In 2004, Chechen rebels launched what would be among their most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history – the siege of School Number One in the town of Beslan.
The Chechen rebels held around 1000 people, including around 700 children, as captives for three days. Around 300 people, include more than 100 children, died because of the siege (Kramer, 2010). The Beslan tragedy is one of the many civilian attacks Chechen rebels instigated that earned them their reputation as terrorists, which includes the Dubrovka Theater hostage taking in Moscow in 2002, the Moscow Metro bombings in 2010 and the bombing of the Domodedovo International Airport in 2011 (Matveeva, 2013). Alleged funding from the Al-Qaeda, a major radical Islamist terrorist organization, stood as among the possible reasons behind the capacity of Chechen rebels to conduct terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, the death of leader Shamil Basayev, the one who ordered the siege in Beslan, in 206 significantly weakened the Chechen rebels in their fight for independence. Doku Umarov, the current leader of the Chechen rebels, continues to be at large (Kramer, 2010; Matveeva, 2013).
Kramer, M. (2010). Guerrilla warfare, counterinsurgency and terrorism in the North Caucasus: The military dimension of the Russian – Chechen conflict. Europe-Asia Studies, 57(2), 209-290.
Matveeva, A. (2013). The Northern Caucasus and challenges of minority governance. In O. Protsyk & B. Harzl (Eds.), Managing ethnic diversity in Russia (130-150). United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.
Terrorism in Israel
Prior to the creation of the nation of Israel over Palestine in 1948, terrorist attacks instigated by Jewish rebels characterized the conflict within the territory. Two secessionist organizations, Etzel and Lehi, took responsibility for the terrorist attacks aimed against the ruling British Mandatory and Palestinian Arabs (Nisan, 2013). Both the Etzel and Lehi share the objective of forming an independent Jewish state through independence, as advocated by activist Zeev Jabotinsky. Terrorist attacks conducted by both the Etzel and Lehi have claimed hundreds of lives, including assassinations of notable personalities such as Middle East minister resident Lord Moyne and UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden (Gordon and Lopez, 2000).
The actions of the Jewish rebels prior to the creation of Israel may have been necessary for the latter incident to occur. Nevertheless, the fact that the Jewish rebels included Palestinian Arabs as their targets has made their attacks terrorist in nature (Gordon and Lopez, 2000). Terrorism, after all, involves the coercion of civilians in order to achieve certain religious or political ends. In that regard, one could consider the Jewish rebels prior to 1948 as terrorists, since they sought to create the nation of Israel through excluding Palestinian Arabs on grounds of religion (Nisan, 2013). Furthermore, whereas the Jewish rebels became successful in driving Palestinian Arabs out of Palestine to form the nation of Israel, one should not consider their attacks as state-sponsored in nature. (Gordon and Lopez, 2000) Prior to 1948, the British Mandatory controlled much of Palestine – a fact the Jewish rebels saw as a hindrance to their Zionist goals. Therefore, the attacks by the Jewish rebels prior to 1948 could not find classification under state-sponsored terrorism, since they acted on their own accord and fought against British rule (Gordon and Lopez, 2000; Nisan, 2013).
Gordon, N., and Lopez, G. (2000). Terrorism in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In A. Valls (Ed.), Ethics in international affairs: Theories and cases (99-116). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Nisan, M. (2013). In defence of the idea of a Jewish state. Israel Affairs, 19(2), 259-272.
Islamic Extremists in the Middle East
The Hezbollah is a radical Islamist organization based in Lebanon. The main objective of the Hezbollah is the destruction of Israel as a nation, as it groomed itself as an organization legitimately organized by the Lebanese government as among its political parties (Davis, 2003). With seats in both the Parliament and Cabinet of Lebanon, the Hezbollah has established its influence well in the nation, although it has gained the notoriety of being a terrorist organization recognized by the United States (US) and Israel, among several nations (Knio, 2013). Yet, the recognition granted by the Lebanese government to the Hezbollah makes it a formidable force to reckon in terms of terrorism against Israel. Iran provides most of the material endowments Hezbollah uses for its military operations and Syria recognizes the group as a legitimate political entity (Davis, 2003; Knio, 2013).
Davis, J. (2003). Martyrs: Innocence, vengeance and despair in the Middle East. New York City, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Knio, K. (2013). Structure, agency and Hezbollah: A morphogenetic view. Third World Quarterly, 34(5), 856-872.
Latin America does not exude the kind of impression the Middle East does in terms of terrorism. Nevertheless, terrorist threats remain strong in Latin America, especially with the growing trend of globalization enabling terrorists to forge alliances with one another across the globe in order to pursue shared interests (Funk, 2013). In the case of Latin America, terrorist threats involving radical Islamist groups have been growing. Manifestations on the friendship between Venezuela and Iran grew on the premise of reforming the oil trade and both appear as among the staunchest opponents of the US. Allegations over Islamist fund-raising activities in Latin America, particularly with the Hezbollah, have been rife, according to the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) (Wright, 2007).
Such activities have escalated narcoterrorist attacks run by drug cartels, particularly within Colombia. The steady growth of the Islamic population in Latin America also adds to the prospect of more Islamist attacks happening in the region and the US. In that way, the US could suffer from the entry of terrorist contingents coming from Latin America due to its proximity to the latter (Funk, 2013). Yet, the US could not just sponsor terrorism as a countermeasure of particular Latin American nations. Given the US has given itself an image that constantly antagonizes terrorism it could not just go against its own principles by hosting its own terrorist groups (Wright, 2007). Moreover, the strong state embodied by the US would not necessitate the nation to host domestic terrorist cells. At most, any terrorist cell that emerges within the US would most likely find support from certain Middle Eastern nations rather than domestically (Funk, 2013; Wright, 2007).
Funk, K. (2013). The political economy of South America's global south relations: States, transnational capital, and social movements. The Latin Americanist, 57(1), 3-20.
Wright, T. (2007). State terrorism in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and international human rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Latin America and Islamic Jihad
The Tri-Border Region is an area in South America where radical Islamist groups, particularly the Hezbollah, conduct illicit economic activities to fund insurgencies against the US. Referring to the cities of Foz do Iguacu in Brazil, Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and Ciudad Del Este in Paraguay, the Tri-Border Region is ideal for radical Islamist groups to conduct their trade under a strong guise of anonymity due to lack of records (Abbott, 2004). Funding within the Tri-Border Region comes in the form of manufactured smuggled goods, and money laundering could eventually ensue from the profit and invested in illegal narcotics and terrorist attacks (Freeman, 2013).
While solid local efforts have yet to take place to solve the problem of the Tri-Border Region, the US has proposed three ways on how to stop operations in the area. The three ways are the following: congruence of anti-money laundering laws in accordance to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) based in Paris, France, stronger implementation of Know Your Customer (KYC) policies and the provision of lists of politically exposed persons (PEPs) in order to identify terrorists within the area (Abbott, 2004). The recommended three-way solution has yet to find proper implementation, yet it has gained the perception as a viable response against illegal activities in the Tri-Border Region (Abbott, 2004; Freeman, 2013).
Abbott, P. (2004). Terrorist threat in the tri-border area: Myth or reality? Military Review, September-October, 51-55.
Freeman, M. (2013). Financing terrorism: Case studies. United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing.