Ties Between North Caucasus and Foreign Terrorist Networks

  • There have been multiple reports of reports of natives of the North Caucasus training or fighting in foreign countries. Some of these reports have proved to be unsubstantiated.
  • In 2002 Chechen members of al-Qaeda were killed in a gun-battle with Pakistani troops in Azam Warsak and two natives of Kabardino-Balkaria were identified by Russian investigators among Guantanamo detainees who were seized in Afghanistan on suspicions of having links to the Taliban or al-Qaeda.
  • Al Qaeda has has been nvolved in the terrorist insurgency in Chechnya since 1995. Osama Bin Laden sent al-Qaeda agents to the North Caucasus and sponsored local networks. Bin Laden sent Jordanian-born warlord Khattab and nine instructors to Chechnya in 1995 to set up terrorist training camps, which they did.Al Qaeda’s would be No 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri travelled to the North Caucasus in 1996, purportedly to try acquiring nuclear weapons in Russia. Al-Zawahiri was detained and deportedii while Russian security services killed both Khattab and most of the representatives Al Qaeda sent to the North Caucasus.
  • In 2004 U.S. security officials were reported to be investigating a intelligence report that a group of 25 Chechen terrorists illegally entered the United States from Mexico in July 2004. This report turned out be not true.
  • In 2005 France’s Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said members of Al-Qaeda groups, which had been trained in Afghanistan to commit acts of biological terrorism, relocated to Georgia’s then unruly Pankisi Gorge, which borders Chechnya, after launch of the U.S.-lead campaign in Afghanistan. He said these groups carried out BW experiments in the gorge, where majority of population is ethnic Chechens and where Chechen rebels would retreat to during Russia’s second war with Chechnya to rest and recreate.
  • Russian security services counted 16 natives of Russia’s Moslem republics were training in terrorist camps in Pakistan as of February 2011.
  • More recently, natives of Chechnya have been reported to be fighting in Syria and even forming their own unit there. A son of late Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelayev was killed while fighting in Syria.
  • There have been also been reports of members of North Caucasus-based networks going to Europe to rest and come back to the region to resume fighting or staying there to plan attacks. In January 2013 Spanish and French authorities announced arrest of three suspected Chechen militants. The detainees were linked to an al Qaeda cell in the southern Spanish city of La Linea de la Concepcion that was broken up in August, Spanish Interior Ministry said.