Amb. Ginsberg’s Op-Ed on Dagestan and Chechnya Ridden With Inaccuracies, Mistakes

A Field Guide to Jihadi Dagestan and Chechnya,” Amb. Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post, 04.22.13
The author concludes with saying that Dagestan warrants more U.S. attention as an “Al Qaeda haven.” I disagree. Of North Caucasus republics, Ingushetia has been often more violent than Dagestan. And the latter is no Al Qaeda haven.  Chechnya once had some presense of al Qaeda, but not anymore. The younger Tsarnaev has told his interrogators that he and his elder brother (who was the leader in the duo) were aggrieved by U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I believe was part of the broader dissatisfaction with the failure of Islamists to build a caliphate. USG and other Western governments should boost effort to counter Islamist propagandists who claim they are fighting a global holy war against infidel powers led by US who seek to stop them from building a caliphate. The governments should also do a better job to integrate Moslem immigrants and get early warning about their radicalizations. Amb. Ginsberg should either write about Morocco, where he has served as an ambassador, or properly research the subject before writing about it.
See more comments in Italics below:
The Northern Caucasus of Russia, comprising five Islamic Russian Republics (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia), have for decades been an "off-the-radar" safe haven for Islamic salafist terrorism. Normally, when we think of Al Qaeda, Mali, Afghanistan, Yemen or Somalia come to mind. That the author starts with making mistakes in the very first description of the region he focuses on is disappointing. North Caucasus consists of 6 republics and 1 province, and not 5 republics as the author claims. The author forgot to mention the Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkesia and Stavropolsky Krai region. He makes another mistakes in listing North Ossetia among“five Islamic Russian republics”- North Ossetia is predominately Christian (60 percent of Ossetians – that account 65 percent of its population – is Christian. Russians, who are  Orthodox Christian account for 20% of population.)
Tamelian Tsarnaev's alleged terrorism in Boston has changed all that. We can add the Caucasus to yet another dangerous place for the American homeland. His name is Tamerlan, not Tamelian.
The forever unstable Chechnya and the jihadi-infested Dagestan (the largest of the Islamic Russian republics) have been thrust into the limelight as potential inspirational sources of Tamerian Tsarnaev's terrorism. Again, his name is Tamerlan, not Tamerian.  And Tatarstan  is larger  (albeit Tatars – some 48%, so not majority, but close). Tatarstan has population of 3.8 mn and total area of 68,000 sq. km compared to Dagestan's 2.9 mn population and total area of 50,300 sq km. Having returned in 2012 to visit the failed state of Dagestan and Chechnya for six months, Tsarnaev may have had more than mere familiar visitations at play. That is a pretty long time just to visit grandma. What took him back to the jihadi-ridden Russian republics which are notoriously ground zero for Islamic-bred terrorism throughout the Caucasus?Anyone who finds time to google images of modern downtown Grozny would never think Chechnya is a failed state – it has recently built highest skyscraper outside Moscow – it looks like Dubai.

The Tsarnaev family is just another refugee family tragedy — part of a larger Islamic Chechnyan diaspora which fled their homeland following the two bloody terrorist wars that befell Chechnya following the fall of the Soviet Union. It's Chechen, not Chechnyan – repeats the mistake throughout the text….
Ironically, Chechnya has been largely pacified. It is next door, in Dagestan, where the real jihadi extremist groups have taken root. Of all NC republics, Dagestan has been at times safer than Ingushetia, actually.
But one thing is tragically certain: whether Tsarnaev was acting as a lone wolf or at the instigation of a Caucasus-based jihadi terror network, "Dagestan" warrants greater focus by U.S. authorities as another spawning ground for global terror and an Al Qaeda safe haven. Dagestan is not al Qaeda haven. Chechnya once had some presense of al Qaeda, but not anymore.


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