Chechen militants: ‘more prestigious’ to fight for ISIS

Syria Direct interview: Fighters from Chechnya are one of the forces behind IS’s meteoric rise in Syria. The attraction to jihad is not only ideological but practical.

“The Syrian ‘jihad’ began as a sort of proxy conflict for fighters who could not go home to fight in Chechnya or Dagestan,” says Joanna Paraszczuk, a journalist and blogger who has lived and worked in the Middle East and Russia and has a special interest in researching Russian-speaking foreign fighters in Syria. Many of them, she says, are wanted by security authorities.

ShowImageBranching out from the Caucasus and fighting for the Islamic State is now seen as “prestigious,” Paraszczuk, who writes and curates Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s blog on the Islamic State, tells Syria Direct’s Kristen Gillespie.

“IS gets a lot more media attention than the Caucasus Emirate, which they see as a parochial sort of jihad, struggling away unnoticed while the IS Chechens are part of a movement that controls vast tracts of land and is (to them) successful.” [Continue reading…]

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