Syria Report: Russia Encouraged Jihadists to Join Conflict in 2014

By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Russia encouraged jihadists from the North Caucasus to join the Syrian conflict in 2014, according to a report by the International Crisis Group.An unnamed Russian security source in the North Caucasus told the ICG in November 2015: We opened borders, helped them all out and closed the border behind them by criminalizing this type of fighting. If they want to return now, we are waiting for them at the borders.

Everyone’s happy: they are dying on the path of Allah, and we have no terrorist acts here and are now bombing them in Latakia and Idlib [in northwest Syria].A Salafi activist supported the claim, “This is 100 per cent: they…turned the green light on and opened the road; there are lots of indications.”Fighters from the North Caucasus, especially Chechnya, have been involved in rebel factions and in the Islamic State.Chechen security services reportedly disagreed with Russia’s FSB intelligence service over the policy, and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov soon objected. Investigative journalist Elena Milashina explained:

This issue is under Kadyrov’s personal control; he very quickly realised that Chechen jihadists in Syria are a serious threat. After Umar Shishani [a Chechen commander in the Islamic State] threatened him and his inner circle, he took it as a personal matter. A Chechen journalist said that Kadyrov understands “that any Chechen who fights anywhere in the world but who does not fight for him is his personal threat and danger, because the moment an opportunity arises, this Chechen will fight against him”.The Russians officially changed their policy in summer 2014 to strict control of the flow of jihadists. More than 100 citizens, including women, suspected of heading to Syria were stopped at the borders in 2015, according to the State outlet TASS.