Russia: Rebels With a Cause


October 16, 2005: As the dead gunmen in Nalchik are identified, it was discovered that most of them were locals. There has been more Islamic radicalism in the area, and police have recently raided two locations, made arrests and seized weapons. Islamic radicalism is popular with young men in the Caucasus because of high unemployment, government corruption and clan feuds. While the Russian economy is booming, most of the gains are going to people in the cities. Out in the rural areas of the Caucasus, things have not changed much since the Soviet days. Same weak economy, same thieving bureaucrats. Al Qaeda promises clean government and jobs, and a quick trip to heaven if you happen to get killed fighting for the cause. Out of about a million people in Kabardino-Balkaria, radical Islamic clerics have convinced a few hundred young men to take up arms and help establish an Islamic state. With help from a few dozen Chechn gunmen, the October 12 raid was apparently intended to seize weapons and explosives from the police. It failed. But there will be more violence. The unemployment and corruption is not going to leave the Caucasus any time soon.


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