THE NORTHERN CAUCASUS: SPREAD OF JIHAD

Igor DOBAEV


Igor Dobaev, D.Sc. (Philos.), professor, Deputy Director, Center for Systemic Regional Studies and Forecasting at the Southern Federal University (Rostov-on-Don, Russia)


The post-perestroika separatist-minded elites that came to power in Chechnia in the early 1990s and aspired to achieve ideological consolidation of the Chechens made an attempt to revive some of the elements of the old traditional social system based on blood kinship. At the grass-roots level there were clans of close blood relatives (from the bottom up: dozal, var, varis) and larger social structures (taips and tukhums) that together formed the Chechen nationnokhchi kam. The great number of taips and tukhums and the fact that the Vainakhs lacked any statehood experience buried the idea. The Chechen leaders had to place their stakes on the ideology of traditional local Islam of the Sufi virds Kunta-hajji and Vis-hajji that belonged to the Qadiriyya Tariqah (known in Chechnia as Zikrizm). This did not create the desired ideological cohesion for the simple fact that the Chechens are scattered throughout several dozen Sufi structures (Vird brotherhoods). This moved integration Islam, which rejected everything that might divide the Muslimsraces, ethnic groups, taips, and other local ethnic and confessional groupsto the frontline. In the Northern Caucasus it is known as Wahhabism (Salafism).

Today, with part of the road toward restored normalcy in Chechnia successfully covered, the situation still leaves much to be desired. The defeat of the separatists in Chechnia and the spread of the Salafi ideology across the Northern Caucasus transformed resistance partly into guerilla warfare and partly into mobile and loosely connected terrorist groups.

The Youth Jamaats: Institutionalized Terror

Today the extremist religious-political organizations are functioning in the Northern Caucasus as network structures with no obligations to their soldiers and no compunction about aims and means. In the broader sense the networks are self-organizing polycentric structures oriented toward specific aims and tasks and consisting of completely autonomous or even temporary groups with absolutely transparent legitimization of power, decentralized responsibility, and horizontal (as well as vertical) contacts and communications. They are open groups of loosely connected, equal and independent members, which means that they can spread by admitting new groups (which use similar communication codes, that is, address the same tasks and/or share similar values).

They are much more mobile and much less vulnerable than the centralized organizations; they are perfectly adjusted to infiltration into power and administrative structures, corruption practices, etc., are much more resistant and regenerate easily.

Today, and for some time in the past, the terrorist communities have been developing a network organizational form much better suited to..


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