Chechnya is back in the news with the hostage-taking crisis in Moscow. Chechnya falls off the front page so fast, it’s hard to remember what exactly has been going on there all this time. Alt.Muslim featured the crisis on their front page, with a number of good links. Bill Allison of [who I’ve been reading quite I bit since I found Aziz of referencing him] talks about his general sympathy for the Chechen people despite his suspicions that wahhabi activists will be at the heart of the recent terrorism. I don’t really want to turn into a political blog, but I can’t resist giving my synopsis on this one:

After the first Chechen war with the grace of Allah the Chechens won and established their independence with Aslan Maskhadov as their elected president. For three years, no country in the world would recognize Chechnya, not even Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, that was one of only two countries in the world to recognize the Taliban, and a longtime foe of the Russians!

Why is that?

In 1998, Aslan Maskhadov came to Washington DC. I heard him speak. He declared that Chechnya was a nation of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’at, that they were a proud muslim people and they didn’t need anyone coming into their country to try to re-educate them about their religion. He declared that Chechnya would gladly take the help of any friend but that it had to come openly, without interfering with their way of life, their Deen. And he declared that Wahhabi interlopers would not be tolerated within the borders of Chechnya.

While the Saudis may not have recognized Chechen independence, they did give money. But it completely bypassed the Republic of Chechnya and its elected president Aslan Maskhadov, and straight into the hands of warlords like Khattab and Shamil Basayev. By 1999, Aslan Maskhadov had survived three assassination attempts.

And then, in 1999, while Chechnya was still ravaged by war, still unrebuilt, still unmended, Khattab, Basayev and their troops invaded Russia, occupying villages in Daghestan and declaring an Islamic state.
That was the start of the second Chechen war. If there is a clearer proof for the lunacy of the wahhabis, I don’t know what it is. Never mind theology even. Invading Russia? Nobody invades Russia.

Now the nephew of Arbi Barayev has done this. One of the articles Alt.Muslim links to has this to say:

However, Dzhafar Zufarov, an influential mufti in southern Russia, said that Barayev was paid to take over the theater and that the money may have come from sources in Saudi Arabia.

Increasingly, Chechen rebels have found a bulwark in Islam and a source of funding and political support in Arab nations, which helps explain the growing influence of outside Islamic groups in Chechnya.

A very interesting documentary movie looking at Chechnya between the wars from a military perspective is available from Combat Films. It’s called Immortal Fortress. I’ve seen the documentary. It is very evenhanded or even pro-Chechen, praising them for their incredible victory. They interview numerous key figures from the First War. Priceless footage includes Shamil Basayev reminiscing fondly about the virtues of communism. Now these same people at Combat Films who have seen the region firsthand and sympathized with the Chechen struggle have this to say:

Unfortunately, the question of Chechen independence and Russia’s sovereignty has been severely obscured by massive human rights abuses by both sides-turning the conflict into a highly polarized emotional battleground. During the inter-war period (1996-1999), dozens, even hundreds, of foreigners have been kidnapped in and around Chechnya. Ethnic neighbors like the Dagestanis have suffered the most at the hands of a vicious sub-culture in Chechnya bent on ransoming its victims. Americans, Poles, French, and British have also been captured, brutalized and even killed at the hands of rogue elements of Chechen society.
emphasis mine

Are these rogue elements, the attempted assassins of Maskhadov, the wahhabis, and the hostage-takers in Moscow one and the same, overlapping groups or separate elements? I guess I can’t say for sure. But I know how I feel.

More on Wahhabi proselytizing in the Caucasus.

More on the hostage crisis from an eyewitness.

President Maskhadov denounces the hostage taking.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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