Russia’s Caucasus: breeding ground for terror

MAKHACHKALA, Russia — Militants from Chechnya and other restive provinces in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus have targeted Moscow and other areas with bombings and hostage-takings, but if it turns out that the suspects in the Boston bombings are linked to those insurgencies it would mark the first time the Russian conflict had spawned a major terror attack in the United States.

The suspects were identified by law enforcement officials and family members as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens with ties to the Russian region. There was no immediate information of their links, if any, to any insurgent group.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a gun battle with police in Massachusetts overnight, officials said. His 19-year-old brother escaped.

Before moving to the United States, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived briefly in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic that has become the epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On his page on the social networking site VKontakte, Tsarnaev said he attended School No. 1 from 1999 until 2001.

The principal of School No. 1 in Makhachkala, Irina Bandurina, told the AP that Tsarnaev left for the U.S. in March 2002.

The suspects’ father, who lives in Makhachkala, told the AP his younger son was a second-year medical student and “a true angel.”

The conflict in Chechnya began in 1994 as a separatist war, but quickly morphed into an Islamic insurgency dedicated to carving out an independent Islamic state in the Caucasus.



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