In a new video purportedly released by the Islamic State titled “The Fighting Has Just Begun,” the Chechen gunmen who launched the December 18 attack in Grozny pledge “bayat,” or allegiance, to ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video was released on ISIS terrorist channels on December 28. Along with the Grozny attackers pledging themselves to al-Baghdadi, they also urge other Russian Muslims to carry out attacks on Russia, according to terrorism watchdog SITE Intel Group.
The attack in Grozny occurred last week and barely made western news. No civilians were killed in the attack, although 7 militants were killed by the police. 4 were arrested. According to Russia Today, the militants attacked a police officer and stole his car before engaging in a shootout with police.
Chechnya has been a hotbed of extremist, Muslim activities since late 2000. Chechen leaders, under Moscow pressure, have struggled to keep the rising Islamist militants at bay. In a press briefing by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell at NATO meeting in Rome on May 28, 2002, he said:
With respect to Chechnya, Chechnya is an area of enormous interest to the international community. Russia is fighting terrorists in Chechnya, there’s no question about that.
When the Islamic State arose in 2014, Chechen fighters travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the battle, according to The New Yorker.
Chechnya is located in the North Caucasus region, of which its “Islamic State name,” “Wilayat Qawqaz,” or “State of the Caucacus,” is derived from. Sunni Islam spread in the region in the 1500s and became associated with fighters trying to prevent Russian encroachment in the region. The cultures have continued to clash, but Chechnya remains a federal subject of Russia.
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