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Columns and Articles by Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman

June 15, 2013

The Chechens Are a Model of Dysfunction.

Some of us who are geographically impaired have been confusing the Chechens with the Czechs. All they have in common was that both suffered under the rule of the Soviet Union. The Czechs (the former Czechoslovakia) were under Soviet rule from the end of World War II until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The Chechens, however, have been ground under the Russian Empire's heel from 1830, next under Soviet rule (1917), and once again under Russia (1989). They are not a happy people in the best of times, but their current existence is so miserable that their fury has morphed from nationalist into global jihadi. The Boston Marathon bombing gave us a nasty taste of this transformation.

The Russian Empire in the 19th century was on the move, conquering peoples to the east and south, until they reached the Pacific Ocean, 11 time zones away. Their movement eastward corresponded with a like movement of the United States westward, taking on sparsely populated Native American hunting grounds, territories claimed by the French and Spanish, British Canadians, and finally reaching the Pacific. The US even bought some Russian territory when Russia needed money (Alaska and one small part of Northern California).

Russia's problems in their colonization have been much more difficult than ours. They were occupying ancient populated lands with cities, ethnically and religiously different from themselves. The natives ferociously fought for their freedom, ultimately lost, but have never forgotten. Their resentments have flared up again and again in rebellions. Unfortunately, they suffer from the same problem that faced the Native Americans: disunity. These different ethnicities hate the Russians, but often hate each other more. They have been easy to “divide and conquer.”

There are about 300,000 Chechens, a warlike people living in the mountains that separate European Russia from Asia. Their neighbors are equally tribal and warlike; one mountain in neighboring Daghestan is said to have seven villages on one slope that all speak different languages. Their only similarities are that they were only nominally Muslim, were secularized under Soviet rule, and they hate Russians.

Because of ham-handed Russian brutality in trying to tame the equally brutal Chechens and Daghestanis, what was once a mild form of Sufi Islam has been transformed into virulent jihadi Islam. Now Islamist Chechen terrorists go beyond just attacking Russians; they have become part of the global jihad.

Nastiness erupted beyond the fighting in Chechen cities in which both sides were brutal. In 2002, Chechens seized a crowded Moscow theater and held 763 people hostage, wiring them with explosives. The Russians stormed the theater after releasing sleeping gas, killing all the rebels and more than 100 of the hostages.

Chechens staged 11 terror bomb attacks on Russian civilians in 2003, and in 2004, 32 armed Islamist guerillas seized a school in Beslan, Russia (near the Chechen border), holding the children, teachers, and parents hostage under hideous conditions. When a bomb in the school accidentally detonated, the terrorists set off more bombs and opened fire, killing 335 fleeing children and adults, wounding an additional 550.

Chechens have been fleeing the horrors of their homeland for a decade now, many of them living in Europe and the United States. Most are extremely grateful for being given refuge in places so much more civil than their homeland. But those who have become radical jihadis are out in the world, looking for opportunity to recruit others “to defend Islam” and set them to terror bombing with intent to hurt as many civilians as possible.

We must separate the bulk of Chechen refugees from such few bad apples as the Tsarnaev brothers and their fanatical mother, who stupidly believes that the CIA and Mossad, not Muslims, attacked America on 9/11. What can one say about a mother who names her firstborn after Tamerlane, a monster who left mountains of skulls outside cities he conquered? She also insists that her “totally innocent” sons, despite their own confessions, were framed by the US government, the very same government that gave her ungrateful family refuge.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of Ten Inventions that Changed Everything. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.