At last, an AP story that actually identifies the Russian school terrorists as Muslim jihadists. (Thanks to LGF.) Of course, if you were reading Jihad Watch as long ago as last November, you already knew this.
MOSCOW – Rebels linked to the school hostage-taking seek independence from Russia and most want to make Chechnya a sovereign Muslim nation.
The first war between Chechen rebels and Russian forces in the past decade had less of a religious element than the current conflict, which began in September 1999.
In the 1994-96 war, separatists led by Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev appeared to be driven primarily by centuries of resentment of Russia, whose czarist army subjugated the region, and its Soviet successor, whose dictator Josef Stalin ordered the wholesale deportation of Chechens to Central Asia in 1944.
Although most Chechens are Muslim, Aslan Maskhadov, who became president of Chechnya after Russian forces withdrew in 1996, was seen as relatively secular. However, he came under increasing pressure from radical Islamic factions led by warlord Shamil Basayev and eventually declared Sharia law, or Islamic law, an idea that has less support among the public at large than it does among the rebels.
Basayev was a leader of the Chechen insurgents who mounted a raid into neighboring Dagestan in 1999 with the aim of establishing an Islamic theocratic enclave. That raid was one of the Kremlin’s justifications for trying to forcefully regain control of Chechnya and touched off the current conflict.