AP has just discovered — get this — that the Chechen “separatists” and “militants” might actually be … Islamic jihadists! I know, it’s shocking beyond measure, but here are the grisly details:
MOSCOW (AP) “” The brutality and meticulous planning of the school hostage-taking and other recent terror attacks in Russia have focused new attention on the growing influence of Islamic extremists over Chechen rebels and raised suspicions of a global terror connection.
The conflict in Chechnya, which began a decade ago as a secular fight for independence from Moscow, has steadily evolved into what local and foreign militants have described as jihad, or “holy war” against Russia.
“Over time, a growing number of people in Chechnya have identified themselves with global jihad,” said Alexei Malashenko, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow office.
Fundamentalist Islamic groups have methodically recruited followers among Russia’s 20 million Muslims since the 1990s, often driving mainstream Muslim clerics from their mosques in such Caucasus regions as Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkariya, both near Chechnya.
Along with radical Islamic doctrines, Arab fighters and instructors also have brought new tactics to Chechnya, such as suicide bombings. “They act as a catalyst and give an international dimension to these attacks “¦ as part of global jihad,” Malashenko said.
Isn’t that amazing? And look: it’s September 27 today — only ten months after you could have found this out by reading Jihad Watch, and only a little more than a year after you could have found it out by reading Onward Muslim Soldiers. Got to hand it to AP: they’re right on top of things.