“Insight: Russia fears return of fighters waging jihad in Syria,” by Alissa de Carbonnel for Reuters, November 14:
(Reuters) – A scrawny 15-year-old this summer became the first from his deeply religious Muslim village in Russia’s southern Dagestan province to die fighting alongside rebels in Syria.
Some regard him as a martyr for joining the rebels in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who is supported by Russia.
Moscow now fears that hundreds of Russian-born militants it says are fighting in Syria will return experienced in warfare to join an insurgency in Dagestan and its other North Caucasus provinces by militants fighting for an Islamic state.
Violence in the region claims lives almost daily. Fifteen men from Novosasitli alone have died in shootouts with Russian forces in the last four years, locals say.
Analysts say fighters could also try to strike during the 2014 Winter Olympics in February in nearby Sochi. President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his reputation on the Games, has said militants returning from Syria pose “a very real” threat and signed off on a law this month to jail any who come home.
“The militant groups did not come out of nowhere, and they will not vanish into thin air,” Putin said on Sept 23….