“Don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians. I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.” Many thousands? Why so many misunderstanders of Islam? Didn’t Ben Affleck say they couldn’t fill a double-A ballpark?
“Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin,” by Michael Winfrey, Bloomberg, October 9, 2014 (thanks to Joseph Zaalishvili):
When the Islamic State commander known as “Omar the Chechen” called to tell his father they’d routed the Iraqi army and taken the city of Mosul, he added a stark message: Russia would be next.
“He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” Temur Batirashvili said from his home in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, on the border with the Russian region of Chechnya. “I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.”
As the U.S. and European countries assess the risk of home-grown jihadists returning to stage attacks on their native countries, the turmoil in the Middle East also reverberates in the Caucasus. The region wedged between Russia, Iran and Turkey is an intricate web of tensions that’s erupted into violence in the past three decades in hot spots from Chechnya to Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia.
Batirashvili’s son Tarkhan comes from an area that Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses of aiding Islamist rebellions that he’s spent more than a decade trying to crush. While Russia is focusing on the conflict in Ukraine, Georgians remember the humiliation in a five-day war in 2008, when Putin helped cement the separatist movements in the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The red-bearded commander now known by the nom de guerre Omar al-Shishani is a leader of the forces fighting for an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Among them are dozens of youths from Pankisi who, disaffected by a lack of jobs and angered by Russia’s dominance in the Caucasus, have followed the call to jihad….