“Most local imams in Dagestan shun radical views, but they have found it hard to counter the appeal of radical ideas promoted by the Islamic State. Some imams who spoke against radical Islam have been killed.” Why have they “found it hard to counter the appeal of radical ideas promoted by the Islamic State”? To Western leaders such as David Cameron, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Pope Francis, the U.S. Catholic bishops, and a host of others, it is patently obvious that the Qur’an teaches peace and that Islam is a religion of peace. So it ought to be child’s play for these imams in Dagestan to refute the twisted, hijacked version of Islam presented by the Islamic State.
Here’s an idea: why doesn’t Barack Obama send Kerry to Dagestan to explain to young Muslims how the Islamic State is misunderstanding and misrepresenting Islam? Or maybe Pope Francis could go there, or he could send some Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic bishop — say, one who knows that Islam is at its core a peaceful religion and who moves actively to silence and ostracize those who say otherwise — to the Islamic State, straight to Raqqa, to explain to the caliph how he is misunderstanding Islam. That would clear up this problem in a hurry. I volunteer to pay the bishop’s airfare.
“Islamic State on recruitment spree in Russia,” by Arsen Mollayev and Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press, October 28, 2015:
MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) — The Russian province of Dagestan, a flashpoint for Islamic violence in the North Caucasus, is feeding hundreds of fighters to the Islamic State in Syria — and now some are coming back home with experience gained from the battlefield.
The departures mean that the region itself has become markedly less violent recently with fewer bombings and shootings. And the returning fighters have either landed in jail or been kept under close police surveillance. But there are long-term concerns that the presence of radical Muslims trained in IS warfare could lead to greater instability and violence.
“We can’t allow them to use the experience they have just gained in Syria back home,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently.
Eduard Urazayev, a former minister in Dagestan’s provincial government, and now a political analyst, said that poverty and unemployment in the region made the IS recruiters’ job easier. “If the high level of corruption and unfavorable socio-economic situation remain,” Urazayev said, “it may further fuel protest sentiments and increase sympathy for the IS.”
There it is again: the myth that poverty causes terrorism. In reality, study after study has shown that jihadists are not poor and bereft of economic opportunities, but generally wealthier and better educated than their peers. CNS noted that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”
The Islamist insurgency that has swept Russia’s North Caucasus after two separatist wars in Chechnya has a proclaimed goal of carving out an independent state governed by Shariah law. The Caucasus Emirate, an umbrella group comprised of rebels in several Caucasus provinces, has sworn allegiance to the IS.
Alexei Malashenko, an expert on Islam with the Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow office, said that officials in the Caucasus had an interest in encouraging the militants to move out of the region.
“A drop in the Islamists’ activity and the reduction in the number of casualties in the North Caucasus in 2014-2015 were the result of militants leaving for the Middle East,” Malashenko wrote in a recent article.
Officials said they were keeping close watch on those who return. Dagestan authorities have tried to register all followers of Salafism, a radical branch of Sunni Islam, taking their fingerprints and DNA samples.
Sharaputdin Arslanbekov, a police official in Makhachkala in charge of fighting extremism, said the official number of Dagestan residents who have left for Syria stands at 419, but reliable intelligence indicates that the actual figure is around 700, a significant share of an estimated 2,500 Russian citizens with IS.
Arslanbekov said IS recruiters were working actively in universities and schools, taking advantage of economic and social problems in the region. “The recruiters are quite sly and well-prepared, they know methods of ideological indoctrination and are good psychologists,” he said….
Along with the poor and the desperate, IS nets have caught some members of the middle-class. A second-year student of the elite Moscow State University, who studied Arabic and developed an interest in Islam, left to join the IS but was detained on Turkey’s border with Syria a few days later after her father raised the alarm.
Most local imams in Dagestan shun radical views, but they have found it hard to counter the appeal of radical ideas promoted by the Islamic State. Some imams who spoke against radical Islam have been killed.
Muhammad-Haji, an imam in Makhachkala, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared Islamist revenge, said many young people fell under the spell of the extremist ideas and he found it hard to persuade them to change their views.
Tanya Lokshina, the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch, said that police abuses fueled anger against the authorities, contributing to the popularity of IS among young people in the region….
In other words, don’t fight back against jihad terrorism, it will only cause jihad terrorism.