The Islamic State and Russia’s Soft Underbelly

For decades, Russians associated Islamist terrorism with Chechen separatists and the North Caucasus. Russian strongman Vladimir Putin can trace his rise to a counter-terrorism crackdown on Chechens perhaps aided, in part, by some false flag attacks on Moscow apartment buildings in September 1999. With the 11th anniversary of the Beslan school massacre nearing, the scars of Islamist terrorism in Russia remain fresh.

Increasingly, however, Chechnya, Daghestan, and other Russian-controlled but Muslim majority areas in the North Caucasus may be the least of Moscow’s concerns.