A leading Washington think tank says Al-Qaeda is providing growing support, including financial, to Islamic rebels in Russia's restive North Caucasus.
In its report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said Al-Qaeda has played a key role in "proselytizing jihadism" to the mujahideen in Chechnya and the Caucasus.
The report's author, Gordon Hahn, pointed to a growing number of websites linked to the insurgency that are carrying statements of support from leading jihadists such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who inspired Al-Qaeda in Iraq and is now in jail in Jordan.
Such websites, Hahn said, are also used to raise money.
Hahn pointed to the arrest by Czech police in May of eight individuals in Prague suspected of plotting attacks in the North Caucasus as possible proof of ties to Al-Qaeda.
The rebels goal is a state called the Caucasus Emirate, stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has labeled the insurgency Russia's top security threat.
Hahn noted Chechen-born rebel leader Doku Umarov has called for the Caucasus Emirate to be incorporated into global jihad.
Umarov is Moscow's most wanted man, and Washington has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.