Saturday, August 30, 2014

Caucasus Report

Why Did The North Caucasus Insurgency Fail To Attack Sochi Winter Olympics?

In central Volgograd, Russian Cossacks look at portraits of people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts.
In central Volgograd, Russian Cossacks look at portraits of people suspected of involvement in terrorist acts.
The two suicide bombings on consecutive days in late December targeting public transportation in Volgograd compounded existing fears both in Russia and abroad that the North Caucasus insurgency posed a major security threat to the Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi in February. Self-styled Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov had called on his fighters in an appeal posted online last July to use “any methods Allah allows” to prevent the Games from taking place.

The Sochi Olympics have now ended without any such bloodbath, despite the threat of “surprises” for those attending the Games by two men identified as the Volgograd suicide bombers in video footage posted on the Daghestan insurgency website on January 19. 

So was the insurgency deterred from staging a major attack in light of the unprecedented security measures? Were the losses it has sustained in recent years so great as to render a major attack impossible?  (According to the website Caucasus Knot, the insurgency lost 404 fighters in 2012 and a further 298 in 2013). Or was the decision taken to harbor resources and manpower in order to perpetrate attacks on other targets where security is more lax and the chances of inflicting serious damage concomitantly greater?

True, security measures for the Games were unprecedented, encompassing 70,000 police and security forces. But even so, the third explanation is the most plausible. It should be borne in mind that the insurgency never regarded disrupting the Olympics as an end in itself. On the contrary, it is engaged in a long-term campaign to compel the central Russian government to withdraw its military presence from the North Caucasus:  any operation to disrupt the Winter Olympics would have been just one battle in that campaign.

Two recent statements by different insurgency groups suggest that suicide bombings across the Russian Federation will be a primary tactic in that ongoing struggle. A hitherto unknown group calling itself Ansar al-Sunna that claimed responsibility for dispatching the two suicide bombers to Volgograd warned in a statement addressed to “Russia’s crusaders,”  “attacks like those carried out in Volgograd were just the beginning of your sufferings, if you do not come to your senses and take your forces back from the lands of the Caucasus. Otherwise, the attacks will continue, including chemical [ones], if Allah wills it.”

That statement goes on to warn that “every region, every city, street, district -- we shall fill your homes with blood!” in retaliation for the sufferings Moscow has inflicted on the Muslims of the North Caucasus. It stresses that “each one of our warriors is waiting for the order from his amir [commander] in order to blow up your peace and calm the way it happened in Volgograd.”

A similar statement by the Information and Analysis Service of the Daghestan insurgency wing affirms that “today one mujahed can destroy tens, or even hundreds of people in your cities. And do not think that those losses will be imperceptible for you. The quantity of these explosions will only grow, and they will reach many of you.”

Where and when the next attack(s) might take place is impossible to predict.  Also unclear is whether Ansar al-Sunna does indeed have chemical weapons at its disposal to use against the Russian population. One U.S.-based analyst has suggested that militants from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria might have acquired such weapons from looted Syrian government stockpiles, although he acknowledges that transporting them to Russia would not be an easy matter. 

-- Liz Fuller
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 27, 2014 20:55
Why was there no bloodbath in Sotschi? Because Doku Umarov has spent the entire Olympics watching competitions on TV and supporting the Russian figure-skating team and the South-Koreans. So, he had to time to prepare and terrorist attack :-)).
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 02, 2014 09:45
He, Eugenio, knows. They were together with Doku,
In headquarters of the Russia's "shaby" of expansion,
Enjoying Russian figure-skating of dressed like "ofitcerik"
With "pogrom" mean face, dancing imperial "neskladuhen".
Russia terrorize even ethnic Russians - as excuse-limerick,
Not its Olympic stealing and cover-up Ukrainian "pogromik".

by: Anonymous
February 27, 2014 23:20
"""Why Did The North Caucasus Insurgency Fail To Attack Sochi Winter Olympics? """

because US must pay more ......
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 02, 2014 09:56
US don't pay Doku - you, Eugenio and Russian "shtaby" pay.
Doku didn't spoil Russian hefting Foreign currencies in Sochi,
And under no circumstances he'd give less excuse to invade,
Ukraine, if Putin would have to say: - "In Sochi Doku mochit!"

by: Anonymous
February 28, 2014 06:20
Russians are not fail to attack North Caucasians, they are killing our people when they want. From the İvan the terrible to Putin the loser, they are killing North Caucasians. They use aeroplane bombs, tank bombs, magnetic bombs, very many kind of bombshells... Russians know how to kill, they do not fail.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 02, 2014 10:28
To Anonymous and bellow, Jack, Milovan:
Pinning on non-Russians killings done by will,
Ordered by Russian "shtaby" to their "oboroten's"?
Prizing in the same time Russia for "know how to kill"?
Is Jack blame McCain for saving Georgia from genocide?
Is Milovan blame RFE Russian spies as hating Russians?
Is Daniel does same - while blame for it less Caucasians?
Tolerast is right. Is he afraid imagine such Russia-"bliad'"?
Anonymous goes again! Pretends by pseudo-reason that
Al-Qaeda and Doku aren't Russia, "War of Salamandras"!

by: Jack from: US
February 28, 2014 14:37
maybe Doku Umarov should have asked Senator McCain for assistance?

by: Milovan Rafailovic from: Florida
February 28, 2014 17:13
Why do you use the word "insurgency", why don't you call them for what they are: terrorists. This site has a lot of sympathy for terrorists when they are attacking the Russians. Just like ABC's Ted Koppel used to do.

by: Daniel Linotte from: Europe
March 01, 2014 08:07
It looks as if RFE is unpleased by the lack of terrorism... North Caucasus as such is a very broad region and so-called insurgency belongs to very specific places and does not seem to receive a strong support from the local population also...

by: American Tolerast
March 01, 2014 09:01
Yes, it's weird. It's almost as if they had a hunch since, let's say, late last November that Moscow was about to sober up its troops long enough to send them abroad for yet another Russian land-grab, leaving the homeland that much more vulnerable to terrorism and, as a bonus, without the collateral damage of dead foreign tourists.

Never mind. What could possibly give them such a crazy idea?

by: Anonymous
March 01, 2014 18:43
Maybe they aren't all just bloodthirsty daemons wanting to bleed Russia slowly to death. This is the typical sort of propaganda that paints militants as unthinking baddies that you might see in some hollywood movie. The fact is, the insurgency learned from Beslan, (as Al-Qaeda learned from 9/11) that sometimes attacks can be so devastating for an enemy, that the blowback will make it harder for the insurgency to operate. That's also why there hasn't been a 9/11-style attack in the US either, not because of the NSA tracking your phone calls. I, unlike these other trolls, like you, RFE/RL, but when you engage in this kind of reductionist rhetoric that approaches propaganda, you disappoint me.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
March 02, 2014 17:35
They were busy with all the other psychopaths in Syria killing each other.

by: Anonymous
March 02, 2014 18:43
Funny, if they attack in Iraq or USA its `terrorists` if they attack in Russia its ` insurgents` or `freedom fighters`, same modus operandi, kill as much civilians as you can, but different name depending on that who they kill. If threats were made against USA or NATO civilians I guess they would be condemned and labeled criminals and demons, but threatening Russians and other people is not sin or bad. It just might happen that in some bombing western people can be killed, there are lot of them I Russia, and their families just might think that killing of those people is not freedom fighting and justified. After all same people that were killing Russian soldiers in Afghanistan in `heroic insurgency` later killed civilians in USA on 9/11, real heroes for sure.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.