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''Russia's Struggle Against Islam Is Far From Won'', Terror Expert Says

10 January 2014

By Markaz Kavkaz

The recent bombings in Sari Chin (Volgograd) expose the imperfections of the "counterterrorism policy" of Russia, Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, points out in an article for USA Today.

"The Islamist insurgency in Russia's troubled North Caucasus regions has proven to be remarkably resilient", the author writes.

In its most recent Country Reports on Terrorism, the American foreign ministry noted that 182 sabotage attacks, resulting in 659 casualties among military, police, and other gangs of Russia, took place in Russia just in the year 2012. The overwhelming majority of these attacks took place in the Caucasus Emirate.

"This state of affairs persists despite the overwhelming military force marshaled over the past two decades by the Russian government, first in Chechnya and subsequently in adjoining regions", he said in the article.

As the author writes, "Islamic extremism" in Russia is still very much alive and kicking and, moreover, is adapting (according to the Russian security services, at least one of two December's two Martyrdom attacks in Sari Chin was allegedly carried out by an ethnic-Russian convert to Islam).

There is the need for a more sophisticated, multifaceted alternative to Moscow's current, retrograde counterterrorism policy which favors force over subtlety, and which fails to take into account the drivers of Islamism in Russia (from economic privation to official discrimination)", the American advises Moscow.

In the view of Berman, the Kremlin's reaction to the events in Sari Chin is a sign that this policy will remain unchanged.

According to him, with the KGB games in Sochi now just a month away, Moscow can ill-afford international doubts about its ability to administer and provide security for the Games. "But the Volgograd bombings and the Russian government's reaction to them have laid bare the sobering reality that, despite the Kremlin's official pronouncements to the contrary, Russia's struggle against radical Islam is far from won".



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