Chechnya's History Of Terrorism: Boston Bombers Linked To Restive Russian Region

  @crvillarreal on April 19 2013 11:58 AM
Chechnya
The scene of a blast that destroyed an 8-storey apartment building in the Russian capital September 13, 1999. The attack was attributed to Chechen militants. REUTERS

The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings are said to have origins in Chechnya, a restive region within the Russian Federation with a history of conflict and terrorism amid a push for independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

It is still unclear whether the suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, have any links to Chechen terrorist groups and their personal connection to the region is limited.

Tamerlan, 26, fled Chechnya as a child with his parents, eventually settling in Kyrgyzstan, where his younger brother Dzhokhar, 19, was born, according to Russia Today.

Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic, which forms part of the Russian Federation, issued a statement in Russian on Instagram distancing Chechnya from the suspects. "Any attempt to draw a connection between Chechnya and Tsarnaevs -- if they are guilty-- is futile. They were raised in the United States, and their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. It is necessary to seek the roots of this evil in America," Kadyrov wrote. 

Still, both brothers have demonstrated sympathy and support for the Chechen separatist movement in online activity, indicating views against the Russian government, but it is less clear how these views influenced their decision to carry out acts of terrorism in the U.S.

Reported Chechen terrorist activity has largely been limited to Russian targets with no record of any attacks specifically targeting Americans.

The most high-profile terrorism attack took place in September 2004, when a group of militants, under the direction of Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Basayev, seized a primary school in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia.

Students, educators and parents were held hostage in a gymnasium wired with improvised bombs -- buckets packed with explosive paste, nails and metal pellets.

Nearly 400 people were killed, the majority of whom were children, following a three-day siege by Russian security forces.

Here is a timeline of major terrorism attacks allegedly carried out by Chechen militants:

- September 1999; A series of bombings targeting apartment buildings in Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk; 293 killed.

- October 2002; Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater seized with more than 700 taken hostage; Russian special forces launched a rescue mission employing an opium-derived gas to disable terrorists, which ultimately resulted in the death of about 130 hostages.

- December 2002; Two suicide bombers target Russian-backed Chechen government headquarters in Grozny; 83 killed.

- June 2004; Government buildings in the Russian republic of Ingushetia targeted in raids; 90 killed.

- September 2004; Beslan school hostage incident; 380 killed.

- November 2009;  train traveling between Moscow and St. Petersburg bombed and derailed near town of Bologoye; 27 killed.

- March 2010; Two suicide bombers targeted Moscow metro station; 39 killed.

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