Analysts Warn ISIS Terrorists May Attack Russia

September 17, 2014  

According to several senior US analysts, the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist jihadi danger not only threatens western Europe – the presence of hundreds of Chechen fighters in the ISIS ranks puts Russia squarely under the cross-hairs as well.

The New York-based Soufan Group intelligence firm said in June that roughly 200 Chechens are fighting in Syria, and in the recent capture of a major Syrian airbase in which Russian-made MiG fighter jets were seized, ISIS released a video threatening Russia.

“This message is addressed to you, oh (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” said an ISIS terrorist in the video. “These are your aircraft which you sent to (Syrian President) Bashar (Assad), and with the help of Allah we’ll send them back to you. Remember this. And with the permission of Allah, we’ll liberate Chechnya and all the Caucasus.”

Marvin Kalb, senior adviser to the Washington-based Pulitzer Center, told Al Arabiya that “Putin worries constantly about local insurgents getting field training in Syria, or now in ISIS, and then returning to Russia to implement their new skills. Putin doesn’t want them back in Russia, and this is a chronic nightmare for him.”

That assessment was shared by senior analyst Alex Melikishvili of US-based research institute HIS, who told the Arab news source “the longer it takes to destroy ISIS, the higher the likelihood that some of its battle-hardened militants will make their way to the North Caucasus.”

“In that case, the terrorism risks in Russia will increase because even if the returnees are few in number, they’ll possess considerable combat experience gained in Syria and Iraq,” added Melikisvhili.

That increased experience and military prowess was illustrated on Tuesday, when ISIS fighters downed a Syrian fighter jet likely provided by Putin for the first time.

Russia took part in the 30 countries joining a US-backed delegation against ISIS in Paris on Monday, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “we have got a contribution to make to the joint efforts in the specific area of ensuring security in Iraq through consolidating society and mobilizing it in a fight with terrorism and extremism.”

In contrast to its stance on Iraq, Russia has stringently opposed any airstrikes against ISIS in Syria without the approval of its ally Assad.

Analyst Melikishvili summarized the posture by saying “the precariousness of the Russian position is reflected by Moscow’s desire to minimize the ISIS threat without undermining Assad’s regime in Syria.”

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