Russia’s North Caucasus rebels have denied any link to the Boston Marathon bombing which killed three and injured over 160 people last Monday. Thus far no direct link between the Chechen rebels and the Tsarnaev brother’s has been found. The Caucasus fighters issued the following statement on their website:
"The command of the Vilayat Dagestan mujahedeen... declares that the Caucasus fighters are not waging any military activities against the United States of America. We are only fighting Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for monstrous crimes against Muslims."
The statement follows reports that the FBI was investigating a possible connection between the Caucasus fighters and the two brother’s responsible for carrying out Monday’s attack. The conflict in Chechnya first began in 1994 as a separatist war. During that time over 100,000 people were killed in the 20-month war. Chechnya is ruled by Kremlin-backed, Ramzan Kadyrov who took power in 2007. Kadyrov is said to be responsible for widespread torture and murders.
During the second Chechen war—which broke out in 1999—it is believed that around 25,000 to 50,000 people were killed during the fighting. The brutal crackdown by Moscow saw the death of thousands of civilians, despite Russian claims that their bombs killed no civillians. The war attracted Muslim fighters from outside of the Caucasus region. Russian forces suppressed the Chechens, but Islamic fundamentalism became even more entrenched in the region. The Chechens blame the Russian forces—still present in the region—for human rights atrocities, corruption and rampant criminal activity.
Map of region:
Chechen rebels have been responsible for a series of terror attacks, including the 2002 raid of a Moscow theatre which killed 129 people and a 2004 hostage-taking in a school in Beslan which killed more than 330 people. In 2009, a bomb blast derailed a Moscow/St Petersburg Nevsky Express train which killed 26 and injured 100.
President Vladimir Putin placed renewed interest on stamping down rebel groups ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Speaking to his military commanders he said, “It’s a matter of honor for the security services and special forces to do everything for these events to happen in a normal, celebratory atmosphere so that nothing darkens these events.” The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee is responsible for employing increasingly aggressive tactics against perceived terrorist targets. In October of 2012 Russian forces killed 49 rebels in the North Caucasus region.