After bin Laden’s Death, al-Qaeda Turns to the North Caucasus

Ariel Cohen /

After Osama bin Laden’s death, it is clear that the war on terrorism is not over.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former al-Qaeda’s number two, may take over as bin Laden’s heir, unless the interim operations leader Saif al-Adel, the former Egyptian commando with Iranian ties, gets the job. In the meantime, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous of al-Qaeda affiliate terrorist organizations, has embarked upon expanding the global reach of its supporters. AQAP recently translated al-Qaeda’s online journal Inspire into Russian in an effort to attract the jihadis from the embattled North Caucasus and other Muslim-populated parts of Russia.

North Caucasus terrorists have been using radical Salafi Islam to recruit disgruntled youth who grew up on the battlefields of the two Chechen wars (1994–1996 and 1999–2004). One of the first to do that, Shamil Basayev, was the mastermind of the Dubrovka and Beslan hostage takings. His successor, Doku Umarov, managed to strengthen the ties with local Islamic communities and claimed the establishment of the “Caucasus Emirate,” a pan-Caucasus terrorist group fighting “jihad against the infidels” and for an Islamic emirate consisting of all the North Caucasus. (more…)