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The Boston Horrors and Wahhabism in Chechnya

5:50 PM, Apr 24, 2013 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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The armed conflicts of the 1990s were in fact neither the “first” nor the “second” Chechen wars. A historian of Caucasian Muslim resistance to the Russians in the 19th century, Moshe Gammer, notes that with the full annexation of the Caucasian territories the tsarist regime began to persecute the local Sufis. The Caucasian Muslims fought back, and Leo Tolstoy wrote sympathetically of them in his last, posthumously-published novel, Hadji Murat. In 1944 came the most traumatic event in Chechen history: their mass deportation to Central Asia by the Stalin regime. Other Caucasian Muslim ethnic groups—notably the Ingush people, who live west of the Chechens and speak a related language—were similarly expelled from their homelands. At least 40 percent of Chechens died on the road of exile, and as many as 60 percent of Ingushes. They were accused falsely of collaboration with the German army, which never reached Chechnya or Ingushetia—even as Chechens, Ingushes, and other Caucasian Muslims fought in Soviet military ranks.

Chechens reported to Sufis in the West, late in the 1990s, that Wahhabis had entered the republic and were destroying cemeteries. As elsewhere in Muslim societies, the Sufis were the first victims of the fanatics—but not the last. And as seen in Boston, the embrace of Wahhabism leads to terrorist attacks against non-Muslims as well.

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