Nationalist movements and transnational jihad: fractionalization of the Chechen separatist movement
Abbott, Laura A.
Robinson, Glenn E.
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By focusing on the case of Chechnya, this thesis analyzes how transnational jihadists gain influence in nationalist movements. Chechens united to support the separatist cause during the 1994 Russian invasion of Chechnya. However, after the first Russo-Chechen War, the new Chechen president was unable to unite the Chechen elites, and rebel field commanders sought patronage elsewhere, particularly with groups connected to transnational jihadist networks. This thesis argues that the fractionalization of the Chechen separatist movement allowed transnational jihadists to gain influence in local politics and finds that strong, centralized political parties or leaders can curb jihadist influence, as seen in the case of Hamas in Palestine. In a broader view, this research analyzes why transnational jihadists are able to co-opt various local struggles in the Muslim world, which we see in places such as Syria and Iraq today. Identifying the conditions that allow transnational jihadists to co-opt a local conflict points to policy considerations for how to prevent the spread of global jihad in future conflict zones.
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