[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
ISLAMIST EXTREMISM IN CHECHNYA:
A THREAT TO THE U.S. HOMELAND?
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE, EURASIA, AND EMERGING THREATS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION, AND TRADE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 26, 2013
Serial No. 113-24
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TED POE, Texas GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MATT SALMON, Arizona THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina KAREN BASS, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
MO BROOKS, Alabama DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM COTTON, Arkansas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
PAUL COOK, California JUAN VARGAS, California
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania Massachusetts
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
TREY RADEL, Florida GRACE MENG, New York
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
TED S. YOHO, Florida JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
LUKE MESSER, Indiana
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats
DANA ROHRABACHER, California, Chairman
TED POE, Texas WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
PAUL COOK, California BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade
TED POE, Texas, Chairman
JOE WILSON, South Carolina BRAD SHERMAN, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
MO BROOKS, Alabama JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TOM COTTON, Arkansas JUAN VARGAS, California
PAUL COOK, California BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
TED S. YOHO, Florida Massachusetts
C O N T E N T S
Mr. Paul Goble, professor, Institute of World Politics........... 6
Craig Douglas Albert, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of
Political Science, Georgia Regents University Augusta.......... 9
Andranik Migranyan, Ph.D., director, Institute for Democracy and
Sabine Freizer, Ph.D., director, Europe Program International
Crisis Group................................................... 24
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Craig Douglas Albert, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................. 11
Andranik Migranyan, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................... 20
Sabine Freizer, Ph.D.: Prepared statement........................ 26
Hearing notice................................................... 42
Hearing minutes.................................................. 43
Sabine Freizer, Ph.D.: Material submitted for the record......... 44
Question submitted for the record by the Honorable Paul Cook, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California, and
responses from Andranik Migranyan, Ph.D., and Sabine Freizer,
ISLAMIST EXTREMISM IN CHECHNYA: A THREAT TO THE U.S. HOMELAND?
FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2013
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats and
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:34 a.m., in
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Dana Rohrabacher
(chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging
Mr. Rohrabacher. I call to order this joint hearing of the
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging
Threats, as well as Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Nonproliferation, and Trade. Today's topic is Islamic Extremism
in Chechnya: A Threat to the U.S. Homeland? After Chairman Poe
and I and the ranking members of two subcommittees, each of us
will have 5 minutes to make opening statements. Each member
then will have 1 minute to make an opening statement,
alternating between majority and minority members. And without
objection, all members may have 5 days to submit statements,
questions, and extraneous material for the record. Hearing no
objection, so ordered. The origins of the terrorist attack in
Boston have drawn attention to a region that has not received
the study that it deserves. The terrorist brothers had roots in
Chechnya, even though they grew up in America, and had sought
U.S. citizenship. Chechnya is part of the Northern Caucasus,
which also includes Dagestan, where the father of the two
Two major wars have been fought in Chechnya in the 1990s,
as the province sought independence from Russia. Many Chechens
fled to other parts of the region, and into Central Asia.
Dagestan was not directly involved in the wars, but has
certainly been affected by them, and is now a hotbed of radical
Islamic activity. There are reports of Chechens fighting in
Afghanistan against the United States and NATO troops, and
Chechen networks in Europe. Al-Qaeda has made recruitment of
Chechens a priority, and they are thought to have been trained
The appearance of Chechen fighters outside the Northern
Caucasus is ominous. The original Chechen uprising against
Russia was secular and nationalist. Within this context, there
would be no motive for Chechen exiles to attack the United
States, especially after we had given them sanctuary. In the
world view of some Chechens, there has been--obviously, some
Chechens have had their world view radicalized, as was the case
of the two Boston terrorists, who have turned from young people
being raised here into a jihadist mentality of global war
against infidels, which includes us.
Is this happening on a regional basis, this radicalization
that we saw with these two young men? And why is it happening?
What outside forces have sought to transform the Northern
Caucasus and Central Asia into a region of Muslim extremism
which did not exist before? In particular, what impact is Saudi
Arabia playing and other Islamic states played in sending money
and missionaries to the region to build mosques and schools to
impact the minds of young people who make up such a large
portion of the population in Central Asia? Greater cooperation
with Russia and the governments of Central Asia should be
explored in order to properly understand and respond to this
emerging threat. This part of the world is critical to the
future of the human race.
If it becomes dominated by a radical version of Islam, it
will change the course of history in an extremely negative way.
Muslims deserve freedom and progress, but the jihadist mind-set
hates freedom, and will drown progress in a sea of blood. Even
as a minority viewpoint, the radicals have done great damage
throughout the Muslim societies, from Pakistan to Afghanistan
through the Caucasus. And they have attacked the United States
as well as Russia.
Pardon me, I have a cold today, obviously. We must find
ways to expand our long friendship with Muslims in order to
build a better future. That future should be of peace and
prosperity for all people, especially the people of Central
Asia, because all of us deserve to live in such a positive
world. We want to find positive ways of moving forward with
these people, and thus we have gathered a panel of experts to
give us their advice today. And now the ranking member, Mr.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today we are
examining a region of the world that up until a week ago most
people did not know a great deal about. But the Boston Marathon
bombings in my home State changed that. I would like to take a
moment to acknowledge the victims and their families that were
forever changed by this senseless act, and thank those in
Boston who worked around the clock to save lives and prevent
other tragedies from occurring that week. For many, their view
of the world has become much smaller as the scope of this
investigation grows. Whether there is any connectivity, what
happened and began in Boston and Watertown, Massachusetts, has
now extended into the North Caucasus. And this committee has a
responsibility to gather information about possible threats at
home, and improve our counterterrorism cooperation with other
nations. Although I wish that a discussion of the North
Caucasus could have taken place under different circumstances,
this is a discussion worth having, as it highlights why many so
of us, particularly on this committee, have concerned ourselves
with security, rule of law, and human rights issues abroad.
According to the 2012 report from the International Crisis
Group, armed conflict in the North Caucasus is the most violent
in Europe today. Insurgents seeking a regional political unit
founded in sharia attacked Russian officials and security
forces whose main responsibility until recently has been a
tough focus on eradicating the insurgency with a massive
security presence. While this policy has had successes, some
574 insurgents, security forces, and civilians have died
through September 2012 in Russia, and there are almost daily
attacks in the region, and occasionally as far afield as
It is important to understand that the description of
terrorism within Russia and some of the contributing factors,
as like the April 15 attack, applies back here at home as well.
Simply put, what began as an epic struggle in a faraway land
decades ago has fueled into an insurgency, an insurgency that
presents a threat to our homeland. Our world is more
interconnected than ever. And while we see great strides in
bringing together international business groups and
communication networks, we have yet to see at the same time the
cooperation in international security matters and information
There is undoubtedly a delicate balance between cooperation
with Russia on counterterrorism and concern over Russia's human
rights abuses, but in no way should this hinder working
together to protect the lives of innocent people. At the end of
the day, that is all we want. As the investigation of the
Boston Marathon incident continues, I hope that this hearing
will be insightful as we move to strengthen our international
information sharing and security mechanisms. I look forward to
hearing from our panel of witnesses, and am particularly
excited to have Dr. Freizer, the Europe director of the
International Crisis Group, here with us, who happened to be
visiting here. So I want to thank you all for being here, and I
look forward to your testimony. With that, Mr. Chairman, I
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much for that very
thoughtful opening statement. And the people who were hurt and
killed up in Boston, they are all part of our American family.
Just like everyone who died in 9/11, we are all part of this
American family. We grieve with you, and we are committed to
make sure that these things don't happen to other members of
the American family.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. And now I recognize Mr. Poe, who is
chairman of a subcommittee of his own which focuses on such
threats of terrorism, as well as nonproliferation and trade.
Mr. Poe. First, I do want to express my sympathies to the
victims of the Boston Marathon, but also praise the first
responders and the citizens of Boston on Patriot's Day for
their united effort to capture these bad guys. There is still
much that we don't know about the Tsarnaev brothers, but I am
confident that we will get to the bottom of this as the
Yesterday, we learned that the perpetrators had planned to
travel to Times Square in New York after the Boston attack to
unleash more mayhem and bombs. They apparently had pipe bombs
and another pressure cooker bomb. American people want answers,
and so do I. I do want to thank the witnesses for being here.
It is unfortunate that no one from the Federal Government is
here, even though they were invited to send at least one
person. A lot of questions revolve around the older brother's
trip to Russia. The Russians were so worried about him they
asked us to look into him. Less than 3 months before he left
for Russia in January 2012, the CIA successfully pushed to have
him put on the U.S. counterterrorism watchlist called TIDE. But
for some unknown reason, between the time he left for Russia
and came back his name was not a concern of the U.S.
Government, so U.S. authorities did not flag him. That meant
U.S. Customs did not stop and question him, nor did they let
the FBI know he was back so the FBI could talk to him. I am not
sure, and I don't know why U.S. authorities would decide the
older brother was not a concern while in a foreign country,
under really suspicious circumstances, where known terrorist
groups operate. Even the Russians were worried about this.
It looks like we may have the same old problem of
information sharing, or lack of it. In fact, The Washington
Post reports this morning that a single U.S. Customs and Border
Protection official assigned to the Boston Joint Terrorism Task
Force received a warning that the older brother, a suspected
militant, had returned from a lengthy trip to Russia. Officials
said there is no indication the unidentified Customs official
provided that information to anybody or any other members of
the task force, including the FBI, who had previously
interviewed the militant.
So 10 years later after 9/11 we should not be struggling
with this same issue of information sharing among American
agencies, and also communication with foreign governments who
are concerned about terrorism as well. We don't know if the
attackers had ties directly to al-Qaeda or affiliates, but the
evidence so far suggests a link to al-Qaeda's Inspire Magazine
produced by al-Qaeda's group in Yemen. The magazine provides a
step-by-step instruction for anyone wanting to build a device
like the ones detonated in Boston. The older brother traveled
to Russia, then went to Dagestan for 6 months between 2011 and
2012. He might have been radicalized there. We are not yet
certain if that is true or by whom.
Both brothers were Chechens, and it now seems clear the
older brother was the ringleader. Chechnya knows conflict and
controversy. They have been dealing with it for the last 20
years. We can be sure there is no shortage of bad guys in
places like Dagestan just waiting to get their hands on young
wannabe jihadists. Bin Laden encouraged Saudis to go to
Chechnya to fight Russia. Yet another outlet for extremists is
against the United States and coalition forces on the
battlefields of Afghanistan. Elsewhere, if a Chechen jihadist
cannot attack a Russian target, then a soft target in his own
city in America or Europe is the next best option. In fact, al-
Qaeda has been encouraging those types of attacks for years,
according to terrorism expert Bruce Riedel from the Brookings
Institute. Al-Qaeda says Islam is under attack from every
direction, and the jihadist answer is to strike back in New
York, Madrid, London, Toulouse, and possibly Boston now. In
fact, just days after the Boston attack, authorities in Canada
arrested two men for allegedly plotting to blow up a train.
Initial reports suggest al-Qaeda elements in Iran had provided
the two men with direction, guidance, and information. Al-Qaeda
and its affiliates' call to global jihad is alive and well and
lives in jihadist forums, social media outlets, and the like.
So we have many questions that we need answers from. The
threat from terrorist attacks around the world did not die with
bin Laden. We must be realistic and understand that, and find
out specifically what is taking place in Chechnya, and how that
affects the United States. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much for that very
thoughtful and forceful opening statement. Does anyone else
have a desire for an opening statement? If not, let me note
that we did try to get a State Department representative here
with us today. We wanted them to send a witness to tell us what
they thought was going on in Central Asia, and Chechnya, and
the Caucasus region. But they declined. And they are too busy
to send someone here to the United States Congress and to speak
with the American people through public hearings like this.
They are just too busy on other matters.
That may well be part of the problem in that this region
has not gotten the attention that it deserves. There is a map
of the region over there. But let us just note that Central
Asia, as we are describing, and the Caucasus, represent a huge
chunk of the planet. And if that area comes under the
domination of radical Islam that makes it its job to attack the
United States, or to attack other countries, not just the
United States, but other non-Muslim people, that will be a
disaster for every person on this planet. That will usher us
into an era of violence and mayhem that will be hard to get out
So we need to pay attention to the Caucasus, and we need to
work with those people who will work with us to see that that
does not happen. And I don't believe that we have, number one,
paid attention here until it stung us, as it did in Boston, and
as it did on 9/11. And we also have not been cooperating and
working as hard as we can with those other countries, and I
would put my finger on Russia, where we could have well worked
a lot closer with Russia than we have been. And as the judge
pointed out, and as the ranking member pointed out, we can do
so without giving up our commitment to human rights, and not
complain if the Russians are doing something wrong. They can
accept some criticism, as we can when we do things that are
wrong. But that should not prevent us from joining forces
against radical Islam, which threatens to kill our children in
order to terrorize the world.
If they take over and dominate an area the size of Central
Asia, everybody in the world is in for trouble. With that said,
we have got some very fine witnesses. Paul Goble is a professor
at the Institute of World Politics. He was director of research
and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier,
he served as vice dean of the social sciences and humanities at
Audentes University in Estonia, and a senior research associate
at the EuroCollege at the University of Tartu, which is also in
He served in various capacities in the United States State
Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Voice of
America, and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, and at the
Carnegie Endowment for Peace.
Next we have Andranik Migranyan. I hope I pronounced that
correctly. And let me just note that I took this upon myself to
reach out to the Russian Embassy and to our Russian
counterparts and see if they could maybe recommend someone who
could come here and discuss this very important issue and how
it is important to both of us. We appreciate you being with us
today. And I am sorry that the Russian Embassy can send people
but the State Department can't.
He is a director of the New York City branch of the
Institute for Democracy and Cooperation. He was a member of the
Presidential Council of the Russian Federation between 1993 and
2000, vice president of the Reforma Foundation. And among his
many publications are the books Russia: From Chaos to Order, a
Russian Search for Identity; and Democracy and Morality. He was
awarded with the Russian Medal of Honor by a presidential
decree in 2009.
We also have with us Dr. Craig Douglas Albert. He is a
professor of political science at Georgia Regents University in
Augusta, where he specializes in the study of ethnic group
identity. His research has concentrated on the Chechens and the
Kurds--that is very interesting--and recently working on papers
entitled Things Fall Apart: A Political Opportunity Model for
the Chechen Resistance. He holds an MA and a Ph.D. from the
University of Connecticut.
And finally we have Dr. Sabine Freizer--is it Freizer or
Ms. Freizer. Freizer.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Freizer. Who joined the International
Crisis Group in 2004. She currently serves as the Istanbul-
based director of the European Program. In this role, Sabine
oversees projects covering the Caucasus, both North and South,
Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey, and Cyprus. Before joining the
Crisis Group, she served as political officer in the OSCE
Election Observation Missions in Azerbaijan and Georgia from
2003 to 2004. She has a Ph.D. from the London School of
Economics and a master's from the College of Europe in Belgium,
which she obtained as a Fulbright scholar.
So we welcome our witnesses today, and we would ask if you
could try to keep your testimony to 5 minutes. And anything can
be submitted for the record. But then we will come back and ask
questions once everyone has testified. If there is a vote, it
is the intention of this chair to recess, if we have not had
our time to ask the questions, and then come back immediately
after the last vote. And I understand there is only going to be
two or three votes, so it should not be more than 20 minutes or
\1/2\ hour. So we will start with Mr. Goble.
STATEMENT OF MR. PAUL GOBLE, PROFESSOR, INSTITUTE OF WORLD
Mr. Goble. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for inviting
me, and thank you for holding a hearing on such an important
topic. Allow me to begin by associating myself with what you
and other members of the committee have said about our common
horror at what happened in Boston and about the enormous
respect we have for the people of Boston and the way they
responded. It was quite impressive. I must say that I also want
to associate myself with the chairman's remarks about the
Department of State's representation. As late as the summer of
1989, I was the only person employed in the U.S. Government
working on the non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union. That
was quite amazing given everything that was happening. And it
was certainly my hope that after the Soviet Union came apart,
the number of people who would be working in those areas and
have expertise on it would grow, and we would all benefit from
It is probably inevitable whenever something that we know
little about, a place or a people, comes into our
consciousness, that we jump rather quickly to
oversimplifications based on our knowledge from elsewhere. That
is certainly what has happened in the response to the horror in
Boston. We have had people use terminology which has been
imported without much thought about what it means. And I think
it is terribly important to unpack some of this oversimplistic
language and to understand what is really going on lest we be
in a position to fight it, and also even more, and more
immediately anyway, lest we be manipulated in a way that is
against American national interests.
In my remarks I would like to focus on three elements of
this oversimplification. The first has to do with Islam, the
second has to do with ethnicity, specifically, in the North
Caucasus, and third has the do with the experience of
emigration among peoples of the North Caucasus, not only in
this country, but in western Europe.
Islam in the North Caucasus is among the most varied
phenomenon in the world. It came in three different ways
beginning in the 8th century in Dagestan, and not until the
18th century in Chechnya. Dagestan is a vastly more Islamic
place. I am much more worried about the 6 months in Dagestan
than I am the Chechen background. It is also very differently
in how tightly it is held by people there, and how much it
motivates actions. Many of the people who are called Muslims,
or call themselves Muslims in this part of the world know
nothing about their faith. They are what the Soviet calls
ethnic Muslims. They know they are Muslims, they don't know
what it means.
President Dzhokhar Dudayev of Chechnya once told me that he
was a good Muslim, he prayed three times a day. As a good
Muslim would know that you pray five times a day, but he had
been a member of the Communist Party since the age of 18, and
major general in the Soviet Air Force, so he did not know.
Unfortunately, we use the term Muslim without always an
appreciation of the fact that what happened has happened in the
North Caucasus, and even more in Central Asia, since 1991
reflects the experiences of a community that had an identity
but had no content for that identity. And suddenly there were
people available to provide that content. Prior to 1991, very
few of these people could have told you the difference between
one sura of the Koran or another. The Koran was published only
twice in Soviet times for people there. So they didn't know
I believe that the opening of the southern border of what
had been the USSR may prove ultimately more fateful for the
United States than the opening of the western border to Europe.
First, and I want to give you four statistics, pairs of
statistics. In 1991 in the Russian Federation there were 150
mosques. Today there are 8,800. In 1991, there were 40 people
who went on the hajj, people who traveled to Mecca. This past
year, there were 40,000, a factor of 1,000 increase. The number
of missionaries coming in from the Middle East, Turkey, and
Saudi, and the Turks are quite heavily involved, went from zero
in 1991 to a high of about 2,500 in the late 1990s, and it is
now somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500. And the number of
Muslims studying abroad in madrasas and Islamic universities
went from four in 1991, at least three of whom were working for
the KGB, and now to a figure of probably about 1,200, again,
down from the numbers of 2,000-plus at the end of the 1990s.
Those numbers are even more dramatic in Central Asia. I
hope we can come back to that, but I think that is important.
Second, with respect to ethnicity. Ethnicity was constructed.
These people have various experiences with what it means. Most
of the Chechens were, in fact, committed ethno-nationalists.
The idea that they are Islamist nationalists is simply untrue.
There are some who are, but overwhelmingly, it is not the case.
If you look at Central Asia, you will see that that is also
true. And the experience of emigration means that people are in
extremis because they are up against very difficult situations.
And one thing that has not been focused on in the discussion of
Boston is that many Chechens feel they are about to be returned
to the Russian Federation or to Chechnya because of what has
been happening, thanks to Russian pressure in Austria, Germany,
Belgium, and elsewhere in Western Europe. People who fear they
have no good options may do really bad things.
Three quick conclusions: First, I think we are learning
that if we are going to compete in this kind of ideological
contest, and it is an ideological contest, police power must be
used, but it will never be sufficient to solve the problem.
Second, we need to recognize that many of the problems we face
now, both with regard to Islam in North Caucasus and Central
Asia, and with regard no ethnicity in North Caucasus and in
Central Asia, are a reflection of the actions of Moscow both
before 1991 and after that time. We have to cooperate with the
Russians in certain respects, but we have to recognize that
they are part of the problem, too. And that has to be insisted
And third, we need to understand that some of the things
that are coming out in the coverage of the two terrorists shows
that there are some optimistic reasons for looking at Islam,
that more and more Muslims are learning the details of their
faith. Forty years ago, when I started studying it, you
couldn't get a translation of the Koran in English that didn't
say an interpretation. Now there are discussions of what is
canonical, what translations are canonical. We know what
happened when the Bible was translated into German and English
in the 15th century. It led to the Reformation, the
Renaissance, and modernity. It is entirely possible that we
will see the same kind of thing happen in the world of Islam,
and we will see the same kind of troubles over the next three
or four generations that the people of Western Europe
understood. Thank you very much.
Mr. Rohrabacher. That last point you made is very
interesting. I never thought of that before. And thank you.
[Mr. Goble did not submit a prepared statement.]
Mr. Rohrabacher. Dr. Albert.
STATEMENT OF CRAIG DOUGLAS ALBERT, PH.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR,
DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, GEORGIA REGENTS UNIVERSITY
Mr. Albert. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the
committee, fellow panelists, for having me here today. I
appreciate the opportunity to speak about Islamic extremism in
Chechnya. I would also like to remark my comments are directed
mostly at the Islamic extremists inside Chechnya and Dagestan,
and don't reflect the general population of Chechnya as well,
that is more an ethno-nationalist approach, as Professor Goble
said. So this pertains directly to the Islamist threat inside
the area. There are some Islamist elements inside Chechnya and
the surrounding Caucasus regions, although their connection to
any larger global jihadist network is a question for debate. It
is this author's opinion that although there is an Islamist
presence in the Chechen region, it possesses little strategic
threat to the United States, although it may pose a modest
threat to the United States' forces worldwide.
The largest contemporary Islamist threat in Chechnya and
Dagestan is the Caucasus Emirate founded in 2007. The CE is
currently led by Doku Umarov, and was officially created to
replace the failing separatist government of the region, the
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. While the former wanted an
independent Chechnya, the CE wants to create an Islamic
caliphate that extends beyond the Caucasus region. In fact, it
appears the CE has embarked upon a philosophically grand vision
of territorial expansion in the past couple of years. The CE
has some reported connections to al-Qaeda, including third-
party financing, mainly based in Saudi Arabia. Although there
are arguments whether there are larger connections between the
CE and al-Qaeda, there appears to be evidence that the two are
connected, if only in a minor way. It is well documented that
al-Qaeda is currently more of a leaderless organization, and
thus has resulted to organizing and coordinating its efforts
and networks via the Internet, which is probably the
relationship it has with Chechen jihadists.
Therefore, it is more difficult to establish a clear
connection between the two, but there is a connection, however
small it may be. Although there are some historical links with
Chechnya and al-Qaeda, there is no convincing evidence that
Doku Umarov is a member of al-Qaeda, but he certainly
sympathizes with its larger causes. This can perhaps be
demonstrated by the Caucasus Emirate Web sites that post links
to al-Qaeda documents and al-Qaeda affiliates, including links
to the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire, which may have helped the
Boston bombers develop and deploy their bombs.
It must also be mentioned that the tactics and bombs used
in Boston resemble the attacks carried out in Chechnya,
including delayed multiple explosions, although the bombs are
made slightly differently. The greater jihadist threat in the
Caucasus Mountains is not a nationalistic Chechen movement, and
doesn't involve most of the Chechens--probably less than 1
percent of the population at all sympathize with this type of
movement--but it is a larger network of jihadists connected and
networked to the global jihad. It is also more of a Caucasian
threat than a Chechen threat, emanating mostly from individuals
It is important to emphasize that an attack on the United
States' mainland from the Caucasus Emirate or other Chechen/
Caucasian groups is highly unlikely. The Chechens are generally
not preoccupied with the United States. However, one has to
consider if the Chechens do become more involved with the
larger global jihadi network, whether they may consider
attacking the U.S. homeland. With that considered, one would
still conclude that an attack in the U.S. is highly unlikely by
these individuals. In fact, CE commanders have recently stated
that the larger confederated network had nothing to do with the
planning, coordinating, or financing of the attacks in Boston.
Doku Umarov has also recently ordered his units and all
jihadist elements inside the Caucasus not to attack civilians
at all, anywhere. And he has emphasized that his organization
has no conflict with the United States.
The CE and nationalist groups inside Chechnya direct most
of their concerns toward combating the Russian Federation.
Especially with the 2014 Winter Olympics approaching, it can be
hypothesized that their efforts are being solely directed at
targeting those sporting events or planning other attacks
inside and around Russia, especially inside Dagestan. It is
likely, however, that U.S. military, security, and perhaps
government forces that are combating jihadist elements
worldwide will face a continued threat from individuals from
the Chechen area. The U.S. has already faced these foes from
the Caucasus in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and we can also
safely predict that where there is a jihadist foothold or where
there is a chance of gaining ground for Islamist forces, some
Chechens will be found there, as is recently reported in the
Syrian civil war.
Unless some more details are made available about the
Boston bombers' possible training in the Caucasus, however, and
Dagestan, I think it is highly unlikely that there is any
reasonable strategic threat planned against the United States
by the Chechens. Thank you very much.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much. We will have some
questions for you later.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Albert follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Rohrabacher. And sir, and again, Mr. Migranyan.
STATEMENT OF ANDRANIK MIGRANYAN, PH.D., DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR
DEMOCRACY AND COOPERATION
Mr. Migranyan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. But you have to punch your button there.
Thank you for joining us today. And we really appreciate
hearing from a point of view that we wouldn't hear otherwise.
And I think we should. So you may proceed.
Mr. Migranyan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a privilege
for me to be here and to share some views concerning Russia's
perception concerning all these events which happened in
Boston. First of all, I would like to emphasize that these
attacks in Boston have provoked feelings of solidarity with the
American people, and especially with the citizens of Boston
among the Russian people and the Russian leadership. And this
is the second time when President Putin, after 9/11, expressed
his readiness immediately to cooperate with American
authorities in order to find out what happened and how we can
eradicate the reasons and causes which brought these tragedies.
But what is in Russia, you know, in Russia there was, of
course, a kind of, you know, uneasiness during these previous
two decades when Russia was fighting against Chechen
terrorists, and Russia didn't get enough understanding,
empathy, and support from its western partners. And this is
something which really is in the public opinion, and in the
mood of politicians. And by the way, yesterday Putin, in his
direct line with the people, for 5 hours he was talking to the
people, he talked a lot about this event in Boston and
And he said that Russia was the victim of international
terrorism in Russia from Middle Eastern countries, from other
places, Muslim radicals and terrorists were coming and
supporting Chechen terrorists, and unfortunately, our western
partners were very, you know, reserved in order to express
And this is, I think, one of the reasons is that even now
when you look at the coverage of the events in Boston, a lot of
people are talking about Stalin's deportations, about
psychological problems concerning these people who grew up, and
about these injustices which Russian authorities executed
against the people indirectly trying to justify some motives.
But you know, I think America now is faced with this home-grown
terrorism, I think it is becoming more and more aware that
without--you know, no motives can justify the terrorism and
mass killings of innocent civilians independently, because no
retaliation can be justified if some governments are acting in
some places like the Tsarnaev brothers were talking about
America's war in Iraq or Afghanistan, and maybe that is the
reason why they acted this way.
And another important problem is that, of course, Russia
wanted to get back and have extradited some leaders of Chechen
terrorists from the UK and from the United States. For example,
Akhmed Zakayev was in United Kingdom, and now still is there.
He is self-proclaimed prime minister of Chechen Republic of
Ichkeria. Or Ilyas Akhmadov, by the way, who is the former
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, by
the way he got asylum in Boston when he left Russia. And
unfortunately, neither American nor British sides, you know,
cooperated with Russia in order to extradite those terrorists
who are considered in Russia as terrorists. But the problem is
that, I would like to say, that Chechen terrorists cross the
border of Russia, and now we have information in the Russian
Secret Services and Russian media that Chechens are fighting in
Afghanistan, and they are fighting against Americans. They are
fighting against NATO.
You mentioned that they are members of some groups in
Europe. They are now fighting in Syria. And American
politicians and the American media are supportive of some
groups of these rebels who are fighting against a legitimate
government in that country, which means that we heard that some
fighters over there, they are putting the signs that we are
fighting today here, and if we win, then we are going to fight
in Russia, returning back to Russia. But summing up what I
said, in Russia, the general mood is that we have to understand
that we Russians have a common interest and overlapping
interests with the United States. And we have disagreements,
and after Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib not everyone in Russia
believes that the American Secret Services consist of knights
on white horses. But our imperfections should not prevent us
from realizing that we are facing a common enemy, and to
cooperate against it is both common sense and inherently moral.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much for that testimony.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Migranyan follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Rohrabacher. And we recognize the frustration of
someone who sees acts of terrorism being committed against his
own people that are very clear, and not the outrage and
attitude here that we would expect, that he would expect from a
decent people such as the people of the United States. We will
go into that in the question and answer section. Mr. Royce? We
are very pleased to have the chairman of the full committee, Ed
Royce. Ed, would you like to make a statement?
Mr. Royce. You know, I appreciate that opportunity, Mr.
Chairman, but I think I will defer and allow the witnesses each
to testify. And then if I might, I might ask a question. Thank
you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. We will put you up front. And finally, Dr.
STATEMENT OF SABINE FREIZER, PH.D., DIRECTOR, EUROPE PROGRAM
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP
Ms. Freizer. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and ranking
members, for the opportunity to present today. I want to
commend the subcommittee for focusing their attention on the
North Caucasus during such a critical time. A few words about
Crisis Group. Crisis Group is an independent, nonpartisan,
nongovernmental organization that provides field-based
analysis, policy advice, and recommendations to governments,
the United Nations, the European Union, and other multilateral
organizations on the prevention and resolution of deadly
conflict. Ambassador Thomas Pickering is our current chairman,
and Louise Arbour, former chief prosecutor at the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and
also the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is our
Crisis Group began a North Caucasus project in 2012, and
has written two background reports that were published in
October. The first report is called ``The North Caucasus: The
Challenges of Integration, Ethnicity and Conflict.'' And the
second report is called ``The North Caucasus: The Challenges of
Integration, Islam, the Insurgency, and Counterinsurgency.'' I
would respectfully ask that these reports be incorporated into
the committee record.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Without objection.i
Ms. Freizer. Thank you. A third report, which will come out
early this summer, will look at the institutional causes of
conflict in the North Caucasus. And that report will also have
a series of recommendations on how to deal with the violence in
the North Caucasus. I should say that our staff travels
frequently to the North Caucasus, throughout the region,
talking to a very large of different interlocutors. I
understand that these hearings take place in the aftermath of
the Boston bombings, and I would like to also express the
condolences of International Crisis Group, of all our staff
working around the world, for these events.
There are two primary causes for conflict in the North
Caucasus. It is ethnic conflict and the Islamic insurgency. Let
me discuss a little bit by talking about the ethnic conflict.
During the early 1990s, separatists sought full independence
for Chechnya, but the failure of their state-building project
and their expanded use of armed force, including of terrorism,
brought a massive, and at times, indiscriminate Russian
response during two wars in Chechnya. Since 2003, the situation
in Chechnya has largely stabilized, with a process of
Chechenisation by the Russian Government, which means handing
over most economic and political power to local Chechen
authorities. But having said that, several interethnic
conflicts continue to exist in the region. Sometimes these do
lead to violence. Very often they are about land and they are
about control of power, local power and economic resources. But
we also see some conflicts between some of the republics, for
example, between Chechnya and Ingushetia, between Ingushetia
and North Ossetia. So you still see tensions at the local level
which are primarily ethnic-based.
The other main source of conflict, which is the one that I
think is the main issue of today, is the insurgency. Now, what
we should say is that the insurgency feeds off the ethnic
conflicts. So a lot of young people who in the past 20 years
ago might have joined ethnic movements or nationalist movements
now choose instead to join the insurgency. The main
organization that is mobilizing the insurgency is the Caucasus
Emirates, the Imarat Kavkaz, which was proclaimed in 2007 as a
final step of the transformation of the Chechen separatist
movement into a regional-wide Islamist project. It is
recognized as a terrorist organization by Russia and by the
United States and by many others. It operates across the North
Caucasus, attracting youth of all different types of
ethnicities. Predominantly, it attacks Federal forces and local
police, but also civil servants and religious leaders. It has a
unified force, a unified cause, a very strong structure with a
leadership. Predominantly it is local. Predominantly it is
local funded. And it has predominantly local aspirations.
Today, rarely a day goes by without an attack in Russia.
Some 750 people were killed in 2011, and almost the same number
were killed in 2012. So far this year, just in the Republic of
Dagestan, 67 people were killed. We will all remember, of
course, the bombing of the Domodedovo Airport in Moscow in
January 2011 that killed 37. The vast majority of attacks are
against security services, local officials, and traditional
clergy. In February 2012, the head of the Caucasus Emirates
said that he will no longer be targeting civilians. However, of
course, in attacks against officials and security services,
there are important civilian casualties.
The government's main response until now has been a very
tough focus on eradicating the insurgency with a massive
security presence. For example, just a few days ago, between
the 11th and 21st of April, there was a major security
operation in Dagestan in the village of Guimudih, which
resulted in the displacement of 5,000 people. But the Russian
Government has also began to open some room, and started
applying a longer term comprehensive approach to
counterterrorism. And I believe that it is this approach that
should be supported.
Finally, the North Caucasus integration into the rest of
Russia is essential for security and for healthy ethnic
relations in the country. The spread of violence from Chechnya
to neighboring republics, high losses among civilians,
military, and the insurgents, and deteriorating ethnic
relations countrywide indicate more effective and comprehensive
approaches are needed to deal with these very complex root
causes of the conflict. Thank you very much.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Freizer follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Mr. Rohrabacher. And we appreciate all of our witnesses
today. And I am going to recognize now the chairman of the full
committee for a statement or questions, whichever he chooses,
and what time he would like to consume.
Mr. Royce. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that. One
of the observations I would make is that in my conversations
with Duma members from southern Russia, two physicians that I
can think of, both Muslims from Dagestan, they shared with me
the way in which this Chechen al-Qaeda-linked organization was
going house to house in their state, which neighbors Chechnya,
and giving young men an option of either joining the movement,
the jihad, as they called it, or killing them.
And as they related to me, this was much more than just a
movement for Chechen independence, indeed it was much more
ambitious, because the idea was a caliphate for the whole
region, right? A caliphate--well, you see Chechens are now
fighting in Afghanistan; you see them carrying out
assassinations in Pakistan, certainly all over Central Asia.
And in terms of the violence in all of this, the al-Qaeda-
linked groups have developed really a methodology with the use
of suicide bombings that they have carried to quite an extent.
You have talked about the attack on the school, where you have
over 500 casualties or dead, most of them children. But this is
a fairly regular occurrence in southern Russia today. Even in
Moscow, when these Chechen al-Qaeda-linked fighters get into
the city, it is pretty horrific what they do on the subways or
in government buildings, the number of people killed.
The question going forward is with this commitment now to a
wider caliphate, and given that it encompasses such a large
geographical area, the attempt to convert moderate Muslims I
think is a major challenge. I talked to a village leader who
was Kyrgyz, and he told me about the situation in his village,
where 12 young men were receiving instruction in jihad, they
had agreed to go to a madrasa to get an education, but all 12
were decapitated. And he said this is not a local Kyrgyz custom
in Kyrgyzstan. This is the importation or the change of a
And gradually we are changing our culture to this al-Qaeda,
you know, psychology, and that it is a Gulf state culture, in
his mind. That is what he said. It is a Gulf state culture in
terms of decapitation. But with that and with the kinds of mass
killings that we are doing, we are changing culture.
I was going to ask you about that, because it is really a
struggle within these societies. And the two physicians that I
knew serving in the Duma felt they were losing that struggle.
Just your insights.
Mr. Migranyan. You know, thank you for raising this
question. I would like to say that Dr. Goble was absolutely
right. The situation is now much worse in Dagestan rather than
in Chechnya. The problem is that Dagestan is multiethnic. There
is serious strained relationships between different ethnics
groups. It is more prone to Wahhabism. And Wahhabism is coming
from Saudi Arabia. And the money is coming, the people are
coming from there. And the power is very weak. And this is the
problem which you, I think, can understand. You have a strong
man in Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, and no terrorist acts, or at
least almost no terrorist acts. And you have weak institutions
with power in Dagestan, and you have a lot of them every day
practically, and a lot of losses. Which means this is the
problem of security and democracy.
Mr. Royce. I think it might be a little more complicated
than that. Because we are looking at terrorist attacks not just
in these two states, but in many states across southern Russia,
and in Moscow as well. And with all the security in Moscow,
they are not able to protect the subways, they are not able to
protect--you had an observation.
Mr. Goble. I just want to say that what we are seeing----
Mr. Royce. Push your button.
Mr. Goble. Excuse me. What we are seeing is an effort to
recruit people who identify themselves as Muslims. But the
effort to recruit people who are committed Muslims, that is
people who really know about Islam, has failed, even in
Dagestan. That where the Saudi missionaries have been most
successful is in areas where people don't know very much about
Islam. They identify as Islam, but someone else is telling them
what it means. This is a huge problem, because if you see
people acquire more Islamic knowledge--there is a view here in
this country that as people learn more about a religion, they
will tend to become more fundamentalist. The fact is as people
learn more about a religion, they become more committed to
whatever the religion teaches, and they become protected
against efforts to change their direction.
In the case of the people of the North Caucasus and Central
Asia, and the something between 15 and 18 million Muslim
population elsewhere in the Russian Federation, what we have
are people who do not have that kind of training, and therefore
are more susceptible for recruitment. I think it is very
important to understand that, that there is a process of
immunization. I know many, many Muslims in Tatarstan in the
Middle Volga. Those who know a very great deal about Islam are
able to say absolutely no to the missionaries coming from Saudi
Arabia. The people who know much less about Islam are far more
likely to be recruited because they are waiting for someone to
tell them what it means.
Mr. Royce. Thank you, Mr. Goble. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Yes. And we now recognize Mr. Brad
Sherman, ranking member on the Terrorism Subcommittee, for his
Mr. Sherman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Those who have seen me on this committee have seen me use
my question time to pontificate. When I am just filled with so
many questions, I am going to lay some out now using my
pontification time to lay out some questions, and I will invite
the panel to respond later.
One relates to the history of the area where we are told
that Stalin deported the entire Chechen population, but this
raises the question how many people were deported, how many
returned, and who in the heck was living in Chechnya in the
meantime, and how were they persuaded to leave?
We see an over 200-year alliance between the bin Saud
family and Wahhabi Islam. And I think it may go beyond this
hearing, I mean, but this is both an alliance and very
dangerous to the Saudi royal family since most of those who
want to kill the leaders of Saudi Arabia are motivated by an
Islam that seems also indistinguishable, to me, to the Islam
that is being funded by and propagated by money that comes from
the gulf and either with the permission of or out of the
pockets of the Saudi royal family.
I am going to be asking what are the training facilities in
Chechnya and Dagestan? We all knew that al-Qaeda was operating
in Afghanistan, taking in people from all over the world,
training thousands of them. Is there anything even on a smaller
scale in Chechnya, Dagestan? We saw these brothers be,
unfortunately, effective in the bombing and incredibly
amateurish after the bombing, and so it would be interesting so
see whether they got any training beyond what they saw on the
Internet for the bombing. And we won't know that in these
hearings, but perhaps we will know whether there is a mini al-
Qaeda, which means the base--is there a training base for
extremist Islam in the Chechen region.
I am--I think I will save the rest of my questions for
question time and yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much.
And we will now proceed to our questions and dialogue. Let
me begin by saying that years ago--and just to relay the story,
years ago, I think it was in 2004, the Chechen terrorists took
over a school--is it Beslan, is that how you pronounce it--in
Russia, Chechnya--is that city part of Chechnya, or is it just
part of Russia? It is a Russian city, a Russia school. And the
terrorists there murdered--in the end 180 children lost their
And I remember calling the White House personally, and I
talked directly to Condoleezza Rice and told her, now is the
time that we can establish a close, and new, and positive
relationship with Russia and recruit them to work with us in
areas of mutual interest that we couldn't do before; now is the
time for us to stand with these folks. And I said, send
President Bush over there to stand next to Putin and say that
Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Russia
and, yes, the Government of Russia in opposing and defeating
those who had murdered children in order to obtain their
political ends. As we have seen in Boston, the young man who
put the bomb down did so right behind an 8-year-old boy.
Now, the answer was evident that, no, the President didn't
go there. Let us also note that how many people here know that
the Russians have built a monument in memory of the people who
were killed, the Americans killed in 9/11--how many know that
right across from where the World Trade Center was looking
across the bay there is beautiful monument that was built by
the Russian people and the Russian Government expressing
solidarity, and the sorrow and heartache of seeing their
people, ordinary people, Americans and citizens, old people and
young people losing their lives like this to a terrorist
Well, today I would hope that what happened in Boston and
the fact that it related directly back to Russia and Chechnya
in terms of there is a line we can draw, that I hope that that
will motivate us to work with Russia in order to defeat those
who would murder children in order to obtain their goals.
Now, the Chechen independence movement was originally
secular and nationalist. What I am talking about is I do not
understand how radical Islam talking about God and Allah, as
they say, that they seem to be the ones who justify acts and
make legitimate acts of murdering innocent people who are
noncombatants and targeting noncombatants; not targeting the
army of someone, but targeting noncombatants. That is being
done to terrorize us into submitting to some of their radical
religious thought, I guess. But in the beginning the Chechen
independence movement was secular and nationalist. Now it
appears that radical Islamists' ideology is pretty much
dominating that independence movement.
These are people who now this radical Islamic ideology
makes a common jihad against Christians, Jews and Hindus
throughout the world. Where did that come from? How did that
happen? I am asking the panel. And was this--the financing of
Wahhabi extremism and financing of these mosques, did that have
something to do with this? And what kind of threat in the
And also let me note they didn't permit in Uzbekistan the
Saudis to come in and build their mosques. They were criticized
here as that is a violation of their human rights. But we know
that the Saudi purpose of doing this was to develop a brand of
Islam that will target and kill children.
So, number one, how did it become this radical ideology,
and is there a way to counter that? And is Uzbekistan wrong,
and are we right to condemn Uzbekistan for not allowing them to
build their mosques?
Mr. Goble is really anxious here. Go right ahead.
Mr. Goble. As someone who was quite involved with Dzhokhar
Dudayev, who, after all, prevented the killing of Boris Yeltsin
in January 1991 and also prevented the killing--extension
killings from Vilnius and Riga to go to Tallinn at that time, I
can testify that the Chechen national movement was completely
The process by which you saw a change is not that the
entire movement changed, but the part that got attention
changed. It was a product of, I believe, three different
factors. The first was that the Chechen national movement, as
articulated by Dzhokhar Dudayev, believed that Chechens as a
nation had a right to independence, the same way the Estonians
or the Latvians or anyone else. That was his personal belief.
When the Chechens did not get any support for their position in
the West, they began looking for support elsewhere.
Disappointed in our not having supported us, they turned to
look at the people--the only people who were prepared to say
they were supporting them.
Second, I mentioned some numbers about the people, the
number of people going on the haj. This is a good indication of
how intense you have. Over the last 22 years, Chechens have
formed roughly 40 percent of hajis coming from the Russian
Federation, even though the Chechens form less than 1 percent
of population of the Russian Federation. So you have a lot of
people being exposed.
And third thing is there has been money, real money, coming
in from the Saudis, and not just the Saudis, a number of other
people, too, to build various kinds of things.
I would argue that there is still a Chechen national
movement which is committed to a secular and free Chechnya.
Unfortunately, it gets very little attention, and it gets very
little attention in Chechnya because it has been so
unsuccessful. When people are unsuccessful, when the people
they hope will be their allies don't turn out to be, it is not
surprising that they turn to other people who were willing to
support them. And, unfortunately, some of the people they turn
to in this instance have, as you have quite properly pointed
out, truly criminal and immoral agendas.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let me just note, and then I will go to
the ranking member, just say I can't imagine if a number of
Western countries where people would be so committed to their
national independence, and they were so frustrated that they
weren't getting outside support, that they would go to ally
themselves with those who want them and help them murder large
numbers of children. I don't--you know, this is not an excuse.
Them not getting supports from the United States or from people
who believe in democracy is no excuse to help people who are
willing to murder--to target children.
Mr. Goble. Mr. Chairman, I was not seeking to find an
excuse. I am just trying to provide and explanation, an answer,
because it is absolutely true. What was tragic is that those
people who recognized what was going on were almost entirely
ignored, and that there was a lot that could have been done and
should have been done and wasn't done.
Mr. Rohrabacher. All right.
Mr. Goble. I certainly do not believe that we are--we bear
responsibility, either then or now, for what happened.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Mr. Keating.
Mr. Keating. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Migranyan, given your familiarity actually with the
Russian Government, I have a question. The FBI investigating
the Boston Marathon bombing received information from Russia,
but then they sought additional information after their
investigation. Can you speak or shed some light on maybe the
culture that exists with law enforcement and with security
officials in both countries? And can you comment on how it
could be improved perhaps?
Mr. Migranyan. My opinion is that--but this is my guess--
when I called to Moscow yesterday to talk to some high-ranking
people over there because CNN wanted me to comment about these
contacts between security forces, they said, no, no, they are
working now, they are cooperating, and we are not going to make
any comments on this.
But my personal guess is that this is the problem of
distrust between our countries and our security forces. I am
afraid that when Russian security and law enforcement agencies
asked FBI to look at these guys, by inertia, you know, in this
country and in the West still is the dominant idea that the
Russian authorities are oppressing them; this is some Russian
plot; this is not terrorism, it is something else. That is why
I am afraid that they just didn't pay enough attention to these
warnings on behalf of Russia. As a result of this--as I said in
my preliminary statement, there is a kind of among Russian law
enforcement authorities and especially the political circles--
and I know them very well, being in Presidential Council and
working with all this administration--since 2001, there is a
deep feeling of betrayal, you know, because Putin was the first
to talk to Bush. Putin offered every opportunity which Russia
had and very strongly cooperated in fighting against Taliban
and al-Qaeda, and in response Russia--I remember the spirit
showed the situation in Russia at that time. Everybody was
thinking that at least we are finishing it and putting back
this Cold War, all our distrust, and we are going to cooperate.
Mr. Keating. I understand. One of the things we want to
perhaps come of this is a better opportunity to have security
advisors and law enforcement work more closely despite our
differences, as difficult as they can be at times, because on
both--in both countries lives could be lost in the homeland as
well, particularly with groups like the Caucasus Emirates, they
are terrorist groups.
I had a quick question, though, for Dr. Freizer if I could,
too. We are getting reports that--you know, there are posters
coming up in the North Caucasus area and actual support or
support for the terrorists that conducted the Boston Marathon
bombings. I don't know what information you might have in those
reports, but this is unusual that there is so much attention
focused on the U.S., negative attention. Can you comment on
what you might think, in your opinion, in your work with your
group; is there a different viewpoint now toward the United
Ms. Freizer. In our reporting so far, we have not really
looked at the Russian-United States relationship as relates to
the North Caucasus, so I can only answer this question
What I can say is that in its statement of last week, what
the Caucasus Emirates clearly said is that they are not at war
with the United States. So it is not the ambition of the North
Caucasus insurgency and terrorist organization Caucasus
Emirates to extend its war to the United States, or really to
extend it beyond the region of the Caucasus, including perhaps
I think that the posters that you are seeing today are, of
course, very troubling, very disturbing to see that there are
people in this region who are taking pleasure of what happened
in Boston. Some of this might just be kind of local--local
pride in terms of just family links, but, of course, this is
highly unfortunate, and I don't think it really reflects on the
feelings of the general population in the region.
Mr. Keating. Thank you.
Just in closing I do appreciate Mr. Goble's efforts to
distinguish Muslim religious individuals from some of these
extremist groups. It is an important thing to do.
With that I will turn it back, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. Rohrabacher. And now Judge Poe, chairman of the
Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation.
Mr. Poe. Thank you again for being here. I am a little
irritated that the State Department is not here, this is an
important topic. I am sure they don't have all the information
yet, but they should at least show up. And it is ironic that
the Russian Government helped us get a witness here to help us
from that perspective. Mr. Goble, you may be the last person in
the State Department that worked on this issue. Maybe that is
why you are the only one here today.
But I do have some concerns. I think we have learned that
radical Islamic jihadists do not come from one area in the
world. They come from all over the world, and some are
homegrown. Chechnya is one of those areas that we need to focus
on. And we need to work with the Russian Government on what has
taken place there, because what takes place there obviously has
been taking place here as well, with the influence and a red
line from Dagestan to the United States as far as what criminal
activity, terrorist activity is taking place in our own
It is interesting that if Dagestan is a place where it is
known it is a haven for jihadist philosophy, and it is growing,
why we would not be concerned about someone that is in the
United States going to that area for 6 months. I mean, what was
he doing for 6 months? Who would this person--the older
brother, let us call him--who could he have been meeting with
to get influenced by al-Qaeda or from al-Qaeda jihadist
movements? Enlighten me on that. I can tell, Mr. Goble, you
want to start.
Mr. Goble. Well, I just want to suggest that one of the
insights that Americans have brought to the appearance of
terrorism is that it often--it is often bred in failed states,
where there are no political institutions to run things.
It is worth noting that a week ago the new Acting President
of Dagestan, Ramazan Abdulatipov, described his Republic as a
failed state, as a state where political and legal institutions
did not work and where he could not control the situation. This
gives--this opens the door to the kinds of things we have seen
elsewhere. failed states, states that cannot control their own
population, that cannot operate as a state normally does,
inevitably open spaces which are exploited by radicals of
various kinds, and there are places, I am absolutely sure, in
highland Dagestan where no outside official has ever been. It
is that kind of a place, both topographically and
demographically. So the possibility of someone going there for
6 months and not being exposed to radicals in one way or
another strikes me as slim to none, and that is why----
Mr. Poe. It is not the place you would go fishing or take a
Mr. Goble. Among other things, that is right. And it is
also a place where you would expect that someone who went--that
had the troubled biography this gentleman did would end up
being an object of interest of not the right kind of people
were he there. I am much more concerned about the 6 months in
Dagestan than the fact that the man is an ethnic Chechen.
Mr. Poe. Let me reclaim my time, because I don't have but
Would you think that maybe we ought to be concerned about
that, especially if the Russian Government tells us two times
that this is somebody that we ought to be concerned about, and
all of a sudden he comes back to the United States; maybe a
Customs official knew it, maybe he didn't. But wouldn't you
think in the area of intelligence that ought to raise a red
flag? This is not something that should have slipped under the
rug, just snuck in.
Dr. Albert, I will just let you just weigh in on that
Mr. Albert. It definitely poses a concern if we didn't
communicate properly that he was visiting the area to Dagestan.
I want to address the original point also of who could this
person have been meeting with in Dagestan that would pose a
threat, and this is particularly the organization known Shariat
Jamaat, which could be a subset----
Mr. Poe. How large is that organization?
Mr. Albert. It is not very large, but it is probably the
Mr. Poe. How large? Give me some numbers.
Mr. Albert. Maybe less than 1,000 individuals, but that is
just reasonable conjecture. I don't have much evidence of that,
but probably around 1,000 individuals. They are actively
recruiting throughout the area as well. It could be larger
because it is attached to the Caucasus Emirate, as well it is a
confederation of alliances around there.
Mr. Poe. I am sorry, Dr. Albert, I need to interrupt you
for one last question.
Is the influence of the radical jihadist movement, let us
just use that phrase, in Dagestan on the increase, or is it
decreasing? I know that it is something that the Russian
Government is concerned about. Is it something we should be
concerned about as well? Is it on the increase? That is my last
Mr. Albert. Yes, it is on the increase in Dagestan, and it
is something we should be concerned about.
Mr. Poe. All right. I am out of time. Sorry, Doctor.
Mr. Migranyan. Not a problem.
Mr. Poe. I yield back.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Let us just note that I don't believe that
any Americans are concerned if a country decides to have
leadership that is religious, and they decide to have groups of
people. What we need to be concerned about is if it happens to
be a religion that convinces people that part of their faith is
to go off and murder other people's children. So if they were
taking over that part of that country, and they were just
people who wanted to exercise their religion and worship God as
they see fit, nobody here would have any objection to that at
all, or their independence and their right to vote, et cetera.
Now Mr. Sherman.
Mr. Sherman. Thank you. Perhaps they could reset the clock.
Does anyone have a little quick history lesson for us as to
the Chechen deportations? Dr. Albert, how many people were
kicked out, et cetera?
Mr. Albert. The entire population in 1944 was deported by
Stalin. I think the numbers would be around 800,000. I believe
a quarter of those died in transit, or they were deported to
Central Asia. They were allowed to return--who occupied their
homes earlier, I think, was a question. Russia resettled some
people from the Russian mainland to their homes inside Chechnya
at that time. Khrushchev eventually allowed the Chechens to
come back. Some of them, for obvious reasons, chose to stay
where they were. Many of them came back.
There were issues and ethnic tensions within Chechnya with
the people that had resettled in their homes, as you could
imagine. This is known as a great trauma or great tragedy to
the ethnic identity of Chechens that this event occurred. It is
something very strong in their historical memory.
Mr. Sherman. In 1944, there were Russians living in these
homes in an area that had supported 800,000 people. Today in
Chechnya how many of those Russians are still there?
Mr. Migranyan. It is a good question. You know, after all
these wars, there was huge propaganda comparing that the
Russians are killing and massacring all the Chechens; now
practically no Russians left in Chechnya. They terrorized all
of them and kicked them out.
Mr. Sherman. So there were tens or hundreds of thousands of
Russians in Chechnya----
Mr. Migranyan. 300,000 Russians lived in Chechnya.
Mr. Sherman [continuing]. Cleansed by this.
I want to join Mr. Rohrabacher in his call for better
relations between the United States and Moscow, and point out
that we granted refugee status to this family. That is
something we would do only if we are claiming that they are
oppressed by the Russian Government, and we see the outcome.
Who can answer the question as to what level of--you know,
what are the training bases for extremist Islam in the
Dagestan, Chechnya area? Is there, like, a particular site
where they have hundreds of people getting military training?
Mr. Migranyan. Short answer is that in 1990s, they were
training over there in Chechnya, in Ingushetia, in other places
because the central government was very weak. Now they are
limited because practically in Chechnya--Chechnya totally is
under the control of Kadyrov, and this Sufi Islam is over there
traditional, which means that are limiting.
Russia's central government is trying to strengthen local
presidents and local authorities, putting the security guys in
Ingushetia, and now Ramazan Abdulatipov, whom I know very well.
But this is a long-lasting process.
Mr. Sherman. One thing the Russian Government told us to
watch Tamerlan. He spent 6 months in the Russian Federation.
How robust is the Russian intelligence and law enforcement
system in the Dagestan town where the parents live? Would we
expect the Russians to keep track of this individual during
those 6 months, or is this an area where the writ of the
Mr. Migranyan. The fact that almost 2 months ago that the
President of Dagestan was changed proves that really this is a
failed state. Institutions are very weak. Bribery is very high,
and ethnic alliance are too, too many, because too many ethnic
groups, it is very hard to get lost in that mountainous places
where from village to village different languages and different
ethnic groups are living.
Mr. Sherman. Mr. Goble.
Mr. Goble. There are within Dagestan 30 different mutually
nonintelligible language groups. In an area of----
Mr. Sherman. Just in Dagestan? Not the Caucasus.
Mr. Goble. No, this is just in Dagestan. There are 30
different nations speaking not mutually intelligible languages.
Most Dagestanis are tri- or quadrilingual as a result, because
it is the only way you can function. But what that means is
that in many areas it is very, very difficult from someone from
the center, be it Moscow or locally from Makhachkala, to
penetrate those language communities, and so a lot goes on
that, quite frankly, I think no one either in Makhachkala or
Mr. Rohrabacher. Mr. Meeks, you have time for a 1-minute
statement on your part, and then we are going to be adjourning
Mr. Meeks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was paying attention closely to the testimony in my
office and trying to multitask, but I felt compelled to come.
I had a question for Mr. Goble, because the issue is--I was
listening to a lot--when you talk about the wipe open territory
and the terrain that is not manageable reminded me somewhat of
what was taking place in the Western Hemisphere in Colombia at
a time, and where we tried to demil--bring some of those
individuals back into society again, whether or not there was
something that was being done, or, you know, my issue, in the
middle, so that those who are being taken toward terrorists and
terrorist actions, to bring them back into society so that they
can reassimilate into culture.
Mr. Goble, real quick.
Mr. Goble. The single best predictor of when you get
terrorism is the unemployment rate among 18-year-old males
around the world. Everything else, that trumps everything.
In parts of the North Caucasus, unemployment rates overall
are ranging from 50 to 70 percent, and among young people they
are, in many cases, 100 percent in terms of the officially
What is the best thing that can be done, and the Russian
Government is doing some of this, and it is also being helped
by Azerbaijan, is trying to build factories to give people
jobs. People who are employed and who are integrated into
society in that way are far less likely to listen to any
missionary from al-Qaeda.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much. I am sorry, we have 3
minutes left, and it will be \1/2\ hour before--30 seconds.
Ms. Freizer. Thank you. In the 30 seconds I just want to
say that the mention of these committees in Colombia, in Russia
they have started setting up similar committees for the
rehabilitation of former fighters, and this is something that I
would say would be an area where the U.S. Government and Russia
would be able to share experiences.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Okay. Thank you very much. We appreciate
all of the witnesses.
And let us just note at the end, during the Cold War, I was
the Soviet Union's worst enemy and nemesis because I believe
that free people need to determine who their number one enemies
are and work to try to defeat them. That doesn't mean that the
people you work with are perfect, et cetera. And we did bring
down the Soviet Union. We worked with a lot of people who have
had a lot of faults.
Today radical Islam, radical Islam and China appear to be
the main adversaries of people in the free world and the main
threat to the free world. I hope we all work together against a
religion that will motivate people to murder children and other
threats to us and to civilization.
This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:01 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing RecordNotice deg.
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Material submitted for the record by Sabine Freizer, Ph.D., director,
Europe Program International Crisis Group
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[Note: The above report is not reprinted here in its entirety but is
available in committee records or may be accessed on the Internet at:
conflict.aspx (accessed 6/5/13).]
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[Note: The above report is not reprinted here in its entirety but is
available in committee records or may be accessed on the Internet at:
and-counter-insurgency.aspx (accessed 6/5/13).]
Question submitted for the record by the Honorable Paul Cook, a
Representative in Congress from the State of California, and responses
from Andranik Migranyan, Ph.D., director, Institute for Democracy and
Cooperation, and Sabine Freizer, Ph.D., director, Europe Program
International Crisis Group
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