Chechnya – Headscarves, Not Babushkas.

This is not your grandmothers Russia, Islamist Chechen soldiers are joining with Al Qaeda all over the Middle East and can be found across vast areas; from civil wars in Northern African to rebel camps in Syria, and now Boston, Massachusetts.

A slender bronze statue of Medea, the Greek goddess of rage, holding up Jason’s Golden Fleece was unveiled in the Black Sea city of Batumi. Medea is a fitting patron for the Caucasus region which has been raging war for centuries.  This seaport allowed fighters and supplies to transit into Chechnya; rejecting Russian demands to stop.

Written by Darlene Casella

Chechnya lies between the Black and the Caspian Seas. Russian Tzar Nicholas I led a successful invasion into the Caucasus regions. Citizens speak Kakh, not Russian. The clan society is 95% Salafi/Shafi Muslim. The national anthem is Death or Freedom.  During WWII they were Nazi Collaborators. In the 1980’s thousands joined the Mujahedeen with Osama Bin Laden.  When Russia left Afghanistan the Chechen rebels took all weapons, bombs, and chemicals.

Rebellions and two brutal wars for independence, claimed thousands of lives.  Massacre in the town of Samashki, which the United Nations claims ended in the death of more than 100 civililians, did not remove the Russian rule which Chechens resent. Shamil Salmanovich Basayev was a militant Islamist leader of the Chechen rebel movement. Basayev launched mass hostage takings of civilians, the assault on the Beslan elementary school which killed 300 people, mostly children; and was responsible for numerous attacks including the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis, and was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world until 2006 when he was killed by an accidental explosion.

Many rebel fighters in Syria and in the Al Qaeda wars in Africa are Chechens.  Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury Massachusetts pharmacist and US citizen, was convicted of conspiring to kill American soldiers and to radicalize others.  He cited Chechnya first in his list reasons that made him a jihadi.  Jose Padilla, a New York US citizen was convicted of aiding terrorists in plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States.  His co conspirator Mohammed Elzahabi was a Boston cab driver who had fought in Chechnya.

Grozny is the capital of Chechnya.  President Ramzan Kadyrov imposes a “virtue campaign” of Islamic law.  Women appearing to be out of compliance with the strict dress code are physically attacked and harassed by the Sufi tarikats, religious brotherhood.    One young girl lost an eye, paint ball guns are shot at non compliant women from moving cars.   While most Chechens live in deep poverty, the extravagant lifestyle of President Kadyrov is made possible from the largess of Vladimir Putin. Unemployment is 55% – 85% in some areas.

The beautiful island of Cyprus has the Greek Goddess patron Aphrodite, goddess of love.  The Caucasus has the Greek patron Medea, goddess of rage. The misogynist Euripides, wrote the Greek Tragedy Medea about irreconcilable differences, and the inability to compromise. It is a dark play filled with death and destruction, where everyone loses everything. This could be eerily true of Chechnya today.

Author Bio

Darlene Casella is a freelance writer, former English teacher, stockbroker, owner/President of a small corporation.  She and her husband live in La Quinta, California.  She can be reached at darlenecasella@msn.com

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