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30 Mar, 2010 19:20

Caucasian trace in Moscow blasts might lead to Al-Qaeda

While the investigation of the Moscow blasts is underway, with authorities pledging to wipe out those behind the attacks, some experts believe it is a tough task as the terrorists could have been connected to Al-Qaeda.

“We know they [the terrorists] are lying low but it’s a question of honor now for our law enforcement to pick them out of the sewage pipes,” said Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

President Dmitry Medvedev stressed that the main aim of authorities, both federal and local, is to ensure security for those who are ready to live a peaceful life.

Read more about the Russian authorities' reaction

So far no one has claimed responsibility for the terror attacks in the Moscow Metro, however, it is widely believed that those behind the tragedy are Chechen militants, in particular Chechen insurgent leader Doku Umarov.

The republic of Chechnya has a notorious reputation of being an enclave for Islamic extremists from all over the world.

After a series of blasts across Russia and the international militants intruding into Dagestan, Moscow launched a counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya. The federal forces supported by the locals managed to get rid of most of the extremists.

Moreover, what was initially assessed as a nationalistic fight has turned into a broader Islamic conflict, connected to Al-Qaeda.

“If you look at the sort of propaganda that's put out by some separatist movements, then it's very closely allied to the propaganda put out by Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts in Al-Qaeda. So there is a sort of overlap there. Both groups are exploiting the other, if you like: the separatist to get more support, and Al-Qaeda to get more affiliates around the world,” says Richard Barrett, UN coordinator for Al-Quaeda surveillance.

Experts say the security services successful antiterrorist campaign in the Russian South recently has made the militant leader and his gang nervous.

“The primary aim for the Northern Caucasus militants in this case is to show that they are capable of undertaking attacks beyond the Northern Caucasus regions in areas such as Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, and that they can actually strike across Russia. Just in January the insurgent leader Doku Umarov stated that he wanted to attack Russian cities,” Matthew Clements, Eurasia editor at IHS JANE’s defense, told RT.

Read more about experts' opinion

One of the reasons extremist movements are flourishing in the Northern Caucasus is an economic one. The Northern Caucasus is still the poorest part of Russia.

The Kremlin has already invested billions of dollars to improve the situation. But the money alone is clearly not enough.

What is necessary now is greater engagement with the civilian community, working with people who, if not terrorists themselves, certainly come from the context in which terrorist movements are forming.

People should be reminded that Islam actually teaches submission, not aggression. So far, it can be said that official advocacy of the religion is losing to the one offered by the extremists.