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What You Need To Know About Chechnya And The Boston Bombing Suspects

Ethnicity doesn't indicate any defined motives or ties to possible groups, but it gives us some hints about the suspects' backgrounds.
 
 
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After an  overnight chase, the media is reporting that the two suspects the FBI identified in Boston Marathon bombers are brothers from the restive Russian state of Chechnya. Here’s what you need to know about Chechnya and why that matters.

Russia is actually a much more diverse country than many realize, with several ethnic groups and states making up the larger Russian Federation. Chechnya is one of those states, home to an ethnic group known as Chechens. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chechnya attempted to become its own independent territory as many of the former Soviet states did. A similar struggle took place in neighboring Dagestan, which, much like Chechnya, is a Muslim majority state within Russia where the suspects are believed to have lived for a time before emigrating to the United States. The Russian federal government launched  several all-out wars to keep Chechnya within the country. The last open conflict  ended in 1999, with Russian President Vladamir Putin accused of using  excessive force against civilians.

Moscow’s victory in the North Caucasus has never been fully cemented, due to an  on and off struggle between the separatists in the states and the central government. Various  social media accounts discovered possibly belonging to the two suspects indicate that both share a  heavy interest in Chechen issues.

Several Chechen separatists groups still exist and have carried out  many heinous attacks over the years. The most notorious of these was in the Russian city Beslan, when a Chechen group took an elementary school hostage in 2004. More than 300 hostages were killed during the incident, including 186 children. Chechen separatists were also behind a hostage taking at a Moscow theater, which ended with the Russian government  accidentally killing 130 of those inside the building. Chechens have also been identified or suspected as  jihadi fighters in conflicts around the world, including in Syria, while continuing to  wage an insurgency against Moscow for the establishment of an Islamic state in Chechnya.

Unfortunately, this does not tell us very much at the moment. An ethnicity does not indicate any sort of defined motive or ties to any possible group or groups and law enforcement has yet to provide any confirmation of the current reporting. Chechen groups also have traditionally focused their ire on Russia rather than targeting the United States. Finally, given their lengthy residence it is difficult to discern what — if any — ties or sympathies the two brothers have to Chechen terrorist groups. The older of the brothers — Tamerlan Tsarnaev — has been in the United States since as early as 1992 as a refugee and in 2002  hoped to box for the United States at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

 
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