World Cup 2021 – Who’s In, Who’s Out?

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    Before most of its members switched their loyalty to the Islamic State, the al-Qa`ida-affiliated Kavkaz-Caucasus Emirate was responsible for numerous terror attacks in southern Russia since 2007. The terrorist organization carried out complex attacks such as those in Moscow metro and international airport (2010) as well as bombings in Volgograd (2013 and 2015). Its boldest attack was launched on December 2014 when a group of armed militants attacked a traffic police checkpoint outside the city of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. As demonstrated with the 1972 Munich Olympics, the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the November 2015 attack outside the Stade de France in Paris by an Islamic State cell based in Belgium, which also later planned to target the Euro 2016 soccer championships in France,46 sporting events can be attractive targets for terror attacks. On June 20, 2015, much of the leadership of the Dagestani-led Kavkaz Emirate that did not immigrate to Syria swore an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State and subsumed their movement into that of the caliphate. The northern Caucasus has been a hotbed of jihadi violence ever since Ibn Khattab’s small group of Arab mujahideen joined the outgunned Chechen boyeviki (fighters) during the first Russo-Chechen War of 1994-96 and grafted the notion of jihad onto what was essentially a war for Baltic-style national independence.48 When the Russians and their local Chechen proxies-led by the Kadyrov family-brutally suppressed the increasingly ‘jihadified’ Chechen independence movement in the second Russo-Chechen War of 1999-2007, the epicenter of violence in the region shifted eastward to the neighboring multi-ethnic republic of Dagestan.

    From there, a multi-ethnic jihadi movement led by ethnic Avars aimed to create a sharia law theocracy stretching across the small Muslim-majority republics of the northern Caucasus known as Kavkaz Emirate (Caucasus Emirate). The most active splinter group from the fractured Kavkaz Emirate remains the Islamic State’s Dagestan branch (one of the five sub-provinces of the Islamic State’s larger Velayet Kavkaz). Following the Russian suppression of the insurgency, there have been allegations that many jihadis from the region were subsequently allowed and encouraged to emigrate to the Islamic State’s caliphate in Syria in 2014-15 by Russian authorities who were glad to be rid of this menace.49 They reportedly did so via so-called “green corridors” with “facilitation, payment, passports” believed to have been approved at senior levels in the Russian government, according to a former Obama administration official quoted by ProPublica.50 The majority of insurgents who remained subsequently abandoned the Kavkaz Emirate and declared bay`a (oath of allegiance) to the Islamic State and makemestfu 토토사이트 renamed themselves the Kavkaz Velayet of the Islamic State (although the Kavkaz Emirate remained active in parts of Dagestan). In the past six months, there has been a torrent of postings on pro-Islamic State platforms threatening the 2018 World Cup.

    Just you wait.”75 In another image that was released on the encrypted app Telegram, which is favored by terrorists, in April 2018, the Islamic State threatened Putin directly, stating “Russia 2018. Putin you disbeliever. The FSB announced that several of those arrested underwent training in Islamic State camps in Syria. In February 2016, for example, they arrested a terror cell made up of “Russian and Central Asian citizens, led by an Islamic State fighter from Turkey” that was allegedly planning “high profile” attacks in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Sverdlovsk region.60 There have been other incidents involving what Russian authorities call Islamic State cells, including one in which security forces “eliminated” an Islamic State terrorist cell in a highway shootout in the southern town of Saratov on March 12, 2018. And as recently as April 17, 2018, Russian security forces broke up what they claimed to be an Islamic State terrorist cell in Rostov.

    While the large majority of plots appear to have involved extremists inspired rather than trained and directed by the Islamic State, there have been plots that authorities describe as having a deeper connection to Syria.a For example, on October 15, 2015, a group of 10 terrorists- were arrested for planning to carry out a terrorist attack on public transport in Moscow. On April 27, 2018, for example, Russian sources reported that the FSB had captured two jihadi terrorists plotting attacks on the Pacific island of Sakhalin and the far western province of Kaliningrad.85 The rising number of arrests in Islamic State-related terror plots in the lead up to the World Cup is certainly cause for concern and points to the existence of a very real terror threat in Russia. Between January and April 2018, Russia reportedly detained 189 militants and killed another 15 for involvement in terrorist plots. Out of concern over threats such as these, in January 2018, the U.S. In light of the above history, it is not surprising that the Islamic State and other global jihadi groups have seen the World Cup as an opportunity to make threats against Russia, galvanize would-be supporters to carry them out, dispatch cells, and spread fear.

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