This Is How Chechnya Deals With ISIS Recruiters

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. May 27, 2008. Photo by Sergei L. Loiko. CC 2.0.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov playing with a tiger in his private zoo. May 27, 2008. Photo by Sergei L. Loiko. CC 2.0.

As Moscow appears to be expanding its military presence in Syria, many around the world have been busy debating Russia’s agenda in that country, asking if the Kremlin’s support for President Bashar al-Assad is compatible with the West’s campaign against ISIS, which includes efforts to remove Assad from power. While some question Moscow’s commitment to defeating ISIS in Syria, Russia’s campaign against the extremist group at home is undeniable. Earlier this week, Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, reminded everyone what this war looks like.

In a post on Vkontakte (Russia’s most popular online social network), Kadyrov shared a short video featuring roughly half a dozen men standing in a row with their heads bowed in shame. Speaking Chechen, Kadyrov gestures to the men disapprovingly. Next an old man and then an old woman speaks to the men with anger and tears. They point. They shout. They bury their faces in their hands.

The video features Chechen men caught recruiting for ISIS on social networks, and the elderly people shouting at them are their relatives and local community leaders. Kadyrov also implies that these individuals were reported to the police by their own families.

Я встретился с родственниками молодых людей, выступавших в соцсетях в поддержку Иблисского государства. Также пригласил имамов и глав населённых пунктов. У всех заблудших, уважаемые и глубоко религиозные родители, которые искренне осуждают поступки сыновей. Родители однозначно заявили, что растили сыновей в надежде на то, что они станут опорой в семье, будут истинными мусульманами и достойными гражданами. Они подчеркнули, что им не нужны такие сыновья, предавшие семьи, родных, близких, ислам и народ. Один из юношей искал слабохарактерных, слабоумных ровесников и агитировал выехать в Сирию. Он рассылал сообщения, в которых содержались угрозы представителям власти и их семьям. Я еще раз заявил, что в Чечне нет места тем, кто даже смотрит в сторону Иблисского государства. Самое главное, что родители тесно сотрудничают с духовенством и органами власти. При подозрительном поведении сыновей, они сразу же ставят в известность полицию и глав администраций. Это позволяет предотвратить худшие последствия.

I met with the relatives of the young men who promoted ISIS on social networks. I also invited several imams and community leaders. All these misguided men have parents who are honest, deeply religious people who sincerely condemn their sons’ actions. These parents repeatedly told them that they raised their sons to become the backbone of their families, to be true Muslims, and good citizens. They also said they had no need of sons who betrayed their family, their relatives, their loved ones, Islam, and their people.

One of these young men sought out weak-minded peers and tried to convince them to go to Syria. He circulated messages containing threats against the authorities and their families.

I told them again: there’s no place in Chechnya for anyone who even glances in the direction of ISIS. The most important thing is that parents are working closely with the clergy and the police. At the first sign of suspicious behavior, they immediately notify the police and local officials. This helps prevent even worse consequences.

Kadyrov is well known for his social media presence. He has 1.2 million followers on Instagram (where his account is now hidden to users without a subscription) and more than 235,800 subscribers on Vkontakte. Kadyrov not infrequently films men accused of Islamic extremism facing their parents and community leaders. In June 2015, for instance, he similarly assembled before angry parents roughly a dozen young men guilty of insisting that women wear burqas. (Chechen women customarily wear headscarves, but not full veils.)


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