I’ve done fieldwork on the insurgency in Chechnya and Dagestan and have studied the war there for nearly 15 years. I’ve also interviewed several very prominent rebels.
If confirmed, this would mark the first time Chechens have attacked any sort of U.S. target. Up until now their focus has been on Russia. This is a big deal. And it shows how the conflict in the Caucasus has metastasized into a kind of globalized jihadist theatre, at least in the minds of the young people fighting there.
These guys likely had no connection to the Caucasus Emirate, a Chechen Islamist militant, in person; connection would likely have been online. This looks more and more like “resonant effects,” rather than something planned and executed by a cadre-level organization.
Chechens I know are crushed. Let’s hope the FBI gets to the remaining suspect before the Chechen refugee community in Boston does. Boston welcomed and protected Chechen asylum seekers like no other city. Those people will tear these kids to pieces for the harm they’ve done.
Christopher Swift is an adjunct professor of national security studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a fellow at the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security Law.