‘Russian-Speaking’ Fighters in Syria, Iraq and at Home: Consequences and Context

Mark Youngman*, Cerwyn Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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This substantive report on Russian-speaking foreign fighters and Islamic State’s influence in the North Caucasus has been written by CREST Researcher Cerwyn Moore and ESRC-funded PhD Student Mark Youngman.

Despite its early and spectacular successes in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (IS) has, over the last year, suffered repeated setbacks that have weakened its ability to control captured territory and implement its state-building agenda. A key aspect of IS’s strategy has been the mobilisation of supporters across Russia and the former Soviet Union. Other rebel groups in Syria have also attracted support from these areas, illustrating the need for a proper understanding of the Russian-speaking militant milieu, beyond IS’s territorial claims.
The report shows that:
-- Islamic State has established a patchy toehold in Russia, in particular by linking up with a much-weakened domestic insurgency
-- This has lead to a wave of incidents, including an attack in Derbent, Dagestan in December 2015, and an attack in December 2016 in Grozny, Chechnya.
-- Whilst other incidents have been attributed to IS, many of these have been rudimentary attacks
-- The terrorist threat facing Russia is not reducible to IS.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats
Commissioning bodyCentre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2017


  • Caucasus Emirate
  • foreign fighters
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • North Caucasus
  • Islamic State
  • terrorism
  • insurgency
  • Russia
  • security
  • RCUK
  • ESRC
  • ES/N009614/1


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