Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin, Moscow and all Russian citizens are the latest group to be threatened by ISIS. The terrorist organization released a nine-minute video in which they declare war on Russia and command their followers to carry out attacks against the country. The terrorists state they are targeting Putin and the Russians for their interference in the Syrian civil war. The video was posted through a messaging app popular among Islamic State fighters. The video was posted using an account that has been used by ISIS in the past but the group has not yet formally taken credit for the video.
The threats were sprinkled throughout a video featuring ISIS fighters carry out random attacks and firing weapons in the desert. It ends with a man driving through the desert, screaming at the camera for his “brothers” to carry out Jihad against Russia. At one point the driver explicitly threatens Putin and Russian citizens directly, stating:
“Listen Putin, we will come to Russia and will kill you at your homes… Oh Brothers, carry out jihad and kill and fight them.”
This video comes on the heels of the terrorist group naming an official affiliate group in Russia’s North Caucasus region. The terrorist cell is known as Wilayat Qawqaz and has carried out some low level attacks but has not gained much traction or support. Many of Russia’s ISIS fighters hail from Caucasus states such as Dagestan and Chechneya. It is estimated that up to four thousand Chechens are fighting for ISIS in the Middle East at the moment, many of which emigrated to the area years ago during the Chechen wars.
ISIS sympathizers blame Russia’s ruthless counter-terrorism policy for alienating Muslim youths and breeding contempt. They claim that the policies in place make it easier for ISIS recruiters to radicalize young Muslim men. The Russian government requires anyone that qualifies for a “high-risk” list to submit urine, blood, and voice samples. This information is entered into a registry that is monitored by the Russian government. They then follow up with these people by contacting their employers, limiting their travel to local areas, and even detain or arresting the potential terrorists with little to no warning.
The threats may have some unintended consequences for the terrorist group. According to the BBC Russia and the U.S. are now increasing military and intelligence cooperation efforts against ISIS in Syria as a direct result of ISIS’ declaration of war.