27 Jan 2011

'Arabising' the Chechens for maximum effect

In the aftermath of the suspected suicide bombing at Domodedovo airport which killed over 35 people and injured many others -  a grizzly image has appeared on Russian NTV television showing a photograph of what seems to be the severed head of the suspected suicide bomber.


It's said to be of a "man aged 30 to 35 and of North Caucasus or Arab appearance" according to the Moscow Times. Curiously, there's a big difference between the two, as there are big physical differences even among Arabs, for example between a Lebanese and a Yemeni or a Palestinian and a Northern Sudanese.

To say, "North Caucasus or Arab appearance" implies they are one and the same. I am no expert on genetics, but there is no doubt a reason why "white" people in general are referred to as "Caucasian". Chechens, are from the North Caucasus. Caucasus - Caucasian. No?

Blue and green eyes, pale white skin and somewhat Slavic features makes them look much like their Russian countrymen (Chechnya is an autonomous state within Russia and the fighters want it to separate completely), and I was informed once by a translator that large parts of their languages are mutually intelligible.

During the Chechen wars, scores of Arab jihadi fighters did join the Chechens in opposing Moscow's rule - but if they were referring to possible foreign fighters within Chechnya, might NTV and the Moscow Times not have been more specific?

It's quite likely that fighters from Chechnya, Dagestan or Ingushetia may have carried out the horrendous attack - especially those wanting the region to become an "Islamic Emirate".

Al Jazeera Blogs