Muslims in Russia See Putin’s Antiterrorism Efforts at Home as Backfiring
North Caucasus residents say crackdown often leads to new recruits for Islamic StateBy Thomas Grove, WSJ
Feb. 9, 2016 1:04 p.m. ET
MAGAS, Russia—President Vladimir Putin justifies his military action in Syria in part as a way to head off the terrorist threat at home, especially here in the mostly Muslim north Caucasus. But residents say the government’s often heavy-handed measures are instead creating potential recruits for Islamic State.
Roza Bogatyryova, a former police officer in Magas, capital of the Russian republic of Ingushetia, says her husband, Musa Bogatyryov, was one.
After marrying, he adopted the shorter pants and longer beard of those who adhere to the strict Salafi interpretation of Islam. That caught the police’s attention, and Ms. Bogatyryova said her husband was frequently stopped on the street. The police raided their house in early 2014, turning furniture upside down in a hunt for extremist literature; Ms. Bogatyryova said she was eventually forced from her job on the force.
Frustrated by the harassment, Mr. Bogatyryov, who drove for a living, sold his truck to pay for his trip to Syria, attracted by Islamic State’s message of a global caliphate that would deliver justice and punish unbelievers. His journey ended there: He was killed last year in an attack on an airport and his body was buried in Syria.