Although attention has been placed on ISIS involvement in Syria and Iraq, new concerns are emerging that the terrorist group continues to spread closer to mainland Europe.
According to retired Air Force Col. Cederic Leighton, ISIS is now starting to join with Russian extremists. Leighton said, “They are riding a wave of popularity – wherever they get traction, that’s where they are going to have a franchise operation and they are doing a great job of it in the Caucasus at the moment.”
Russia is no stranger to terror attacks, with most being linked to the Caucasus region in Russia. In the 2000’s, two terrorist attacks took place in a Moscow theater and in a school killing over 400 people.
Vice President of the Heritage Foundation, James Carafano, pointed out that the Islamist minority in Russia that has been seeking independence from the government was the root cause of these problems. Carafano admitted that these extremist groups had potential to reach out to others and grow.
As Russia recognizes this extremist group as a domestic threat to the stability of their way of life, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has attempted to lead a campaign against the terror threat.
Carafano warns that if Russia responds as they have in the past, with a strong physical response, the problems will only get worse.
Southern Russia has become a concern for the U.S. after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, as it is believed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother were receiving radical training as they visited family in the region.
Leighton warns about these issues in Russia making their way to the U.S. borders and posing potential threats to U.S. security. As the threat increases so too does the possibility of refugees fleeing from these areas.
The Russians are terrified of the influence ISIS could potentially have through social media. With worldwide access to ISIS sympathizers, it is feared the terrorist group has the potential to radicalize followers across the world.
The United States will be watching the developments in Russia with a close eye in an attempt to prevent the threat from coming closer than it already has, yet watching won’t be enough. The Obama administration needs to come up with a cohesive ISIS strategy which it has admittedly so far failed to do.