Over the last three decades, migrants from the Russian North Caucasus have participated in local and global armed conflicts of different varieties. In many cases, they have done so as groups, or networks, representing one or more community. In the 1990s, Circassians fought in the Abkhazian war (1992) and in the first Chechen war (1995), though they withdrew from these conflicts when the struggle for a free Ichkeria turned into an al-Qaeda-branded jihadist movement. More recently, Chechens, Dagestanis and members of other North Caucasian Islamic communities have left in large numbers to fight in Syria—including with the pro-ISIS group Al-Baghdadi and with other anti-Assad forces.
Meanwhile, other migrants from the North Caucasus have made many European and Russian cities their homes, while maintaining strong links to their place of origin. What relationship, if any, exists between the networks of Muslims from the North Caucasus that have built peaceful lives around the world and the networks that have facilitated and taken part in armed extremism? What makes some migrants seek violent solutions while others integrate into modern democratic societies? Denis Sokolov, a long-time student of communities and networks from the North Caucasus, will lead a discussion to help understand how these questions might be answered today and in the future.