Radicalizing the marginalized : Central Asian migrants in Russia




Reeves, Zachary Austin

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This paper will examine the pattern of Central Asian migrant workers in Russia becoming radicalized and leaving to fight for the Islamic State in Syria. This progression is notable, as few Central Asian residents have left from their homelands to Syria directly. Instead, there appears to be a combination of push and pull factors driving migrant workers out of Russia and into the arms of the Islamic State. Through a historical review of radicalization-related literature and an analysis of the social situations unfolding in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia, this paper will attempt to shed light on why migrants would risk moving to Syria and Iraq. The results of this research indicate that Tajik and Uzbek migrants in Russia are uniquely vulnerable to radicalization. A combination of authoritarian repression at home, discrimination and marginalization abroad, and a potent group of local recruiters, is pushing Uzbeks and Tajiks out of Russia and into terror groups. These factors are unlikely to change in the near future, necessitating a serious consideration of new policy options to stymie this burgeoning geopolitical security issue.


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