The international significance of the Caucasus region, both North and South, has increased greatly in the wake of September 11 2001 and the initiation of the global war on terror. Already on the map thanks to its position on a key transit route for oil and gas from the Caspian region, the region's alleged links with international terrorism have propelled it further into the spotlight. The ongoing conflict in Chechnya, in the Russian North Caucasus, continues to destabilise the entire region and provides a focus for radicalised Muslims around the world who perceive it to be another example of the repression of the Muslim people. Russia has continued to propagate the notion that Chechnya and terrorism are inextricably linked, and that international terrorism poses a critical threat to the security of its southern borders, where the complex level of ethnic diversity and myriad peoples of the Caucasus represent a significant security threat. How true is the Russian claim that the Caucasus is a “bridgehead” for international terrorism? And how far is terrorism in the region merely an “ideological scarecrow”? This paper will examine the veracity of such claims, the role of the media in promulgating both the terrorist threat and cause, and tensions between attempts to impose media controls and the ferocity of subsequent attacks. What impact have extreme attacks, such as the Beslan hostage-taking and the rising number of suicide bombings, had upon public support for the terrorist cause?
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