„As for Russians, the total number fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq is impossible to know for sure, as official or semiofficial sources have given varying figures at varying points of time. (…) Indeed, some believe that Chechen republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, himself a former Islamist insurgent turned Russian state hireling, saw the rise of ISIS as a convenient opportunity to solve his own domestic terrorism problem by exporting it to the Middle East – an allegation that has already been leveled with increasing evidence against Russia’s security services, writ large.
Elena Milashina, a reporter for Russia’s investigative opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, concluded in 2015, based on field research in Dagestan, that ‚Russian special services have controlled‘ the flow of jihadists into Syria in the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, when the Kremlin feared a terror atrocity would scandalize the international sporting competition it spent so many millions of rubles hosting. ‚In our village there is a person, a negotiator,‘ Akhyad Abdullaev, the head of a Dagestani village, told Milashina. ‚He, together with the FSB, brought several leaders out of the underground and sent them off abroad on jihad.‘
The FSB’s so-called ‚green corridor‘ for transiting these violent fighters, as The Daily Beast reported, included helping them to obtain passports and other necessaries to migrate to Turkey and/or Georgia, and then ultimately to Syria. The belief was that they’d either be killed on a foreign battlefield and thus become one less headache for law enforcement to worry about, or they’d be picked up upon their return home. One unnamed FSB officer confirmed this policy to the International Crisis Group: ‚We opened borders, helped them all out and closed the border behind them by criminalizing this type of fighting. If they want to return now, we are waiting for them at the borders.‘ (…) Many Russian-speaking jihadists have gone on to positions of great prominence in the organization.“ (Michael Weiss/Katie Zavadski: Vladimir Putin’s Newest Export: Terrorists)