MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) – If Tamerlan Tsarnaev was already plotting the Boston Marathon bombings when he stayed in this bustling Russian city at the heart of an Islamist insurgency last year, neighbors say he hid it well.
Dagestan is the focal point of the insurgency in the North Caucasus where militants wage almost daily violence to establish an Islamist state. Residents of the city of half a million are so used to the violence that they are surprised by what they see as the fuss over the Boston bombings.
“What’s there to say? We’re used to this. There are bomb blasts and rebels everywhere,” said Galia Sulemanan, 55, a housewife buying bread in Abdulayeva’s grocery store. “Young people do this for money.”
The Caucasian Knot website, which monitors the violence, says 124 people were killed and 75 wounded in the first three months of his year in predominantly Muslim Russian provinces that stretch almost from the Caspian to the Black Sea, and include Dagestan and Chechnya.
“Such things (as in Boston) are always upsetting but you know this happens every day here. We’re surprised by the huge reaction,” said Magomed, a young man in a black leather jacket who declined to give his full name.
“Americans think they are some kind of ‘super people’, like their lives are more important than others’; They’re the world’s police. We have enough of our own problems to worry about it.”
Insurgents from the North Caucasus have carried out attacks outside the region – including on Moscow’s subway and at the main international airport of Domodedovo, where 37 people were killed in a bombing in January 2011 – but not on U.S. soil.
Many people in the region have long focused their ire on Moscow and Kremlin-backed local leaders, not on the United States, although there are clear signs of irritation in the region about some American attitudes.
“They blew up three people in the United States and people are up in arms. When they (Americans) kill 150, 200 people in Afghanistan, Iraq – why do they react differently?” asked Vagib Devletkhanov, 24, a soldier in the Russian army.
- Profile: Tamerlan And Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
- RT.com interview with Aznor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev in Dagestan