Ideology and Disengagement: A Case Study of Nationalists and Islamists in Chechnya

with Huseyn Aliyev


Disengagement from militant groups has often been related to individual level explanations like battle fatigue or desire to re-join family and friends. We seek to empirically examine which other factors, beyond individual level determinants, influenced disengagement processes among militants belonging to different types of Chechen militant organisations. Drawing empirical insights from unique in-depth interviews with former members of Chechen insurgency, their relatives, eyewitnesses of Chechen wars, and experts with first-hand knowledge of the researched phenomena, this study examines disengagement among jihadist and nationalist Chechen militants. Focusing on group-level factors, such as capacity to resist external pressures, use of violence, in-group social bonds and group cohesion, this article demonstrates that disengagement was a less viable course of action for Chechen jihadists than for nationalist militants.

Read paper