What Drove Young Dagestani Muslims to Join ISIS? A Study Based on Social Movement Theory and Collective Framing

Domitilla Sagramoso, Akhmet Yarlykapov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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This article analyses the mechanisms and the logic behind the large flow of young Dagestani Muslims to the Middle East, to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq—either to fight jihad or simply to live under Shari’a law. It examines the reasons behind the decision taken by many Dagestanis to fight jihad in Syria and Iraq, rather than at home in the North Caucasus, in support of the Caucasus Emirate insurgency. The article addresses this conundrum through the powerful lenses of Social Movement and Collective Framing Theories. It argues that an aggressive ISIS online propaganda campaign framed around effective messages of Muslim victimhood, the glories of the Islamic State, and the duty to carry out jihad—as well as very effective personal face-to-face recruitment efforts carried out by adherents of the Islamic State in Dagestan—played a key role in mobilising young Dagestani Muslims to emigrate to Syria and Iraq. These elements, together with the territorial successes of the Islamic State on the ground seem to account for the significant flow of North Caucasus Muslims, Dagestanis in particular, to the Middle East. Furthermore, for those willing to fight jihad against Russia’s ‘infidel’ regime, cost-benefit analysis argued in favour of joining the fight in Syria and Iraq over fighting at home in Dagestan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
Number of pages15
JournalPerspectives on Terrorism
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Collective framing
  • Dagestan
  • ISIS
  • Islam
  • Jihad
  • Propaganda
  • Social movement theory


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