It was a curious cargo for a Russian military aircraft: No bombs, no munitions, no troops, only women and children. The aircraft landed in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s Chechnya region, last October. The passengers were relatives of radicalized Russian nationals fighting for Islamic State, held captive in Iraqi prisons after being abandoned on the territory of the embattled and crumbling Caliphate.
Their return home was made possible by charismatic Chechen leader Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, who personally negotiated their release with Iraqi authorities. More recently, Kadyrov has announced that DNA harvesting will be carried out across Chechnya to identify over a hundred Russian children who, according to the data of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are still left on the territory of Syria and Iraq.