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Following the Paris and Brussels attacks, the role of blood relations between terrorists has been a point of discussion.

Is targeting family members the most effective way to capture, correct or punish militants?

Russian authorities seem to believe it is.

For decades, Russia has been following an interesting counter-terrorism strategy to hit the militants where it might hurt the most- take down their families or close relatives. In fact, Russia even successfully crushed an Islamic rebellion in the Caucasus, using this very same method. This method could thus also have global relevance, as analysts believe that over 30 percent of those who are part of terrorist attacks, share familial relationship with at least one other attacker.

In an effort to fight terrorism, especially in the Caucasus area, Russian security officials would allegedly capture, torture or murder close family members or even distant relatives of suspected militants.

What makes them so confident about the effectiveness of this approach? What makes security authorities believe that family is key to negotiating with terrorists? To understand this better, let us run through the emergence of family connections in some of the world’s most horrible terrorist attacks.

  • Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui who blew themselves up as part of the horrifying Brussels attacks, were brothers.
  • Brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam were instrumental in executing the spine-chilling Paris attack on November 13th 2015.
  • A teenage boy and his elder sister constructed an explosive which was set off by their brother at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport in 2011, claiming 36 victims.
  • Sisters Amanat and Roza Nagayeva turned suicide bombers at an airplane and Russian subway in 2004.
  • Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Chechen brothers, set off bombs in the deadly Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

There seems to be an interesting pattern here. It appears as if when terrorists are related to each other, they are better at bloodshed. The Russian counterinsurgency approach comes as no surprise then, when the issue is viewed with this perspective.

In fact, member of Russia’s human rights council Kirill V. Kabanov warns that terrorists should understand that their “relatives will be treated as accomplices.” He explains this further, “When a person leaves to become a terrorist, he can kill hundreds of innocents. Those are the morals we are talking about. We should understand, the relatives must fight this first. If the relative, before the fact, reported it, he is not guilty. If he did not, he is guilty.”

However, is this logic really ethical or absolutely effective?

The answer can be found in the case of the Paris attacks.

The family of alleged terrorist Hasna Aitboulahcen, have


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