Rep. Rohrbacher: If Central Asia ‘Becomes Dominated by a Radical Version of Islam, It Will Change the Course of History’

By Melanie Arter | April 30, 2013 | 4:03 PM EDT

In this Jan. 3, 1994 file photo, a Russian soldier lies dead as Chechen fighters gather next to a tank outside the presidential palace in central Grozny. (AP Photo/David Brauchli, File)

( – Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, said Friday that if central Asia “becomes dominated by a radical version of Islam, it will change the course of history.”

“This part of the world is critical to the future of the human race. If it becomes dominated by a radical version of Islam, it will change the course of history in an extremely negative way,” said Rohrbacher said at a hearing titled, “Islamic extremism in Chechnya: A Threat to the U.S. Homeland.”

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Rohrbacher said the State Department claimed to be too busy to send a representative to the hearing, “and that may well be part of the problem” because the region “has not gotten the attention that it deserves.”

Central Asia and the Caucuses “represent a huge chunk of the planet,” he said, “and if that area comes under the domination of radical Islam that makes it its job to attack the United States or to attack other countries – not just the United States, but other non-Muslim people – that will be a disaster for every person on this planet.”

“That will usher us into an area that will be of violence and mayhem that will be hard to get out of, so we need to pay attention to the Caucuses, and we need to work with those people who will work with us to see that that does not happen,” Rohrbacher said.

He said the U.S. has not paid attention “until it stung us as it did in Boston and as it did on 9/11.”

Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaeva are Chechens who received asylum in the U.S. Three people were killed and at least 100 injured when two bombs exploded near the marathon finish line on April 15th.

“The origins of the terrorist attack in Boston have drawn attention to a region that has not received the study that it deserves,” Rohrbacher said. “The terrorist brothers had roots in Chechnya even though they grew up in America and had sought U.S. citizenship.”

The suspects’ father lives in Dagastan, which is part of Chechnya.

Dagastan “is now a hotbed of radical Islamic activity,” Rohrbacher said.

Al Qaeda is making it a priority of recruiting Chechens, Rohrbacher said, “and they are thought to have been trained in Pakistan.”

He called the appearance of Chechen fighters outside the northern Caucuses “ominous.”

“The original Chechnyan uprising against Russia was secular and nationalist. Within this context, there would be no motive for Chechnyan exiles to attack the United States, especially after we’d given them sanctuary,” he said.

“In the worldview of some Chechnyans, there has been—obviously some Chechnyans have had their world view radicalized as was the case of the two Boston terrorists, who have turned from young people being raised here into a jihadist mentality of global war against infidels, which includes us,” the congressman added.

“Muslims deserve freedom and progress, but the jihadist mindset hates freedom and will drown progress in a sea of blood. Even as a minority viewpoint, the radicals have done great damage throughout the Muslim societies from Pakistan to Afghanistan through the Caucuses. And they have attacked the United States as well as Russia,” he said.

He called for “greater cooperation with Russia and the governments of central Asia” to “properly understand and respond to this emerging threat.”

“We must find ways to expand our long friendship with Muslims in order to build a better future. That future should be of peace and prosperity for all people especially the people of central Asia, because all of us deserve to live in such a positive world, and we want to find positive ways of moving forward for these people,” Rohrbacher added.