Drawing on unique interviews with former jihadists from Russia's autonomous republic of Dagestan, this article is the first to examine the impact of ethnicity on jihadist groups' methods of organization and operations, primarily in terms of their target selection, local support, and recruitment and leadership policies. It distinguishes between largely monoethnic rural jamaats—or jihadist groups—and multiethnic urban jamaats, pointing to the contested nature of ethnicity, particularly in the latter group. It examines the steps taken by the leadership of urban jamaats to overcome ethnic cleavages and avoid interethnic tension both within the jihadists' ranks and with regard to the local population. The article illustrates that, as a divisive phenomenon in multiethnic urban jamaats, ethnic identity has been deliberately downplayed by the leadership of these groups at the expense of strengthening supra-ethnic Salafi-jihadist identity. The article also highlights the significance of ethnic identity in jihadist groups, in spite of it being contradictory to Salafi-jihadist doctrine.

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