The recent tragic events in Russia have induced a predictable reaction from the Bush administration. President Bush automatically linked the attacks to the US war against terror, thus linking the situation in Chechnya to the Wahhabist-Islamic terror that struck the US. This paints the Chechens as virtually the same as Islamic fundamentalists who attacked the US. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Chechens themselves are actually quite secular, and as far as Islamic practice goes, they are closer to Sufism than the fundamentalist Wahhabism of groups like al Qaida. There are infiltrators from Arab countries who have come to "help" them in their struggle against Moscow, but these characters, not a few of whom were involved in this last atrocity, are late-comers to a conflict that has been going on since 1830. This is a conflict in which Chechens have a legitimate beef with Russia.
Russian rule (rule from Moscow or St. Petersburg) has been tormenting the Chechens for some time now. Russian rule subjugated these people, declared war on their way of life, and at one point, ethnically cleansed them for rising up against Soviet rule.
For that reason, and many others, Chechens wanted at least some autonomy, and possibly independence from Moscow after the fall of Soviet rule. But Moscow couldn't bear any further erosion of their power, so they invaded and got their collective arse kicked by a comparatively tiny force of Chechen rebels. The Russian did, however, manage to destroy much of Chechnya in the process.
However, after having their forces bludgeoned by guerrilla warfare, the Russians decided to make peace and pull out. The peace lasted until a suspicous bombing of apartments in Moscow and incursions into Russia by the Chechen rebel leader, Shamil Basayev (who, by the way, is a product of Russia's criminal invasion in 1994). While the incursions into Russian territory were carried out by Chechens, the bombings were blamed on the Chechens with little evidence presented. This gave Moscow an excuse to go back in there and reassert their power, laying waste to the Chechen capital of Grozny and murdering untold numbers of Chechens and Russians. Such an extension of the conflict has brought along more infiltration of international terrorists and caused more suffering for Chechens and Russians alike. A prime example of the desparation on the part of the Chechens is the prominence of female terrorists in the attacks - many of whom allegedly have had husbands and brothers killed, or were themselves raped by Russian troops. These are people who have had everything they'd ever had destroyed, and, accordingly, they look in one direction for the source of their troubles - Moscow.
There are indeed Wahhabis in Chechnya now, thanks to Russian bombs. But don't let that cloud the reality of the entire situation down there. Many fighters in their original movement detest the Wahhabis who want to impose their form of fundamentalist Islam on Chechens, a secular people, who do not want Wahhabism. Nevertheless, Chechens are being falsely accused of aiding groups such as al Qaida and the Taliban, due to the abundance of ignorance of the situation in the Caucasus. So, the reality, in fact, is cloudy itself. Nevertheless, it is clear that simply grouping Chechnya in completely with Wahhabi groups such as al Qaida would be a mistake.