Though many observers get the impression that Islam in itself is the key conflict-generating factor in Chechnya, the present article argues against this notion. The author stresses in particular that although there was a religious revival in Chechnya at the time, Islam initially played a marginal role in the ideology of Chechen separatists. J. Wilhelmsen addresses two different but mutually related questions: How did radical Islam gain a foothold in the Chechen separatist movement? Why are the moderates in the separatist movement loosing ground to the radicals? J. Wilhelmsen notably shows that the first war between 1994 and 1996 led to the radicalisation of a few warlords and politicians who came to play a crucial role since then; she casts light on the way foreign Islamist organisations have attempted to co-opt the Chechen conflict; and she shows how Russia’s policies towards Chechnya in the interwar period and in the second war have influenced the balance of power between moderates and radicals in the Chechen separatist movement.