Jordanian Chechens, Afghanistan and “Al-Qaeda” In Georgia

THE CAUCASUS AND IRAQ—The Chechen Connection

by B. Raman

On June 22, 2004, over 200  well-armed persons  simultaneously raided  three towns in the Ingushetia Republic of Russia, adjoining Chechnya, and  attacked police stations, government buildings and checkpoints with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. The Russian and the local security forces were  totally taken by surprise. Ninety-five persons were killed, the majority of them members of the security forces and other Government officials, including the local Interior Minister.

2. The followers of the Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Basayev are suspected of involvement. The Ingushetia Republic has a total area of  2,682 sq. km., with an estimated population of 190,000, the majority of  them ethnically Ingush  and by religion Muslims. This population estimate does not include the large number of Chechen Muslims fleeing from the Russian campaign against terrorism in Chechnya and taking shelter in Ingushetia.

3. This is not the first act of jihadi terrorism in the Republic, but this is the first one to have seen the  Chechens and the Ingush operating jointly against the Russians. Past attacks  were carried out mostly by Chechen terrorist groups with no active involvement by the Ingush, who were more spectators than participants.

4.However, Russian official spokesmen have denied the participation of the Ingush and have alleged that the attacks were carried out by a mixed force of Chechens, Arabs from West Asia, Algerians and Pakistanis. Since 1999, there has been considerable involvement of Arabs of Chechen origin from West Asia in acts of terrorism in the Caucasus, but the Russian authorities do not make a distinction between Arabs of Chechen origin and other Arabs . The Pakistani involvement has been mainly from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).

5. The terrorists involved in the raids of June 22 operated more like a guerilla army than a group of terrorists. They  launched lightning strikes, killed many, held control of the towns for a few hours and then quickly melted away, after having demonstrated to the local people their capability to strike at will and the inability of the Government security forces to anticipate and thwart their attacks. There are so far no reports of any acts of suicide terrorism on June 22, though in the past, suicide car bombings were the speciality of the Chechen terrorists.

6.On June 24, suicide bombers and armed groups launched well-cordinated and fierce attacks in five Iraqi cities—Mosul, Baquba, Ramadi, Falluja and Baghdad– killing over 100 persons—62 in Mosul and 40 in the remaining four cities. While the American troops and the Iraqi security forces collaborating with them were prepared for an increase in acts of terrorism by the foreign terrorists and in violence by the Iraqi resistance fighters before the hand-over of limited sovereignty to an American and UN backed Iraqi regime on June 30,2004, the intensity of the attacks, their spread over a wide geographical area and the co-ordination displayed by the attackers—whether terrorists or resistance fighters—took them totally by surprise.

7.The month of June has seen an average of at least one suicide car bombing per day in Iraq–the largest number in a single month. It has been estimated that since the beginning of this year, there have been about 60 suicide car bombings in the country. The majority of the bombings has been directed more against Iraqis perceived as collaborating with the Americans than against the Americans themselves.

8. There is no question of any linkage between the terrorist incidents of June 22 in Ingushetia and those of June 24 in Iraq. And yet, one has to underline certain common features of the prevailing situation in the Caucasus and Iraq, if one were to have a clear understanding of the state of jihadi terrorism in the world today.

9. The most noticeable common feature is  the seemingly  inexhaustible availability of suicide car bombers in  the Caucusus and Iraq for operations against the Russians and the Americans respectively. It might not be an error to say that neither the Palestinian terrorist organisations and those allied to them nor the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have had  so many volunteers for suicide bombing missions at their disposal as the Chechens have been having in the Caucasus since 1999 and the terrorists of Iraq since May last year.

10.In the Caucasus, practically all the suicide bombers have been Chechens, either of Russia or from West Asia. There has been no reported instance of the involvement of any non-Chechen suicide bomber.

11. In Iraq, the available evidence from the ground on the identity of the suicide bombers has been very weak due to the USA’s poor intelligence capability. During his regime, Saddam Hussein had ruthlessly supressed the religious fundamentalist elements, banned madrasas and put down the glorification of suicide terrorism even though he used to reward the families of the Palestinian suicide bombers operating against Israel. As a result, Iraq did not have the suicide jihadi culture during his time. It is very doubtful whether within a short span of a little over a year such a large number of Iraqis would have embraced suicide terrorism, whatever be their anger against the Americans.

12. Oral evidence from sources in Pakistan continues to indicate that the foreign terrorists operating in Iraq, from whose ranks the suicide bombers come, are mainly the Chechens of Afghan vintage, the majority of them Arabs of Chechen origin, who had come to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight against the Soviet troops. After the Soviet withdrawal  from Afghanistan in 1988-89, they stayed behind and joined the various Pakistani jihadi organisations, Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and the Taliban when it was formed in 1994.

13. While many of these Chechens went to Chechnya post-1994 to fight against the Russians, the others stayed behind in Afghanistan and fought against the Northern Alliance till October 2001. They fought against the US-led coalition thereafter and then moved over to the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan in Pakistan. Since February last year, these Chechens, many of them of Saudi and Jordanian origin,  have been moving to Saudi Arabia and Iraq in small groups to join in the jihad against the Saudi regime and the US-led coalition in Iraq.

14. The second common feature is the inability of the  regimes set up by Russia in Chechnya and by the US in Iraq to win the support of the local people without which no counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency campaign can succeed. As a result, the entire campaign against the terrorists in the Caucasus and against the mix of foreign terrorists and Iraqi resistance fighters in Iraq is spearheaded by the Russian and American troops respectively.

15. In both the regions, the terrorist groups have come to be viewed as national liberation groups. The local people do not view terrorism as an evil. In the Caucasus, support to the terrorists is seen as an act of ethnic self-emancipation. In Iraq, it is viewed as an act of patriotism.

16. Against the background of such perceptions, the chances of the Russian and American troops prevailing seem very remote for the present. The almost total local hostility has dried up the flow of intelligence. Neither the Russians in the Caucasus nor the Americans in Iraq have a clear picture of the strength, nature and plans of their enemies. Consequently, they have been repeatedly taken by surprise and there has been no major successful act of prevention.

17. The sadistic brutalities committed by some sections of the US troops on their Iraqi prisoners during their interrogation were a reflection of their frustration and anger over their failure to break the will of the Iraqis and others captured and make them talk.

18. The Afghan war of the 1980s against the Soviet troops attracted around 6,000 foreign jihadis, who joined the Afghan mujahideen groups and their Pakistani supporters in their fight against the Soviets. The largest component of these foreign jihadis were Chechens— mainly Arabs of Chechen origin from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Chechen migrants from Turkey and Chechen deserters from the Soviet Armed Forces. They were followed by Arabs of non-Chechen origin and Muslims from other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

19. When Osama bin Laden formed his Al Qaeda after the Afghan war against the Soviets, he kept it confined to Arabs of non-Chechen origin in order to ensure his own security and kept out of it the Arabs of Chechen origin because many of them had relatives in the West Asian security forces, particularly in Jordan. He feared that including them in Al Qaeda might enable these security forces to penetrate it.

20. These Arab dregs of Chechen origin consequently joined the various Pakistani jihadi organisations and other organisations such as  the Jamaat al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad [Unity and Jihad Group] of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which has claimed responsibility for many of the acts of terrorism in Iraq. While the US and other Western intelligence agencies have paid considerable attention to identifying the Arab leaders and other members of Al Qaeda and smoking them out, similar attention has not been paid to identifying the Chechen elements and neutralising them.

21.Western sympathy for the independence movement in the Caucasus is coming in the way of the Western countries acting with equal determination against the Chechen terrorists, whether they are operating in the Caucasus, in the tribal areas of Pakistan or elsewhere. Russian evidence on the involvement of foreign terrorists in the Caucasus and of Chechen terrorists outside Russia is sought to be dismissed lightly just as they were dismissing lightly in the past Indian evidence of Pakistani involvement in international jihadi terrorism.

22. This mindset is likely to prove counter-productive and further aggravate the ground situation in Iraq. Moreover, if one day there is an act of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that is likely to come either from the Arab members of Al Qaeda or from the Chechen members of other organisations. The Chechen terrorists are as ruthless as the Arab supporters of bin Laden and would not have any qualms about using them, if they manage to acquire them. This is another important reason why immediate attention needs to be paid to neutralising the Chechen component of the international jihadi terrorism, instead of treating them with kid gloves under the false impression that they pose a threat only to Russian nationals and interests and not to American nationals and interests.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter. E-Mail: corde@vsnl.com )

Protest against enforced-disappearances and murders of Baloch activists

Protest against enforced-disappearances and cold-blooded murders of Baloch activists

Karachi: A large number of people took out a protest rally from Arts Council Karachi to Karachi Press Club against enforced-disappearances and in-custody killings of Baloch activists by Pakistan (security agencies). The BNF (Baloch National Front) had given the call to protest.

The participants of the rally were carrying placards, banners and pictures of detained and killed Baloch political activists. Some of banners read: “UN BREAK YOUR SILENCE AND INTERVENE IN BALOCHISTAN, PAKISTAN SHOULD BE INDICTED OF WAR CRIMES AND STOP SUPPORTING PAKISTAN”.

The participants of the rally gathered in front of Karachi Press Club where the organiser of rally and leaders of BNF while addressing the media said that United Nations must impose economic sanctions against Pakistan because of its repressive policies against Baloch people. They further said that the UN must intervene in Balochistan and stop the massacre of Baloch Nation because Pakistan have been committing genocide of the Baluch since the forceful and illegal occupation of Balochistan. According to BNF leaders “Pakistan has committed serious war crimes and human rights violations”.

They speakers also strongly condemned the state media for silence over the continuous in-custody killings of Baloch pro-freedom political activists. They said the state [Pakistan] was abducting Baloch activists and torturing them to death and after dumping their bodies in deserted areas but the Pakistani judiciary and media is silent on such crimes of the state which proves that the entire machinery of the occupying state is supporting the elimination of the Baluch Nation.

They also said that several people have been abducted by state intelligence agencies and their whereabouts remain unknown, their family members are desperate to know about the fate of their loved ones. The relatives of illegally detained people have no clue whether their beloved ones are alive and they have been killed and buried in mass graves.

The BNF leaders said that after facing disgraceful defeat the state [Pakistan] is now systematically killing the most enlightened and well informed section of Baloch society i.e. students, lawyers, poets and political leaders and activists.

“Pakistan is also trying to hide her failure by terming Baloch problem as provincial issue and sometime the issue of some individuals. We want to make it absolutely clear that Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, Brahumdagh Bugti and Hyrbyair Marri are the name of an ideology and that is the ideology of free Balochistan”.

They said “on behalf of Baloch Nation we urged the International Community including EU, United Nations and other International Powers to impose sanctions on Pakistan for committing war crimes in Balochistan”.

Libyan rebels released the captured British commandos

[Truth about the captured SAS commandos, is that they were there uninvited by the rebel groups, who feared that news of their presence would put a further stink upon their revolution.  Qaddafi claims of battling against "Al-Qaeda" are bolstered by reports of "al-Qaeda"-oriented "Islamists" being released from rebel-held jails.]

Libyan rebels released the captured British commandos

Ливийские повстанцы отпустили захваченный британский спецназ

Libyan rebels released the captured British commandos

Reuters

Повстанцы были разгневаны тем, что британцы появились без всякого приглашения, поскольку, по их мнению, любая информация об иностранной помощи стала бы пропагандистской победой для режима Каддафи

The rebels were incensed that the British came without any invitation, because, in their opinion, any information about the foreign aid would be a propaganda victory for the regime of Gaddafi

 

Представители ливийской оппозиции опровергли также сообщения о том, что войска Каддафи захватили города Тобрук и Рас-Лануф

Representatives of the Libyan opposition denied also reports that troops Qaddafi seized the city of Tobruk and Ras Lanuf

 

Eight British commandos, taken hostage by Libyan rebels fled today Benghazi on board the frigate “Cumberland”. , Told broadcaster Sky News.

The rebels were incensed that the British came without any invitation, because, in their opinion, any information about the foreign aid would be a propaganda victory for the regime of Gaddafi.

It is unclear whether to stay in Benghazi, the British diplomat, who was guarded by riot police, or he also left Libya. Frigate “Cumberland” today made a call at the port of Benghazi, to pick up remaining in the east of the Libyan nationals and UK nationals of other EU countries.

Meanwhile, the authorities reported the capture of several towns in the east, the rebels deny this. Today, Libyan state television, citing sources in the environment of Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam reported that the regime of Gadhafi troops took control of three towns in eastern Libya – Mistratu, Ras Lanuf and strategically important oil center of Az-Zawiya. Now, according to the television, sent troops to storm the main town of the rebels – Benghazi, situated in a thousand kilometers from Tripoli.

Libyan television also reported the release of the city of Tobruk ‘from gangs of terrorists “and showed footage” on the celebration of this event in Tripoli and Sabha, as well as in his hometown of al-Gaddafi – Sirte.

However, a number of sources, including Western journalists, argued that the Ras Lanuf remains in the hands of the rebels, denied a report in the official television. “Last night there were no clashes, and the city belongs to us”, said the Libyan opposition, ITAR-TASS.

Despite this, today in the capital Jamahiriya held mass demonstrations in support of Muammar Gaddafi. Several thousand supporters of the Libyan leader, in the early morning took to the streets, waving national flags of Libya and shooting in the air of a firearm. The demonstrators marched through central streets of the city and marched past the residence of the Gaddafi at the military base of Bab al-Aziziuya. Whether there were there at the time Gaddafi himself – is unknown.

However, opponents of the Gaddafi regime denies allegations that the city Misrata, located 200 kilometers east of the capital, Tripoli, and fell under pressure from government forces, casting doubt on reports of the official television.

Representatives of the Libyan opposition denied also reports that troops Qaddafi seized the city of Tobruk and Ras Lanuf. “This is not true. We are here and monitor a large area on the Libyan-Egyptian border,” – committee member told reporters the rebels in Tobruk Fateh headlight. According to him, “the situation is under control, and no military action is not conducted.”

It seems that the regime of Gaddafi begins to yield while diplomatic pressure from the UN, U.S. and European Union countries. The leader of the Libyan revolution, said today that it will not interfere if the UN or the African Union in Libya send a special commission to investigate the situation on the ground. He said this in an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

“I’d like to see the team of investigators from the UN or the African Union arrived in Libya. This commission will be able to do the assessment of the situation on the ground without any obstacles,” – assured the Libyan leader.

According to Gaddafi, the allegation that the authorities brutally suppressed, including by the Army, speeches by anti-Government forces, are false. “I have never opened fire on his own people” – he said. It is, said the colonel, a “terrorist group close to Osama bin Laden.” Gaddafi has threatened that if the fall of his regime, “extremists seized power in Libya and a foothold in the Mediterranean basin.”

This also will result in a serious humanitarian disaster for the EU is convinced that the Libyan leader. “Thousands of people will flock to Europe and nobody can stop them,” – said Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, the situation in Libya is a growing concern of the international community. In late February, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution, it involves the arms embargo on Tripoli and the ban on foreign travel Muammar Gaddafi and his family. On the eve of the French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that France and Britain are now working closely together to achieve the adoption of UN Security Council a new resolution to block the air space of Libya.

As reported from Cairo, ITAR-TASS, in the west of Libya, there are fights between government troops and opposition forces, the troops are advancing on Gaddafi rebel positions in the east. According to reports, Az-Zawiya, ostensibly, completely cut off from the outside world. There’s not working telephones and the Internet. Reported that the rebels once again thrown back to the Ras Lanufu. The main attack is during these hours to Misurata – force Gadhafi use tanks, aircraft loitering over the city, but air strikes have not yet applied.

Libyan rebels argue that today they managed to shoot down the helicopter true Gaddafi Air Force. They reported that the helicopters were struck by them from the heavy machine gun on one of the areas in eastern Libya, near the sea port of Ras Lanuf, where the morning fighting.

Being in a rather complex situation, the Libyan Government has gone to such a move as the abolition of the collection of duties on the import of essential commodities. It has also abolished all existing in the country of consumption taxes and taxes on production. As the local media, the decision was taken by the State “in honor of the great victories over Libya’s terrorist gangs.”

The actions of Libyan opposition and the rebels are beginning to receive international support. According to ITAR-TASS reported from Paris, France “expresses its support for the” National Council of Libya in favor of overthrowing the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

“France considers unacceptable the use of force against civilians and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims of the riots in Libya,” – said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. At the same time he welcomed the efforts of the militia of Az-Zawiya, as well as in other parts of the country that oppose Qaddafi loyal units.

Earlier, the National Council of Libya has declared itself the sole legitimate body representing the interests of the country. Guide the Council intends to form an interim government to the rebels-controlled areas of eastern Libya.