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Russia braces for more attacks
September 07, 2004
Russia and its people have been the victims of four terrorist strikes of the International Islamic Front since August 24, resulting in the horrible deaths of about 450 innocent civilians, many of them young children.
During these 10 days, more innocent civilians have been killed in Russia than since the beginning of this year in Jammu & Kashmir by Pakistani jihadi organisations belonging to the IIF.
More civilians have been killed by jihadi terrorists in Russia in 10 days than since the beginning of this year in the rest of the world minus South Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Moscow strikes were directed at means of transport and commuters, while the Beslan strike was intended to use children as hostages in order to achieve certain demands of the terrorists.
National mourning in Russia
During the ensuing negotiations between the terrorists and the local authorities to secure the release of the children, things went horribly wrong resulting in an exchange of fire between the security forces and the terrorists and the alleged use of explosives and mines by the terrorists, resulting in the death of 322 civilians, plus 20 terrorists. Young children constituted a half of the civilians killed.
Of the three incidents in Moscow, two involved women suicide bombers, reportedly Chechens from Grozny, the Chechen capital, and the third a man of unestablished identity, who seems to have activated the explosive device through remote control.
Beslan is a wake-up call
The first two incidents in Moscow -- an August 24 explosion at a bus stop on the road to one of the local airports, which did not result in any fatal casualties, and two other explosions on board two aircraft a few hours thereafter which led to the disintegration of the planes and the death of 90 people, including all the passengers and members of the crew -- preceded the presidential election in Chechnya on August 29. Both planes had taken off from a Moscow airport.
The third explosion outside the entrance to a metro station on August 31 resulted in the death of 10 people. It coincided with the hearing by a local high court of an appeal filed on behalf of Zarema Muzhikhoyeva, a Chechen woman terrorist arrested in July 2003 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on a charge of trying to carry out a suicide mission.
The Russian authorities claim to have established that two Chechen women from Grozny named Amanat Nagayeva, 30, and Satsita Dzhebirkhanova , 37, had a role in the explosions on board the two planes and a third woman named Roza Nagayeva, who is said to be the sister of Amanat, had carried out the suicide bombing outside the metro station.
A frantic search in on across Moscow for two other suicide bombers, one of them named Maryam Taburova while the name of the other is not known, who had reportedly traveled together to Moscow from Grozny along with the other three for carrying out suicide strikes.
The authorities claim the Chechen terrorists have trained eight other women suicide bombers, who may be available for similar missions in the coming days.
While the Russian authorities claim to have established that the disintegration of the two planes was caused by an improvised explosive device, they have not yet been able to establish how the device was smuggled into the planes and activated.
Crash due to terror attack, says Russia
Amongst the various theories reportedly under examination are:
- The devices, with a timer, were concealed in the checked-in baggage belonging to the two Chechen women, who were made to travel by the aircraft, with or without the knowledge that their baggage contained the explosive devices. If after having successfully got the baggage checked in, the women had dropped out of the flights, this would have set off an alarm resulting in the off-loading and checking of their baggage.
- The women had carried the IEDs on their person or concealed in their shoes and had activated them manually. The IEDs were either in their checked-in baggage or had been smuggled into the aircraft by accomplices of the terrorists in the ground staff of the airline company and had been activated by the women through a remote control device or a mobile telephone.
- The IEDs were in the checked-in baggage of the two women, with or without their knowledge, and had been activated from the ground through mobile telephones.
The responsibility for the explosions on board the two planes and outside the metro station has been claimed by the Islambouli Brigades, headed by Mohammad Islambouli, younger brother of Khaled Islambouli, both of whom were involved in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in Cairo in 1981.
While Khaled Islambouli was arrested by the Egyptian authorities, tried and executed in 1982, Mohammad Islambouli, along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No 2 in Al Qaeda, and the late Mohammad Atef, the former operational chief of Al Qaeda, escaped to Afghanistan and joined the Arab mercenary force, which was trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and used against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988, Mohammad Islambouli and his followers stayed behind in Afghanistan and carried out a terrorist strike against the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad in 1996. They started cooperating with Osama bin Laden after he shifted to Afghanistan in 1996 and the Islambouli Brigade, along with two other jihadi terrorist organizations of Egypt joined his IIF, when it was formed in February 1998.
Initially, it consisted of only Egyptians and other Arabs, but after the US air strikes in Afghanistan post-9/11, it started recruiting Chechens, Uzbeks, Uighurs and Pakistani jihadis too. It is not clear why it generally refers to itself in plural as 'the Islambouli Brigades' and not in singular.
Since October 7, 2001, it has been operating from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It had also claimed responsibility for the unsuccessful attempt to kill Shaukat Aziz, the new Pakistan prime minister, in the last week of July at Fateh Jung in Pakistani Punjab.
No organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the carnage in Beslan. While the Russian authorities have claimed to have killed nine Arabs involved in the carnage, the indications till now are that it was carried out by a recently-formed organisation called the North Caucassus Islamic Front, which is reportedly a united front of jihadi organisations of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia and has as its objective the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in the region. It is patterned after the Pakistan-based IIF and the Jemaah Islamiyah of South-East Asia.
It is reported that amongst its founding members are a Chechen organisation called the Salakhin Riadus Shakhidi headed by Shamil Basayev, an organisation of Ingushetia (name not known) headed by Magomed Yevloyev, another Chechen organisation (name not known) headed by Doku Umarov and an unidentified organisation of Dagestan.
Since its formation early this year, the NCIF has reportedly been closely collaborating with the IIF, but it is not known whether it has formally joined the IIF.
Chechens vote to remain with Russia
The series of terrorist strikes since August 24, have caused fears of a possible act of catastrophic terrorism by these ruthless elements.
'Given that a series of deadly attacks, including co-ordinated raids in Ingushetia in June and a string of suicide bombings in Moscow, have failed to affect the Kremlin line, the extremists might opt for attacks of catastrophic proportions in the hope that the greater casualties and psychological shock would cause a capitulation,' said the Moscow Times, September 2.
'In a clear recognition of this threat, the Federal Nuclear Power Agency announced Wednesday (September 1) that security has been boosted at nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities across Russia. During Russia's first military campaign in Chechnya in 1994-96, the Chechen rebels acquired radioactive materials, threatened to attack nuclear facilities, plotted to hijack a nuclear submarine, and attempted to put pressure on the Russian leadership by planting a container with radioactive materials in Moscow and threatening to detonate it.
'Russia's second campaign, which began in the fall of 1999, has already seen Chechen-based radical separatists plant explosives in tanks filled with chemical substances, scout nuclear facilities and establish contacts with an insider at a nuclear power plant,' the article concludes.