Link Between Chechen Rebels and Al Qaeda?

Is there more than a casual connection between al Qaeda and the Chechen separatist rebels who took 1,000 hostages at a school in Beslan, Russia this week, killing 338 of them, including 156 children? Russian officials think so and point out that 10 of the 32 attackers were Arab. All but two were killed.

Chechens have been affiliated with the al Qaeda terror network, and an Arab connection suggests a further link between the Chechen rebel movement and international terrorism. Chechen rebels have been fighting Russian troops for a decade, seeking independence. Itar-Tass quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying the school assault was financed by Abu Omar As-Seyf, an Arab who allegedly represents al Qaeda in Chechnya, and directed by Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, The Associated Press reported.

Valery Andreyev, local head of the FSB security service, was quoted by Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy as saying the militants may have received help from local police, possibly because they were coerced, Reuters reported.

Aslan Maskhadov, a rebel leader and former president of Chechnya,

....has steadily become more sidelined in recent times by more radical leaders in the Chechen fight for a breakaway Muslim republic.

Russian officials have charged that Al-Qaeda financed the attack and that Chechen leader Samil Basayev planned it. But, the Islambuli Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the August 24 aircraft crashes in Russia that killed 90, has denied responsibility for the school massacre:

The group, thought to be linked to Al-Qaeda, published a notice on a website. "We announce that none of our units have links with this operation. We supplied neither warriors nor funds for this attack. We salute the struggle of our brothers in Chechnya. We hold the Russian government responsible for the operation in Ossetia."

A suspect in the massacre has been arrested, and Russia did the "perp walk" today, parading the accused on national tv:

The suspect, who spoke on camera, proclaimed his innocence. "Of course I pitied the children, I swear to Allah. I have children myself. I didn't shoot. I swear to Allah," he said. "I don't want to die. I swear to Allah, I want to live."

In other actions, Russian officials have shown a degree of humility:

President Vladimir Putin, who made a surprising admission on national television of Russian weakness in the face of terrorists, declared two national days of mourning. Putin said the fall of the Soviet Union had left the country unable to react to attacks and promised to reform security forces. "We must create a much more effective system of security," he said. "We couldn't adequately react. ... We showed weakness, and weak people are beaten."

....The interior minister of North Ossetia, Kazbek Dzantiyev, submitted his resignation Sunday, saying he could not remain in office after the attack, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported. "After what happened in Beslan, I don't have the right to occupy this post as an officer and as a man," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

< Weekend Reading | Young Republican Kicks Female Protester >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: