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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings The Role of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Combating Terrorism in Urban Conditions Sergey A. Starostin* All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs “We are entering a unique era of terrorism that could make all of modern society its potential victim.” These words, spoken more than 20 years ago by Joseph Alexander, head of the Institute of International Terrorism of the State University of New York, are being confirmed in full measure today.1 The events of September 11, 2001, in the United States and the bombings of apartment buildings in September 1999 and seizure of hostages in October 2002 in Moscow have already firmly convinced everyone that for modern society, terrorism has become a global threat, along with other various dangers to which mankind is subjected at the start of the third millennium. Indeed, modern terrorism is taking on new forms and features shaped by fast-moving processes under way in the high-technology sphere. Scientific and technical progress is giving rise to new varieties of terrorism. The appearance of such new concepts as biological, chemical, informational, radioelectronic, and environmental terrorism is no mere coincidence. The globalization of terrorism is evident in that it is the topic of discussion at numerous annual international conferences, an example of which is ours here today. Allow me to thank its organizers for inviting representatives of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) to take part. It would be a mistake to think that modern terrorism in Russia in all its most radical manifestations is the result solely of the reform of the previous state socioeconomic system and of the processes that have occurred in our country in recent years. Even in “stable” Soviet times, terrorist acts of rather broad impact were carried out in Russia. It is sufficient to recall the bombings in the Moscow subway * Translated from the Russian by Kelly Robbins.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings system in the winter of 1978. This was our first encounter with political terrorism, when the criminals aimed not only to attract attention to themselves but also to kill as many people as possible. The number of victims at that time was in the dozens. The next stage of radical manifestations of extremism concerns the most recent phase of Russian history. Following is an incomplete list of crimes committed in Moscow alone in the past five years that are classified as terrorism according to our laws: 1998: bombings at the Tretyakovskaya subway station (three wounded) and at a synagogue 1999: car bombings at the U.S. embassy and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) (2 wounded); bombings in the lobby of the Intourist Hotel (11 wounded), at the MVD, and at the shopping mall at Manezh Square (1 killed, 40 wounded); bombings of two apartment buildings on Guryanov Street and Kashirskoe Shosse (more than 200 killed, including 21 children) 2000: bombing in the underground pedestrian passageway at Pushkin Square (7 killed, 53 wounded) 2001: bombing at the Belorusskaya subway station (10 killed) 2002: detonation of a 122-mm fragmentation mine shell at a McDonald’s restaurant (1 killed, 7 wounded); seizure of hostages at the theater on Dubrovka Street (129 killed, of which 7 were foreign citizens) To this list of terrorist acts we should also add the bombings in Buinaksk and Volgodonsk, the bombing of the government building in Grozny, and others. Clearly, this situation in Russia and in our major cities is directly linked with processes under way in the south, especially in the Chechen Republic. This region is also the focal point of the majority of crimes of a terrorist nature. In predicting how the situation will develop, we should anticipate an increase in terrorism and certain directly associated crimes such as banditry. The increase in the number of serious and extremely serious crimes is a matter of considerable concern. The proportion of these crimes could reach 54.7 percent of all acts subject to criminal penalties. Insufficient sample size precludes us from making a reliable quantitative forecast for the crimes mentioned above. However, current growth trends point to the growing terrorist danger facing all citizens of the country (see Table 1). During the forecast period, the unbreakable criminological linkage between terrorism and crimes related to the illegal trade in narcotics and powerful psychotropic substances is evident. If the main channels through which drugs flow are not blocked, the volume of drug-related crime will increase substantially. We can expect that the registered number of drug-related crimes will grow by 26.3 percent in 2003 as compared with the level in 2002. Making a fundamental assessment of the growing crime threat, Russian Federation President Vladimir V. Putin said: “We are paying a heavy price both for
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings TABLE 1 Crime Forecast for 2003 2001 Growth (percent) 2002 2003 (forecast) Worst-Case Scenario Banditry –9.4 –13.1 26.5 Terrorism 142.2 10.1 30.6 Moderate Scenario Banditry –9.4 –12.5 11.6 Terrorism 142.2 15.3 19.0 Best-Case Scenario Banditry –9.4 –13.1 –3.2 Terrorism 142.2 10.1 7.5 the weakness of the state and for the inconsistency of our actions. Meanwhile, I would like to note and to emphasize that Russia will not make any deals with terrorists and will not be subjected to any sort of blackmail. International terrorism is becoming more brazen and operating in an increasingly savage manner. Terrorists are issuing threats to use means comparable to weapons of mass destruction. With a deep sense of responsibility, I would like to state that if anyone even attempts to use such means against our country, Russia will respond with measures adequate to meet the threat to the Russian Federation.”2 The threat presented by terrorism to all of civilization has already been recognized at the international level, and there are no grounds on which to expect that this threat will weaken or diminish anytime soon.3 Moreover, the intensification of the terrorist threat to Russia has given rise to the need to make well-founded changes in the national security strategy, specifically with regard to the possible use of the armed forces to eliminate hotbeds of international crime.4 The defining characteristic of the current operational situation in Russia is not only the reality that terrorist acts are being committed but also the constant threat that they will be carried out in the future. Here are a few examples. In the fall of 2002, Chechen fighters from the city of Urus-Martan and the village of Vedeno planned a terrorist act that was to be carried out in the city of Volgograd. The dam at the Volzhskaya State Regional Electric Power Station was selected as the target for sabotage. The terrorists planned to purchase explosives from Chechen servicemen in military units. The Chechen diaspora collected funds for this purpose. On August 26, 2002, internal affairs agencies received operational information on the planned terrorist act, which allowed them to prevent it from being carried out. On October 28, 2002, after the seizure of hostages at the theater on Dubrovka Street, the district department of internal affairs received information that there were 24 men and 6 women (representatives of Arab countries) in Moscow illegally who were involved with the commission of the terrorist act.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings It was also established that they intended to depart for the cities of Volgograd, Astrakhan, and Saratov in the near future to organize and carry out terrorist acts there as well. The flow of such information is not diminishing so far in 2003. We respond immediately to all calls from citizens (up to 500 per month), and we investigate them all, including false reports. These investigations involve onsite work not only by personnel from the local district internal affairs agencies but also by specialists from the field engineering unit and canine teams to check for the possible presence of explosives, bombs, and poisonous substances in unattended or suspicious objects. During the operations in 2002, we discovered 10.5 percent more crimes punishable under Statute 222 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (illegal acquisition, distribution, sale, storage, shipment, or possession of weapons, ammunition, or explosive substances or devices) than during the same period of the previous year. In Moscow alone, about 1,000 firearms were taken out of illegal circulation, more than half of them rifles, as well as several hundred military grenades and more than 10 kg of explosives. It should be noted that the increased criminal-terrorist threat throughout Russia has for the first time presented society with the question of how to minimize the consequences of terrorist acts for the civilian population. This is primarily a matter of prevention and immediate assistance to victims, deactivation of any devices or agents used, development of new means of protection, and education of the public in how to behave safely in terrorist threat situations.5 On the topic of preventing terrorism, it is impossible to overlook those important factors that in our view not only destabilize the operational situation in the country as a whole and in Moscow in particular but also give rise to crimes of a terrorist nature. The activities of extremist organizations and groups represent a serious factor in destabilizing the criminal situation in the country. This matter is especially urgent for our capital: There are more than 120 nationalities living in Moscow, people of the most varied political and religious convictions (more than 5,000 Chechens, more than 2,000 immigrants from Dagestan and Ingushetia). Each day, about 3 million people pass through the capital. On average days, approximately 100,000–150,000 vehicles pass through state road inspection checkpoints on entering the city. Up to 165 long-distance trains arrive at the capital’s nine railway stations each day, along with up to 1,950 local trains. There are more than 300 associations and religious denominations actively operating in the city, and by no means are all of them devoted to pacifist aims. According to our data, more than 1,000 religious groups and cults are conducting their destructive activities in Moscow, preaching fanaticism based on distorted spiritual and ethical canons (the Satan Society, White Brotherhood, Aum Shinrikyo, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Castrati, and many others). It should be noted that a number of religious structures are largely financed by extremist-oriented foreign organizations.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings Extremist organizations of a radical political orientation are also operating in the city, such as the People’s National Party, Russian Master, the Freedom Party, numerous groups of soccer fanatics, and so forth. The dangers presented by right- and left-wing political extremism should not be underestimated, nor should those arising from the most aggressive form of religious extremism, Wahhabism. These dangers must be evaluated realistically and adequate measures taken in a timely manner to suppress illegal activities. Here again, it is of primary importance to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, other government agencies, and various public associations empowered to deal with this problem. Passed in July 2002, the Federal Law on Countering Extremist Activity established the legal and organizational foundations for this activity and delineated the responsibilities of the agencies charged with its implementation. It must be noted that in the Russian Federation there is a division of functions in the effort to combat manifestations of terrorism. Countering political terrorism falls within the purview of the Federal Security Service, while suppressing criminal terrorism is the responsibility of the MVD. The MVD is pursuing a number of preventive measures to fight terrorism. Among the most effective are targeted preventive search operations (such as Vortex-Antiterror) aimed at locating individuals belonging to criminal groups of an extremist or terrorist orientation, members of illegal armed groups and their accomplices, and members of Muslim organizations and religious centers that are promulgating Wahhabism. Terrorism prevention efforts are under way daily and involve almost all the various service units of the MVD. Joint work is being carried out with Moscow’s municipal services agencies to seal off garrets and basements of apartment buildings and to check out rented apartments and other facilities in such buildings. Special attention is being paid to protecting and providing operational coverage for the city’s industrial sites and other facilities presenting a heightened danger. An algorithm of actions aimed at preventing terrorist acts and other extremist manifestations in locations where large numbers of citizens gather during major cultural events has been developed and is being applied in practice. The safety program designed for Moscow sports facilities during 2003–2006 calls for the acquisition and installation of modern video observation and monitoring systems, radio and cable communications hardware, and other means for technical control and examination. The total cost of the necessary equipment is 100 million rubles ($3.28 million). Units serving the Moscow subway system have also received orientation and training in antiterrorist operations. The fact that many millions of passengers use the system carries with it the danger of crime, including the possibility of terrorist acts. In view of the movements of an enormous number of people, many of whom are visitors to the capital, the crime situation in the subway
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings system compels the subway system police unit to operate in a state of constant readiness. The police road patrol service plays a special role in preventing terrorist acts in the capital. Its officers keep a 24-hour watch at state road inspection checkpoints and inspect the flows of cargo arriving in the capital. MVD units provide antiterrorism protection to facilities of special importance, those vital to life and welfare, and those presenting a heightened degree of danger (including heating and power stations, dams, and water pumping stations, which have active chemically dangerous substances stored on site). Many of the facilities have installed video cameras that are monitored at guard stations by enterprise security personnel. Special police emergency call systems have been installed at these facilities. Some of the sites are equipped with fire alarm systems linked to centralized alarm centers at local district units of the MVD. A wide-scale educational campaign has been launched to develop a sense of watchfulness among the population and instill basic habits of proper behavior during bomb threats. Police units are constantly providing the public and passengers with specially prepared reminders on what to do if they find unattended or suspicious objects. Similar training sessions have been organized for subway train operators and drivers from the various passenger transport enterprises. Created for terrorism prevention purposes, the antiterrorism automated search system facilitates the efficient exchange of information on the movements of persons of interest to us and the registration of members of extremist organizations. The sharp increase in the number of terrorist incidents in 1999 served as a warning signal that strategies and tactics for countering the advance of terrorism were in need of review. Even then, three years ago, it was noted that there had been some unfavorable qualitative changes in the structure of this type of violent crime. In particular, the overall proportion of attempts on the lives or health of people increased, with a complementary decrease in the share of crimes targeting material objects. Crimes became bigger in scope, being characterized by large numbers of human victims, and terrorists became increasingly brutal and brazen. Moreover, terrorist societies and groups received an expanded amount of informational, tactical, and mutual resource support. Political and criminal terrorism coalesced against a backdrop of convergence and cooperation of illegal and legal structures of an extremist nature with nationalist, religious separatist, fundamentalist, and other organizations on the basis of their mutually beneficial interests. Our prime task is to coordinate the antiterrorist activities of federal executive-branch agencies in their interactions with analogous agencies at the republic, oblast, and local levels and with enterprises, institutions, and organizations with the aim of increasing the efficiency of measures to discover, prevent, and suppress terrorist activities. In cooperation with other law enforcement agencies at the local and federal levels, the MVD is continuing to work actively towards further exposing the terrorist underground.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings It should be noted that scientific research on the circumstances in which terrorist acts are carried out, the personalities of terrorists, and so forth, plays a special role in preventing crimes of a terrorist nature. By analyzing acts of terrorism that have taken place, it is possible to arrive at several particular features or, if you will, laws of operation (see Figures 1–5). The diagrams graphically illustrate the facilities and individuals that should be the focus of top-priority preventive work, and this allows us to define the basic objectives this work should entail. The well-known events at the theater center on Dubrovka Street have forced us to increase our efforts to rid the capital’s economy of the “ethnic crime business.” In 2002 we uncovered more than 500 enterprises under various forms of ownership that were, according to operational data, involved in FIGURE 1 Distribution of terrorist acts committed in Russia by location. FIGURE 2 Distribution of bombings in Russia by type of explosive device used.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings FIGURE 3 Distribution of terrorists by age. FIGURE 4 Distribution of terrorists by number of previous convictions. FIGURE 5 Psychological characteristics of terrorists’ personalities.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings providing financial or other support to criminal groups composed of individuals from the North Caucasus region and the Caucasus republics. Already in 2003 we have discovered more than 200 commercial entities in Moscow that are controlled by Chechen, Dagestani, Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Georgian organized crime groups. The criminal groups mentioned above have a most negative effect on the operational situation in Moscow. In comparison with similar Slavic groups, these groups are the source of greater social and public danger. Relations within them are founded on familial and clan-based principles. Crimes in which they are involved are, as a rule, well organized, brutal, and unpredictable in nature. Furthermore, while criminal bombings carried out by Azerbaijani or Georgian organized crime groups are primarily a means of eliminating criminal business competitors, the situation with Chechen groups is different. In addition to the criminal component, we frequently see attempts to exert pressure on the political situation, to use terror to obtain changes in the federal government’s position on settlement of the Chechen crisis. There have been certain positive developments, specifically, in uncovering and cutting off flows of weapons, explosives, and narcotics into the capital. For example, on December 24, 2002, while investigating reports of the arrival in Moscow of Chechens aiming to carry out terrorist acts, our personnel in cooperation with colleagues from the FSB arrested two individuals from Chechnya and confiscated two suicide vests with explosives, military grenades, and a remote control device. On January 20, 2003, an ethnic crime group was arrested while bringing a large quantity of narcotics into Moscow. More than 40 kg of heroin was seized. I would now like to say a few words about our views of what we must accomplish in our efforts to fight terrorism. A unified database on extremist groups and their leaders must be created. Heavier administrative and criminal penalties should be established for those who participate in street riots and promote extremist means of political struggle. The political process should be monitored not only in Moscow but also in the various republics and oblasts that make up the Russian Federation (including small cities where the socioeconomic and ethnopolitical situations are strained). Guided by the experience of Israel, Spain, and other countries, a modern antiterrorist infrastructure should be formed, including the secret services, the media, public and religious organizations, the educational system, and the migration service. It would be expedient to set harsher punishment for illegally dealing in weapons and explosives and committing crimes involving the use of firearms in order to ensure that judicial proceedings for such criminal cases are appropriate to the danger they present to society.
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings In cooperation with the media, an information campaign should be organized to persuade the public to voluntarily surrender illegal weapons, explosives, and ammunition. The protection of dangerous facilities should be increased, perimeter barriers around them strengthened, and video monitoring, alarm, and control systems installed at their entrances and exits to facilitate immediate notification of the presence of weapons and explosives. A solution must be found to the question of creating centers in large cities to hold migrants who have been found to be in Russia illegally and who have been issued court orders for forcible removal from the Russian Federation. A mechanism for financing their deportations must also be worked out. Increased administrative penalties should be put in place for violations of passport and visa regulations in special status locations (republic and oblast capitals, regions where especially dangerous industrial facilities or atomic power plants are located, and so forth). All government agencies should increase their efforts to prevent and suppress commercial activities associated with the illegal trade in weapons, drugs, prostitution, and pornography; the illegal reproduction of information on computer disks or tapes; illegal operations involving foreign currency and antiques; and so forth, as all of these activities produce large profits that can be used to finance terrorists and extremists. Measures should be taken to identify enterprises and firms involved in organizing the illegal migration of foreign citizens. The activities of organizations and firms inviting foreign citizens from abroad should be monitored, especially if they involve citizens from countries that are militarily, politically, or economically unstable. Action should be taken to prevent the uncontrolled movement throughout the Russian Federation of individuals without identity papers and foreigners who refuse to leave the country when the authorized duration of their visit has expired. It would seem appropriate to increase the amount of funds available for rewarding citizens who assist internal affairs agencies in identifying and exposing individuals planning or committing terrorist acts and their accomplices. With the aim of controlling cargo shipments and preventing the possibility that weapons, explosives, and explosive devices might be transported to major cities along with agricultural or other products, special terminals equipped with monitoring equipment should be established at the city limits to inspect heavy freight vehicles (refrigerator trucks, semitrailers, and so forth). The following changes should be made in laws and regulations by various levels of government in the Russian Federation: Questions regarding arrest procedures, grounds for arrest, and pre-arraignment detention terms for persons suspected of committing terrorist acts or
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Terrorism: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Improving Responses - U.S.-Russian Workshop Proceedings serving as accomplices in such crimes should be considered. At present, individuals suspected of committing a crime can be detained for 48 hours, after which they must be formally charged and held or else released. Investigators spend most of this legally permitted period taking care of the various necessary procedural matters, such as preparing the arrest documents, securing a lawyer for the accused, and notifying the prosecutor’s office. It is unrealistic to expect that in the remaining time investigators will be able to gather evidence and decide whether the person in custody is guilty or not guilty. Given the degree of danger that terrorism presents to the public, it would seem expedient to temporarily establish special arrest procedures and detention terms for individuals suspected of planning to commit or participate in terrorist acts. The MVD, FSB, and Central Bank of Russia should be given expanded powers to institute tighter controls on the activities of individuals and legal entities involved in commercial operations, including those in the wholesale trade business, as well as controls on the use of funds by public organizations and their leaders and activists if operational information indicates that they are involved in financing terrorist activities. Internal affairs agencies should be notified when notarized general vehicle licenses are issued. NOTES 1. Terrorism in modern capitalist society. 1980. (2nd ed.). Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Scientific Information in the Social Sciences. p. 8. 2. See How to defeat terrorism. 2002. Ekspert 41, November 4. 3. On research in this field, see Terrorism—a general threat to security in the twenty-first century: An analytical report. 2001. Moscow: Center for Strategic Development. p. 20. 4. See Terror without borders? An answer will come. 2002. Rossiiskaya Gazeta 206, October 30. 5. The website www.crdf.org provides information on scientific research in the field of victimology.
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