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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop On the Events in Beslan Gennady Kovalenko Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences The causes, course, and consequences of the terrorist act in Beslan are being discussed both within Russia and beyond its borders. Analysts in the media are expressing the most varied and at times directly contradictory judgments, lessons, and conclusions on what happened. Today it would be premature to issue final assessments of the events in Beslan without waiting for the results of the work of the parliamentary commission investigating the causes and circumstances of the terrorist act in North Ossetia or the conclusion of the investigation on the criminal case that has been opened by the General Prosecutor’s Office. Therefore, these tragic events may be analyzed and certain conclusions drawn only in preliminary fashion. THE OPERATIONAL SITUATION PRIOR TO THE TRAGEDY IN BESLAN The events in Beslan bring to mind the seizure of hostages at the theater in Moscow in October 2002 (during a performance of Nord-Ost). These two major terrorist acts have a certain similarity: They involved the taking of massive numbers of hostages, numerous fatalities, and destruction of the terrorists. Those who carried out the terrorist acts in both cases put forth intentionally unacceptable demands for the withdrawal of federal forces from Chechnya in an attempt to compel the Russian leadership to enter into talks with the leaders of the Chechen militants. Both terrorist acts shook all of Russian society and once again drew world public attention to the actions of the Chechen fighters. It is no accident that a Chechen Web site called the terrorist act in Beslan Nord-Vest. The Nord-Ost seizure marked a change in the tactics of the Chechen terror-
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop ists. In fact, it was the first major terrorist act carried out by members of the so-called Riyadus Salihiin scouting and sabotage battalion created by Shamil Basaev (in Arabic, “Riyadh as-Salihiin” means “gardens of the righteous”). Among the activities of this group was the training of suicide fighters. The battalion was assigned the task of waging mine warfare and carrying out acts of sabotage in Chechnya and other Russian regions involving suicide bombers. Approximately 150 young men and young women were selected for the battalion and consecrated as so-called suicide fighters. In creating such an important-sounding group, Basaev was pursuing another goal, namely raising the status of the Chechen terrorists and consequently increasing their funding from abroad. They would be part of the international terrorist network and would assume their honorable place among similar world-famous organizations. Basaev even changed his name to the Arabic style— Abdullah Shamil Abu Idris. The majority of the most significant terrorist acts in 2003 were carried out by suicide bombers, or shahids. One of the main goals of the terrorist acts was to destroy the process of normalization of the North Caucasus situation and to have a negative impact on the population of primarily this region before the State Duma elections. In 2004 we saw a sharp increase in terrorism, culminating in the events in Beslan. It was the year of the Russian presidential election, so the results of Vladimir Putin’s first term as president were being summed up. The Chechen presidential election was also held in 2004, the very fact of which was supposed to consolidate the republic’s turn toward peaceful life. This was also the year of the sixtieth anniversary of the deportation of the peoples of the Caucasus, and the Chechen fighters marked such important dates with bloody acts. However, there are also other reasons for the increased activities of the terrorists. The numerous terrorist acts, sabotage, murders, and abductions they carried out in 1998–2004 did not lead to any politically significant results. This could not but evoke serious complaints against the leaders of the bandit groups on the part of the foreign sponsors financing their activities. To prove their professional suitability, Basaev and Aslan Maskhadov had to carry out a series of particularly major terrorist acts. In Moscow on February 6, 2004, there was a powerful explosion on a subway train car between the Paveletskaya and Avtozavodskaya stations, in which 39 people were killed and about 350 passengers were wounded, of whom 122 were hospitalized. According to the initial findings of the investigation, the terrorist act was carried out by a suicide bomber. On May 9, 2004, during a holiday concert at Dynamo Stadium in Grozny, an explosive device was detonated. It was later learned that the device had been placed during construction and repair work at the stadium. Seven people were killed in this terrorist act, including Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov and Chechen State Council Chairman Khusein Isaev. Colonel-General Valery
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop Baranov, commander of the joint group of forces in the North Caucasus, was seriously wounded, and 73 others were also injured. Basaev soon claimed responsibility for the terrorist act. In June through August of 2004, an unprecedented series of terrorist acts posed an urgent question for the Russian authorities regarding the need to intensify the total struggle against terrorism. The terror escalation began with an armed raid by Chechen bandit formations into Ingushetia. On the night of June 21–22, more than 300 fighters under the command of Shamil Basaev took control of Nazran and Karabulak for several hours. They simultaneously attacked the local headquarters of the Federal Security Service, the special purpose police brigades (OMON), and interior ministry troops and practically destroyed the Nazran Region police station. They seized equipment from the supply facility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Karabulak, which held hundreds of weapons and tens of kilograms of explosives. After setting up checkpoints on the roads, the fighters searched passing vehicles and shot on sight all members of law enforcement and the military. On the morning of June 22, after loading more than 600 weapons and explosives into their vehicles, the fighters headed toward the Chechen border. During the raid, more than 100 people were killed, including senior officials from the local Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ingushetian public prosecutor’s office. The action in Nazran revealed substantial shortcomings in the regional government system and a lack of effective coordination among local law enforcement agencies and the federal forces deployed in the Caucasus. A subsequent investigation uncovered instances in which the bandits were aided by several members of the Ingushetian police force. As later events showed, the attack on the Ingushetian cities was a sort of scouting mission, a preparatory stage in a preplanned series of bloody terrorist acts, the number of victims from which would be comparable with U.S. losses on September 11, 2001. On August 21, the fighters carried out a bold operation against federal forces in Grozny. About 300 armed bandits set up checkpoints on the roads and for three hours attacked police stations in various districts of the city and fired on polling stations. When darkness fell, the fighters left. According to information from local government officials in the Oktyabrsky and Staropromyslovsky districts of the Chechen capital, combined fatalities among federal troops, the police, and the local population totaled 78. At least 25 fighters were killed during the operation, and some of those killed were carried away by the bandits. It has been established that the raid on Grozny was led by Brigadier General Doku Umarov, who had been one of the organizers of the recent attack on Ingushetia. In Moscow on August 24, a bombing at a bus stop on Kashirskoe Shosse left four people injured. It was only due to luck that no one was killed in the incident. A terrorist attack on the night of August 24–25 caused two Russian airliners that had departed from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport to crash only a few minutes
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop apart. A total of 90 people were killed, including all the passengers and crew. According to materials gathered during the investigation, the planes were blown up by two Chechen suicide terrorists, who together with two other Chechens arrived at Domodedovo on August 24 on a flight from Makhachkala. The investigation established that the terrorist acts were facilitated to a significant extent by shortcomings in the flight security system. Cases of corruption on the part of individual airport employees were also uncovered. Not long after, on the evening of August 31, a female terrorist suicide bomber carried out the next act of terror near Moscow’s Rizhskaya Metro Station, in which 10 people were killed and about 50 wounded. The yield of the explosive device was equivalent to 1.5–2.0 kilograms of TNT. The plane crash incidents led to the first international investigation. An announcement appeared on a little-known Arabic Web site that a certain Islamist group, the Islambullah Brigades, had claimed responsibility for bombing both planes. However, a preliminary investigation showed that the terrorist acts in Moscow and on both planes were planned and carried out by members of the so-called Karachai jamaat, Muslim Society Number 3. The group is headed by terrorist Achimez Gochiyaev, wanted in regard to the Moscow apartment building bombings of 1999 and currently in hiding in the Republic of Georgia. A cellular phone found on the terrorist killed at the Rizhskaya Metro Station continued receiving calls from the Georgian Pankisi Gorge even after her death. The culmination of the massive attacks by terrorists came with the events of September 1–3, 2004, in North Ossetia. THE COURSE OF EVENTS IN THE BESLAN TRAGEDY How did events develop in Beslan? On September 1, 2004, a group of terrorists seized Beslan’s School Number 1, taking more than 1,200 hostages, including students, their parents and relatives, and teachers. Unfortunately the law enforcement agencies and units of other related structures had no warning that this terrorist act was being planned. The organizer of this terrorist act was Shamil Basaev. His Ingushetian colleague Magomet Yevloev led the group of fighters, and the action was financed by al Qaeda’s representative in Chechnya, Abu Omar. According to available information, Aslan Maskhadov participated directly in planning the operation. Many fighters who took part in the school seizure did not know one another and were told of the plan for the terrorist act just before they left for Beslan. The hostages got the feeling that the terrorists were blindly carrying out someone’s plan to seize the school but did not know what to do after that. According to information that has been received, the bandits spoke several times by telephone with unknown parties in Middle Eastern countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates. It has been established that the group of terrorists entered the city in two
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop vehicles traveling from the direction of the village of Khurikau, Mozdok Region, in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, which is 30 kilometers from the administrative border with Ingushetia. The terrorists brought all of their weapons, equipment, and explosive devices with them. The story that weapons had supposedly been hidden in the school in advance during renovation work over the summer has not yet been confirmed. After receiving an alarm that hostages had been seized, local police personnel blocked off access to the school. Additional police forces, units from the Russian Interior Ministry troops and armed forces, and emergency medical personnel subsequently arrived on the scene. Units from the Special Purpose Center of the Russian Federal Security Service were immediately sent to Beslan from Khankala, Yessentuki, and Moscow. An operational headquarters under the command of North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov was established by order of the government of the Russian Federation to directly manage the counter-terrorist operation. After beginning its work, the operational headquarters issued orders to strengthen the first and second blockade perimeters around the area of the school and to evacuate residents of nearby homes. The operations zone was cordoned off by units from the armed forces and interior troops from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and forces from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of North Ossetia. In the cordoned-off area and surrounding zone, targeted work was carried out to find accomplices of the terrorists. The necessary measures were taken to determine the exact number of hostages. To this end, the local authorities conducted the necessary surveys of relatives, neighbors, and other persons who might provide such information. An evaluation of the situation on site indicated its extreme complexity. The hostages had been divided into groups and placed in various parts of the school. A large number of people were gathered in the gymnasium. Groups of 100 or more hostages were located in other school buildings. All of the locations where the children and adults were being held had been mined by the terrorists. From an analysis of information on the system by which the mines had been laid at the school, authorities concluded that it would be practically impossible to disarm the devices because they were equipped with a dual-control system. Furthermore, if the terrorists lost control over the mine system, the detonation command would be given not intentionally but automatically. The death of the terrorists who were keeping the device control chain open would inevitably lead to the detonation of all the explosive devices. The terrorists had constructed the system so as to kill the maximum number of hostages and special forces personnel if they attempted to undertake any actions by force. The terrorists used 14 homemade shrapnel bombs and 4 antipersonnel bounding fragmentation mines. They had in their possession 8 reactive grenade launchers, 6 Shmel (Bumblebee) infantry flamethrowers, and 17 hand grenades.
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop It has been established that a significant number of the terrorists were under the influence of narcotics, and their actions were difficult to predict. According to available information, they had used so-called military narcotics, which later allowed even several wounded fighters to continue active armed resistance. The criminals limited all contacts with the outside world and for a long time avoided negotiations. They did not use any means of communications so as not to give the relevant security services an opportunity to intercept their transmissions. It was rather difficult to obtain information on the situation inside the school or the actions of the terrorists. Immediately after the seizure of the school, the terrorists began shooting some of the hostages and at times engaged in random gunfire, in this way trying to provoke the special forces units into taking forcible action. In all, 21 people were killed in the first day of the terrorist act. Information coming into the operational headquarters attested to the extremely difficult situation for the hostages, who were being denied food and water. Taking this into account, the operational headquarters considered various scenarios by which events might develop. They did not rule out the possibility of the mass annihilation of the hostages by the terrorists, who might subsequently attempt to escape. If this were to happen, a special plan of actions by the special forces was created. However, because of the way the situation developed over time, operational headquarters realized that it would be impossible to avoid massive casualties among the hostages if the plan were to be carried out. Proceeding on this basis, the operational headquarters focused its primary efforts on negotiating with the terrorists with the aim of freeing and saving the maximum possible number of people. In the initial phase of the negotiations, the headquarters called in the mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of North Ossetia, but the terrorists refused to speak with him or with other muftis invited from Ingushetia and Chechnya. The attempts of the well-known pediatrician Leonid Roshal to establish stable contact with the terrorists also failed. Also involved in the negotiations were former Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev and well-known entrepreneur Mikhail Gutseriev. The participation of these individuals brought about somewhat more active contacts with the terrorists. As a result of negotiations involving Ruslan Aushev, the terrorists freed 26 hostages (13 children under two years of age and their mothers) on September 2. Meanwhile, measures were being taken to determine the identities of the terrorists and locate their relatives and close connections for use in the negotiation process. Thus the wife and three children of Iznaur Kodzoev, one of the terrorists, were brought to Beslan. Kodzoev’s wife recorded a video appeal to the terrorists asking them to free the children being held hostage. Kodzoev categorically refused and declared his intention to kill any relatives who might attempt to negotiate with him. The operational headquarters also considered the possibility of exchanging the hostages for detained participants in the armed attack on Ingushetia in June
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop 2004 or of paying the terrorists a monetary ransom and providing them with transportation and the opportunity to escape unimpeded into Chechnya. It should be noted that the terrorists were not eager to participate in the negotiations and made practically no demands. Through Aushev they passed along intentionally unacceptable demands supposedly on behalf of Basaev, namely to “grant sovereignty to Chechnya and remove federal troops from it.” The terrorists named Maskhadov as a possible interlocutor in the negotiations. The operational headquarters attempted to communicate with him; however, Maskhadov did not make contact. The addition of Russian presidential aide Aslambek Aslakhanov to the negotiation process gave rise to certain hopes for its positive continuation. After noon on September 3, an agreement was reached with the terrorists on the removal from the school building of the bodies of the hostages killed, and a group of four individuals from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations approached the school in a truck. At that moment, two explosions occurred in the gymnasium where some of the hostages were being held. The gymnasium was partially destroyed and a fire broke out. The exact cause of the explosions has yet to be established. According to information from several hostages, the terrorists were in a state of drug intoxication, and that may be why they lost control of the explosive devices, which were automatically detonated. In the panic that broke out after the explosions, some of the hostages made their way out of the school building and attempted to run. The terrorists opened deadly fire on the fleeing women and children. In this situation the headquarters ordered troops from the Special Purpose Center of the Russian Federal Security Service to advance on the school in order to evacuate the hostages and eliminate the terrorists’ firing positions. The approach to the building was made under heavy fire from the militants. The process of advancing to initial positions and suppressing the terrorists’ firing positions was complicated by the actions of local residents armed with guns, who had broken through the cordon and randomly opened fire in the direction of the school. Freeing the hostages and destroying the terrorists took more than 10 hours. This was associated with the presence of a large number of wounded hostages in the school. Personnel from the Special Purpose Center had to render them urgent assistance and evacuate them from the school. Defending themselves, the terrorists dispersed and, using children and other hostages as human shields, waged an intense armed resistance. During the battle, personnel from the Special Purpose Center devoted greater attention to saving the hostages than to destroying the terrorists. Thus the special units suffered heavy losses: 10 of their personnel were killed and 41 suffered wounds and contusions. A total of 330 people were killed in the terrorist act in Beslan, including 186 children (172 according to other information), and more than 700 people were seriously wounded. All of the bodies of those killed have been identified, of
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop whom 81 (including 54 children) were identified as a result of molecular genetic analysis. A total of 31 terrorists were killed during the military clash, and 17 of them have been identified. According to a statement from the operational headquarters, none of the terrorists managed to hide. One of them was arrested. He was Nur-Pasha Kulaev, a native of the village of Seyasan, Nozhai-Yurt Region, in the Chechen Republic. Information published in several media outlets (particularly in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda) purporting that 52 fighters participated in the school seizure and that one female suicide bomber was taken alive have turned out to be incorrect. The newspaper later printed an appropriate retraction. According to information from the office of the general prosecutor for the North Caucasus, an Ingushetian resident has been arrested under suspicion of aiding the terrorists during preparations for the attack on the population centers in the Republic of Ingushetia on June 21–22, 2004, and for the terrorist act in Beslan. During the operational investigation on the criminal case filed by the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office regarding the school seizure and murders of the hostages, it has been established that Basaev directly planned the attack. According to preliminary information, some of the terrorists were members of the terrorist group Riyadus-Salihiin. The group included individuals from Chechnya and Ingushetia and mercenaries from Arab countries. The investigation has now managed to determine the identities of 17 of the terrorists killed, including their leader, Ruslan Khuchbarov, a native of the village of Galashki in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and an Ingushetian by nationality. From the investigation of this criminal case, five local police officers have also been accused of negligence. According to a recent report from a representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office, six individuals suspected of aiding the terrorists have been arrested. CONCLUSIONS The events in Beslan, the armed terrorist attacks against Ingushetia and Grozny in the summer of 2004, and the terrorist acts in Moscow are all part of the unified strategy of the ideologues of international terrorism, namely to expand their influence as widely as possible, create an atmosphere of universal fear, cause the population to distrust the capabilities of the government, and to force its leaders to enter into negotiations with the leaders of the bandit formations. The situation in the North Caucasus remains rather complex, as shown by 2004’s series of terrorist acts. The leaders of the Chechen fighters are making focused efforts to spread instability not only to Chechnya but also to the majority of adjoining territories.
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop Chechen bandit formations, which by various accounts number 2,000 to 3,000 members, of whom about 200 are foreigners, have lost the capacity to wage wide-scale military operations, but they continue their bandit tactics of inflicting appreciable blows on the federal forces and local law enforcement agencies, actions that also produce casualties among the civilian population. Bombings of transportation facilities and vehicles continue, along with shootings of military and law enforcement personnel. Active use is being made of the infrastructure the terrorists have created—bases; caches of weapons, hardware, and ammunition; and accomplices among the local population. It should be noted that this is not the first time that North Ossetia has been the target of terrorist attacks. More than 10 terrorist acts have been carried out here in the past five years. The most severe among them were the bombing of the central market in the city of Vladikavkaz (March 1999, 53 people killed and 168 wounded), the bus explosion carried out by a female suicide bomber (June 2003, 19 victims), the bombing of the Mozdok Hospital (August 2003, 50 killed), and others. This is no accident. The republic has a key position in the North Caucasus. With its majority Orthodox population, North Ossetia has experienced practically no internal interethnic problems in recent years. Tensions have remained on the border with Ingushetia, along with the conflict in Tskhinvali. In this regard, one of the goals of the terrorist act in Beslan was to cause new clashes between Ossetians and Ingushetians and open a sort of second front in the North Caucasus. The events of 2004 showed that Chechen fighters have a certain base of accomplices in the region. Assistance provided to the terrorists by individual local residents is an acute problem that seriously complicates the struggle against the bandit formations. One reason for this negative phenomenon lies in the firm familial and clan ties that link entire villages and regions. However, the fundamental factor destabilizing the situation is the extremely low standard of living of the local population. Payments for aiding the fighters often represent a person’s only source of income. As the Russian leadership has acknowledged, the economic picture in the North Caucasus region remains pitiful, and therefore it is simultaneously a victim of the bloody terror and a platform for its replication. The roots of terrorism lie in massive unemployment and the lack of an effective social policy. In particular, graphic evidence of this may be found in many statistical indictors on the Southern Federal District, which are significantly lower than both Russian averages and development indicators for other federal districts. For instance, the gross regional product per capita is only 53 percent of the Russian average and from 30 to 71 percent of the same figure for other federal districts. Rates of increase for basic capital investments also lag significantly behind statistical averages. Moreover, the Southern Federal District has practically the highest proportion of completely worn out or obsolete fixed assets, especially in
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop such industries as agriculture, construction, and transportation. Further evidence of the region’s economic crisis may be found in the fact that average per capita income is 34.5 percent lower than for Russia on the whole, while the average monthly salary is 69 percent of the Russian level and 50 to 71 percent of the level in other federal districts. The unemployment rate in the Southern Federal District is two to five times higher than in other districts (the number of unemployed comprises 35 percent of the total number of unemployed in the entire country). In Ingushetia, 72 percent of the able-bodied population is unemployed (according to an interview with Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov). All of this ultimately creates the preconditions for social dissatisfaction and mistrust of the authorities and reduces the effectiveness of antiterrorist measures, something in which the leaders of the bandit formations have a great interest. The local authorities undoubtedly bear a significant share of responsibility for the serious socioeconomic situation in the region. The events in Beslan and the results of the earlier armed raids on Nazran and Grozny revealed significant shortcomings in the regional administrative system along with departmental disconnections and a lack of effective coordination among local law enforcement agencies and the federal forces deployed in the Caucasus. Although the results of the work of the parliamentary commission investigating the terrorist act in Beslan will be presented no earlier than March 2005, the commission’s leaders have already announced several preliminary conclusions that have been published in Russian media outlets. For instance, in the opinion of the commission’s chair, Vice Speaker of the Federation Council Aleksandr Torshin, one of the main causes of the tragic events in North Ossetia was the irresponsibility of local bureaucrats at various levels, who were incapable of making independent decisions and could only await instructions from Moscow. The commission had serious complaints regarding the law enforcement agencies, who were unable to coordinate their activities in this emergency situation. They found themselves unprepared for the scenario by which events developed in Beslan, and the operation to free the school occurred in spontaneous fashion, particularly in its initial stage. Many serious mistakes were made. The commission uncovered cases of corruption in the work of the republic’s law enforcement agencies. Four participants in the terrorist act in Beslan had previously been detained by the local police but were later released without justification. One of these four bandits, Mairbek Shabikhanov, was arrested as a participant in an attack on a federal troop column that involved numerous casualties. He was accused under three articles: banditry, illegal possession of a weapon, and murder. However, on July 7, 2004, he was acquitted on all counts by a jury in the Republic of Ingushetia. Almost immediately after he was freed, Shabikhanov and his suicide bomber wife set off for Beslan. The reason behind such a strange verdict was found in familial ties, which permeate all local agencies, including the law enforcement system. Clear oversights were discovered in the work of the law enforcement agencies of Ingushetia, which should have
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop known about the existence in their republic of a training camp for the fighters who later seized the school in Beslan. In the commission’s opinion, the lack of the appropriate reaction by the authorities to the previously committed terrorist acts had a very harmful influence on the development of the situation in the region. No one took personal responsibility for the attempted assassination of Ingushetia’s leader Murat Zyazikov in March 2004, the murder of Akhmad Kadyrov in May, or the attack on Nazran on June 21. Only the actions of the special forces personnel merited a positive evaluation from the commission, although certain criticisms were also addressed to their leaders, who did not manage to consider all possible options for the development of the situation. The events of last year show that despite the terrorist acts, which involved significant casualties, the struggle against the terrorist network in the North Caucasus is gradually achieving its goals, although far more slowly than we would like. The terrorists have not managed to achieve the goals they set for themselves. The terrorist act in Beslan did not lead to the outbreak of an Ossetian-Ingushetian conflict. The Chechen terrorists are already incapable of engaging in wide-scale military conflict with the federal forces and are increasingly targeting facilities in the educational and sociocultural spheres and the transportation infrastructure, where minimal efforts and expenditures will lead to maximum results—numerous casualties among the civilian population. It must be noted that the terror escalation in 2004 was accompanied by the rise of ideological extremism. Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Karachaevo-Cherkessia saw increased activities on the part of Wahhabist jamaats, which serve as suppliers of new fighters for illegal armed formations. In a number of regions of the country, law enforcement agencies have discovered cells of the well-known extremist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. The expanded export of radical ideologies to Russian territory has been noted recently (analogous processes are also occurring in other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States). Extremist organizations (mainly carriers of the ideas of radical Islam) are making persistent efforts to spread ideas of an openly subversive nature among the population, especially among the youth. Against this backdrop, one may see a clear ideological passivity on the part of both state and public institutions with regard to using information to counter the spread of extremist ideas, especially radical Islam. The destructive influence of these ideas on certain segments of the population that have been unable to find a place for themselves in new socioeconomic conditions has been clearly underestimated. Financial support from various international terrorist and extremist organizations is another no less significant source for the activism of the organizers and executors of acts of terrorism and sabotage. The terrorist acts of last year showed that for the majority of terrorists, committing these bloody crimes is only business.
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop In 2004, law enforcement agencies obtained the latest specific materials on the financing of the activities of Chechen fighters by foreign sponsors. For instance, the Arab mercenary Abu al-Walid, the main distributor of funds sent to Chechnya by various foreign organizations (subsequently liquidated by federal forces) received $4.5 million in February 2004 for the Moscow metro attack alone. A foreign mercenary arrested in Dagestan in 2004 who, as later became clear, had ties with certain foreign government agencies, confirmed in the course of interrogation the existence of close business contacts between the leaders of the Chechen bandit formations and al Qaeda, as well as al Qaeda financing of terrorist activities in the North Caucasus. In early 2005 the personal archives of the terrorist Abu Kuteiba were discovered in Chechnya. Abu Kuteiba, who is of Arabic origin, was involved in financing terrorist activities in Russia from abroad. With the help of the financial documentation that was seized, it was possible to trace the path by which money was sent to carry out terrorist acts, including through the purchase of weapons, payments to fighters for specific terrorist acts, payments of transportation expenses, and so forth. MEASURES TAKEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE EVENTS IN BESLAN The tragedy in Beslan required federal government agencies to undertake a wide range of administrative, legislative, economic, and other measures. On September 13, 2004, the president of the Russian Federation issued Decree No. 1167 on Urgent Measures to Improve the Effectiveness of the Struggle against Terrorism. Under this decree the Russian government, the Ministry of Defense, and law enforcement agencies were assigned the task of developing a set of measures to improve state policy for ensuring the security of the Russian Federation and intensifying the struggle against terrorism. Administrative Measures Soon after the Beslan tragedy, Dmitry Kozak was appointed plenipotentiary representative of the Russian president to the Southern Federal District and given additional authorities. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation Ministry of Regional Development was created by presidential decree, and former plenipotentiary representative to the Southern Federal District Vladimir Yakovlev was named as its head. The Commission on the Coordination of the Activities of Federal Executive Branch Agencies in the Southern Federal District was established on orders from the president. As a component of the overall crisis management system developed by the presidential administration, the commission was created to prevent
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop and suppress terrorist acts and to detect and eliminate the causes and conditions that allow them to be planned and carried out. From analysis of the situation in the North Caucasus, the country’s political leadership concluded that the system for civilian, military, and law enforcement management in the region was insufficient to meet the terrorist challenges and therefore undertook a radical restructuring of that system. Operational antiterrorism management groups have been created under the auspices of the antiterrorist commissions in all regions of the Southern Federal District. These groups are headed by 12 officers from the interior troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who have been accorded the status of deputy chairs of the above-mentioned commissions. They have been assigned the task of coordinating the efforts of all military and law enforcement structures represented in the members of the Russian Federation to counter the terrorist threat. In accordance with Decree No. 1167, the government, in cooperation with military and law enforcement agencies, has prepared recommendations on improving the system for coordination of forces and resources involved in resolving the situation in the North Caucasus. Legislative Measures The State Duma has created a Commission on the Problems of the North Caucasus, and its scope of responsibilities will primarily include the region’s socioeconomic problems. A joint commission of the Federation Council and the State Duma has also been established to study the terrorist act in Beslan, and it is headed by Federation Council Deputy Chair Aleksandr Torshin. In cooperation with the government, the legislators must review and ratify a package of measures developed to combat terrorism, which impact more than 40 existing laws. Their first tasks include creating a unified legal base for the struggle against terrorism, radically changing the ways in which all the intelligence services interact, and expanding their powers. In particular, the package of bills includes a change in the Law on Combating Terrorism. The events in Beslan showed that the vagueness of certain provisions in the existing law has a negative impact on the effectiveness of operations to render terrorists harmless. The law does not clearly stipulate who should be responsible for leadership of the military and law enforcement structures in situations like the Beslan attack. One of the goals of the law is to give the authorities and the law enforcement and military structures a legal base that will make it possible to minimize losses of not only time but also results. This draft federal law strengthens the legal foundations for countering terrorism, including not only the grounds, conditions, and procedures for carrying out measures to combat terrorism but also a range of measures of a political, socioeconomic, informational-promotional, organizational, and legal nature related to counter-terrorism activities in general. One of the conceptual provisions of this bill is that it is significantly focused on the prevention of terrorism in all its forms and
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop manifestations, with the understanding that this activity will involve practically all government agencies, which is one of the principal aspects by which it differs from the existing law. An important new feature in the bill is its introduction of the concept of terrorist danger. It defines terrorist danger and the conditions and procedures for instituting a terrorist danger regime, and measures that can be taken in the zone in which such a regime is in effect. Another aspect of a conceptual nature is that the bill proposes a solution for a long-standing problem with the legality of the participation of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in counterterrorist operations. The bill establishes the legal foundations for their participation in such operations, and it defines the right to use weapons and military hardware in cases spelled out in the bill. The bill sets forth a clearly constructed system for managing counterterrorism efforts. Under ordinary circumstances, leadership and coordination of the activities of all entities involved in countering terrorism are the responsibility of the antiterrorist commissions, but from the moment a terrorist danger regime is instituted or a decision is made to conduct counterterrorist operations, leadership of all forces and resources of all counterterrorist entities is assigned to agencies of the Federal Security Service. Passage of the new Law on Countering Terrorism will undoubtedly help to make the struggle against terrorism more effective and to ensure the security of the Russian Federation. Measures of an Economic Nature The State Duma Commission on the Problems of the North Caucasus intends to create a Concept for the Development of the North Caucasus, which will include a comprehensive program of measures regarding the region’s economy. It will also call for the development of the transportation network, the Caspian ports, and hydroelectric power facilities; the strengthening of traditional agricultural sectors (viticulture, sheep raising, and so forth); the creation of new jobs by establishing assembly plants for enterprises in the Russian military-industrial complex; the expansion of the infrastructure for ecotourism in certain North Caucasus regions; and so on. The program will include recommendations on restructuring the debts of local enterprises and establishing preferential tax benefits for investment projects. The Russian government has prepared a program outlining specific measures to be carried out to rehabilitate the situation in Beslan, specifically including the construction of schools, hospitals, and other elements of the urban infrastructure. The president has assigned the government the task of developing a well-considered and effective policy for the Federal Center on the North Caucasus to resolve the region’s most urgent socioeconomic problems quickly.
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop In the Sphere of International Cooperation International terrorism has become a factor that is seriously destabilizing individual countries and regions and the world as a whole. Naturally the struggle against this evil can produce results only if effective international cooperation is established. In connection with last year’s terror escalation, the Russian leadership has proposed a further intensification of international cooperation in the struggle against the terrorist threat. At the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov announced a plan for combating the “global terrorist international,” which included a condemnation of countries that provide asylum to terrorists and their accomplices and sponsors. In the opinion of the Russian leadership, the struggle against terrorism must include the active participation of the main international organizations—the United Nations, the governing structure of the G-8, the Russia-NATO Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, and others. Within the context of international cooperation, I would like to mention the obvious relations of certain official representatives of Western countries with Chechen terrorists, who they often call rebels. After the latest major terrorist act in Russia, numerous condolences were received from abroad, the sincerity of which is difficult to doubt. However, last year the “minister of foreign affairs” of the underground government of so-called Ichkeria, Ilyas Akhmadov, received political asylum in the United States; “Vice Premier” and “Minister of Culture” Akhmed Zakaev lives quietly in England; “Minister of Health” Umar Khanbiev has been given shelter in France; and the “minister of social issues” receives a stipend from the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany. Of course, such differences in approach cannot seriously impede the fruitful process of struggle against this common evil. One example is today’s meeting. The need for further cooperation between Russia and the United States in countering the new terrorist threat is completely objective in nature. In particular, the closest cooperation is essential in such areas as improving the base of international laws on the struggle against terrorism and mechanisms for rendering mutual legal assistance (including the mutual extradition of terrorists and furtherance of the principle of certain punishment), closing down channels for the financing of terrorism, preventing weapons of mass destruction and means for their delivery from falling into the hands of terrorist groups, and strengthening controls over the trade in conventional weapons and explosives. To promote coordinated bilateral and multilateral actions, judging by the statements of Russian officials, Russia is prepared to move forward to the point of expanding operational exchanges of information and even conducting joint counterterrorist operations. As has been noted, including by U.S. experts, creation of a broad coalition is
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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop fundamentally important for success in the struggle against terrorism. Terrorism has now become one of the main threats to the security of the Russian Federation. In order to improve the effectiveness of counterterrorist activities, we must make a timely analysis of the experience amassed by other countries, specifically the United States, in the struggle against terrorism. In this regard, the recommendations on countering terrorism developed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission) may be of practical interest. They are outlined in the final report published by the commission in July 2004 on the results of its almost two years of work. The urgent need to analyze the recommendations and conclusions of this national counterterrorist commission and the forms of organization of its work are heightened in connection with the activities of the Russian Commission of Representatives of Both Chambers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Investigating the Terrorist Act in Beslan. The nature of the debates regarding preliminary information on the commission’s work indicates that answers along the lines of “Who is to blame?” or “Why did such a thing become possible?” are less pressing for the public than answers to the questions “What must be changed?” and “How can we prevent it?” We hope that the conclusions and recommendations will promote a successful resolution of the specific issues facing Russia.
Representative terms from entire chapter: