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Caucasus: terror cradle? by Prof P L Dash

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Author:  Prof P L Dash

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has finally admitted to America’s role in creating jihadi terrorists to fight the former Soviet Union. It is part of the problem and should be a major part of the solution. That the jihad against the Soviet Union is continuing to plague the successor Russian Federation would not be the total picture. Caucasian killers have grown roots in the Afghan-Pak tribal belt and when Pakistan talks of killing “foreign terrorists” it usually refers to those of Caucasian origin of which the Chechens are hyperactive.

Caucasus: terror cradleCarnage returns to Moscow as evidenced by the mayhem at Domodedovo airport on January 24, 2011, which left 35 dead, around 300 injured and 20 battling for life. This gruesome attack is too outrageous and raises question marks about the efficacy of the Russian security system in place at such crowded transport hubs as airports, rail stations and metro. The roots of this terror lay once again in North Caucasus, where Russia has been battling Chechen rebels for nearly two decades. The attack is convincing enough about the tentacles of a terror network operating right from North Caucasus to Moscow and beyond.

International terrorism is a global phenomenon that affects all countries of the world, particularly after 9/11. Ever since Al Qaeda targeted the economic, political and military might of the United States by launching savage attack on the Pentagon, White House and the World Trade Centre, it is almost a decade since the world has been pulling all-out efforts to fight this menace. Two major powers of the world - USA and the Russian Federation - have been jointly fighting terror ever since Putin became the first world leader to have telephoned then US president George Bush soon after crash of the twin towers on 9/11/2001. But Russia’s trail of terror is a unique story, largely under-reported and mostly targeted at Moscow. However it certainly forms a part of global terror. Since the vast swathe of land constituting Russia and the CIS countries cannot be isolated from the fight against international terror, it is worthwhile addressing the core of Russian terrorism - the terror trails from the Caucasus because it is in the periphery of the Caucasus the interests of the US and Russia converge.

Cancerous growth

The autumn bombing of the Chechen parliament in Grozny shattered the tranquil of Caucasus, once again throwing open to debate the very issue of untamed terror, emanating from Chechnya and travelling right up to the Kremlin in Moscow. Two decades of persistent peace efforts by the Kremlin, alternating between peace, political mediations, negotiations, discussions, orchestrated pro-Moscow elections and use of brutal force by Russian security forces have yielded too little positive outcome to consider the Chechen issue finally resolved and the terror trail from there stopped. Time and again terror from Chechnya thrusts its ugly head at the Russians, forcing them to search for a remedy, largely unavailable. The parliament bombing reminds this writer of the gory event of Beslan, where school children were massacred on the reopening day of their school and parents laden with tears, were helplessly pleading with security forces to free their kids taken hostage by terrorists.

Communist terrain

The Islamic terrorists have brought Russia to its toes. Last year, Moscow had suffered five more blasts: two inside the Metro rapid transport system in Moscow at the Lubyanka and Park Kulturi stations and three blasts a day later in Dagestan. Had Moscow blasts taken place inside the running train and not on the platforms of stations, the impact of the blast could have been severe and casualties far more. The blasts occurred around the All Fool’s Day, as if the terrorists have befooled Russian security forces once again on that day. At 9 am in the morning as workers were rushing to their offices and work place, two suicide bombers went off in blaze, killing 38 people instantly and injuring scores of others, who were airlifted to nearby hospitals. The State did all it could to assuage the plight of the sufferers, providing them with medical care, giving compensations, tightening security drills to avert further blasts in Moscow and many usual police measures to stem the rot. Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev had visited the sites of the blasts, humbly kneeled before the memorial erected on the spots and prayed for the departed souls to rest in peace, while laying the wreaths. However, from laying wreaths to expressing wrath, it was a different president, who vented his resolve publicly by vowing to adopt harsh measures to combat terrorism in Russia, particularly those emanating from Caucasus and Central Asia and focusing on urban targets. The president’s determination is as telling as the unswerving resolve of teenaged terrorists, who wished to take revenge on the State for their husband’s killing by the Russian security forces in December, 2009.

Who are they?

The fact that one of the two suicide bombers - Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17 was a teenaged girl, who had become revengeful to carry out such a heinous attack at Lubyanka station near the FSB headquarters at the heart of Moscow, speaks volumes about how the terrorists’ tentacles must have spread between the time her husband, Umalat Magomedov, was killed on 31 December 2009 and now. One year plus is a small time to establish coordination required to carry out a blast, but now that it has taken place it would let us safely assume that the terrorists are deeply entrenched all across Russia and more particularly in Moscow, to do their act of jihad. Secondly, 17 years is no ripe age to be terrorists. They could be called babies of terror because they remind us of populist terrorist Sofiya Perovskaya, who had engaged in the Tsar killing mission against Alexander II of Russia in the 1860s or even that of Stephan Khalturin, a young soldier, who stockpiled tons of dynamite inside his personal Sandook to blow it off to kill the Tsar at appropriate time in the Winter Palace itself. It was then that the seeds of terrorism were sown in Russia and it was since, all through seventy plus years of Soviet rule, that dissent and terrorists’ plans have never dissipated from the Russian scene. When children become determined to take revenge, the situation assumes seriousness because a future generation of terrorists is already bred. Their grievances need to be addressed. Harsher measures will hardly yield tangible results. If at all they do they would quickly evaporate. The memory of harshness would continue to cast a longish shadow of sordid memorabilia as was the case with Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova in Dagestan.

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