A unit of the Moscow-based, crack anti-terror force Alpha will be permanently deployed at Stavropol Territory’s Mineralnye Vody airport, the Territory’s chief prosecutor Yuri Luzhnikov announced last week. He added that local law-enforcement and security bodies will step up intelligence gathering and, in particular, the recruiting of ‘secret informers’ among the local population. According to Luzhnikov, these measures are necessitated by a "threat of Chechen terrorism," repeated airplane hijackings in the region, and generally from the Territory’s proximity to the "North Caucasus republics." (5)
The Mineralnye Vody airport is considered the airgate to the whole of North Caucasus. Alpha, formerly a KGB force, is currently a part of Russia’s Federal Security Service, directly subordinated to FSB chief, Col. General Mikhail Barsukov. In its only combat encounter with Chechen fighters thus far, Alpha was defeated in the attempt to storm the building captured by Shamil Basayev’s group during the raid in Budennovsk
New Armed Incident in Ingushetia.