Chechen rebel field commander Shamil Basaev released a statement yesterday in which he expressed, on behalf of his “mujahideen,” condolences to the relatives of those killed in the New York and Washington terrorist attacks. Chechens understood their pain, Basaev said, because “Russian rockets and bombs” have been inflicting similar pain on Chechnya “practically every day.” America, with its multi-million population, Basaev said, has lost 10,000 of its citizens, while Chechnya, with its population of a million, has lost 100,000. He said he was certain that Russia was behind the terrorist attacks on the United States, given that the purpose of the attack was “to discredit the idea of national missile defense and to deprive it [the United States] of superpower status.” Somewhat illogically, Basaev said that the attacks might also have been a consequence of Washington’s policies in the Middle East, adding: “Israel will prove too expensive for the United States” (Kavkaz.org, September 12).
The Kremlin, for its part, has also been busy spinning the events in New York and Washington, using them in its propaganda campaign against the Chechen rebels. Russia’s special services were reported as believing that the Islamic fundamentalist organization Jamaat-al-Islami may have been behind the attacks, given the “financial and organizational” capabilities of those who organized them. The Itar-Tass state news agency quoted Federal Security Service (FSB) experts as saying that Jamaat-al-Islami–which has its headquarters in Afghanistan and branches in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia–was connected to organizations involved in the bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities two years ago that killed 230 people. These specialists were quoted as saying both those attacks and this week’s in New York and Washington were aimed “intimidating the state and society” to achieve political goals. The FSB officials also said that Jamaat-al-Islami, given its financial and organizational resources, was capable of carrying out large-scale and coordinated terrorist attacks anywhere in the world. They also claimed that in 1996 Chechen rebel ideologist Movladi Udugov had publicly warned that the Chechen rebels might use kamikazes to fly a commercial airliner into the Kremlin (Itar-Tass, September 12). Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in an interview with CNN yesterday that Russia had no reliable information about who organized the attacks on New York and Washington. He added, however, that it could not be ruled out some of those fighting in Chechnya were in some way connected (Radio Ekho Moskvy, September 13).
NEMTSOV REJECTS NEGOTIATIONS TO END CHECHEN CONFLICT.