Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 12

Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev warned in an interview published by Sweden’s TT news agency on March 21, which was also posted on the separatist Kavkazcenter website, that separatist fighters will carry out terrorist attacks against Russian targets both in Russian and in Qatar, where former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev was assassinated last year by Russian intelligence agents.

“The whole world is today willingly or unwillingly assisting in the genocide of our people, just by demanding that we observe certain rules,” Basaev said in reply to written questions the Swedish agency said it submitted by e-mail. “The situation is like that in a boxing ring where a boxer and a kick boxer are fighting. The referee, in the form of the world community, allows the kick boxer to kick, but the boxer is not allowed to use his feet even to block his opponent’s kick because there are no such rules in boxing. Many people understand that in order to survive and to triumph in this war you have to use the same weapons and use the same methods as your enemy. We must not try to please either the West or the East. We must be ourselves, clench our teeth and fight on, without looking to the sides.”

Basaev said the fact that there were no “major subversive activities” last autumn and this winter was due not to successful counter-measures by Russia’s special services but because the late Aslan Maskhadov had asked him to promise not to interfere with diplomatic efforts to end the war. “I have kept my word, although I have suffered losses as a result of my inaction,” he said. “Maskhadov is dead as a result of the insidiousness of the Rusists [a derogatory name for Russians] and because of his excessive desire for peace, and now I am free from my commitments.”

Asked whether he had any contacts with Osama bin Laden or other al-Qaeda members recently, Basaev reiterated that he has “never been acquainted with Bin-Ladin” and has had “no contact with him, although I would very much like to meet him.” He added: “One thing I know for certain is that he cannot fundamentally be a villain because his face gives out a strong light in all the photographs which I have been lucky enough to see. From my own experience, I know that America and Rusnya love to decide who the guilty people are and not allow them even to say a word t to justify themselves. An example of this is the story of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam, whose overthrow I always supported, but not for the benefit of America, but because I saw in this advantage for the Muslims.”

Basaev claimed in a statement posted on the Kavkazcenter website on March 18 that Maskhadov was killed not because he was betrayed but because Russia’s special services tracked him down through his phone calls after tricking him into use his phone repeatedly by inviting him to enter into negotiations. “Everyone knows how much Aslan strived to stop the war,” Basaev said. “In general, he began to work in that direction, and roughly from that moment Maskhadov began to use the telephone actively. In situations where it was necessary to receive more operational information from the representatives abroad, he used the telephone, calling his representatives. He often communicated with the mujahideen military units in the mountains. At first he was cautious and drove out of the village [to make calls] but later received calls at home and even made calls from home…They often sent SMS messages. I often asked him to at least call from the town, but he wanted to speak from where he was, and I couldn’t do anything. Generally speaking, they established his location through his phone, and there wasn’t a betrayal.”