Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 16

Have U.S. troops captured Chechen irregulars fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? Vague reports to that effect have circulated in various media, but the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House have so far declined either to confirm or to deny them. One government spokesman told Jamestown that the question has “nothing to do with advancing the mission” of the U.S. military in Iraq.

One would think that in a free and democratic polity, citizens would be entitled to know at least the national identities of those whom our troops are fighting–though not necessarily detailed tactical information which may be sensitive for security reasons. Some Muslim countries and regions have been rich sources of enemy combatants, others not. The difference is a fact of public importance which ought to be publicly known, especially if we want to avoid a bloody “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam as a whole. Jamestown has yet to hear a credible justification for concealing that fact.