Doubts Raised About Chechens Reported In Pakistan

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 12

Once again we are seeing vague reports in the mainstream media about “Chechens” having been captured among al Qaeda terrorists, this time in northwestern Pakistan. But as this issue of Chechnya Weekly goes to press, not one of the gunmen captured or killed by Pakistani soldiers in recent fighting has been specifically, positively identified as a Chechen.

On March 22 the Associated Press reported that the Pakistani military had shown journalists the bodies of five young men said to be foreigners, but it was impossible for the journalists to determine their nationality. The AP article by Ahsanullah Wazir noted that Pakistani officials “said their prisoners included Pakistanis, Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks and ethnic Uighurs from China’s predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province. They added it is difficult to distinguish the foreigners from locals, as they have often lived in the region for a long time and speak the local Pashto language.”

Agence France-Presse quoted a Pakistani military spokesman on March 22 as saying that the captives from recent operations on the northwest frontier “are a mixed bag of locals, Chechens, Uzbeks, there could be Arabs, but since they do not carry any identity on them, this can only be confirmed after interrogations.”