Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 29

As Chechnya Weekly and others have already reported, not one Chechen is among the 600 prisoners being held by the U.S. government at its Guantanamo Bay naval base on suspicion of terrorism. Radio Liberty recently learned something equally interesting about two of the eight prisoners who are citizens of the Russian Federation: Their past relations with Chechnya were apparently far from friendly.

Radio Liberty reported on August 5 that it had interviewed the mother of Airat Vakhitov, a native of Tatarstan. She said that her son had traveled to Chechnya in 1999 in order to study Islam, but was detained by Chechen rebel fighters who suspected that he was spying for Russia. Only after several months was he released and permitted to return to Tatarstan.

The mother of another Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Shamil Khadzhiev from Bashkortostan, said that he had served in the Chechen war–not as a rebel guerrilla, but as a soldier in Russia’s armed forces.