Skip to comments.Shamil Basayev - January 14, 1965 - July 10, 2006
Posted on 07/10/2006 3:27:08 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
GLORYING in the name Shamil, which he shared with the legendary warrior priest of the Caucasus, against whose braves the novelist Tolstoy fought as a young artillery officer in the mid-19th century, Shamil Basayev regarded himself as carrying the torch of Chechen self-determination against Moscow in the modern era. To many and not just among Russians he was simply the bloodthirsty author of some of the most appalling terrorist atrocities of recent times.
He had been commander in chief of Chechen forces in both the first and second Chechen wars. In the first he led the remarkable operation that drove, admittedly ill-organised, Russian occupying troops out of the capital, Grozny, in 1996, giving Chechnya a brief de facto independence from Moscow.
Four years later he was likewise at the head of his troops when, after an abortive attempt by him to take over the neighbouring Russian territory of Dagestan, the Russians reversed the verdict of the first Chechen war, and compelled him and his separatists to retreat from Grozny and take to the hills. In this process Basayev lost a foot when he stepped on a landmine. But he continued to rally his troops in the mountain fastnesses of the Caucasus, striking back at Moscows authority through a number of terrorist acts hostage takings and massacres committed throughout Russia.
Indeed, it was through terrorist acts that he had first come to international notice. In 1991 he hijacked a Russian airliner and forced it to fly to Turkey, where he used a press conference as a platform to denounce what he saw as Russian oppression in Chechnya.
Latterly sporting a huge bushy beard, and clad in combat fatigues with hallmark beret or peaked forage cap, he bore a marked resemblance to the young Fidel Castro, a comparison that did not at all displease him. He had expressed some remorse over the high death toll that resulted from the terrible school siege at Beslan in North Ossetia two years ago, for which he claimed responsibility. But he blamed the Russians for precipitating the bloody end to the siege, and asserted his determination to continue to fight against Russian genocide in Chechenya. Western commentators who had observed him throughout his career sensed a new ruthlessness in his demeanour, compared with that of the apparently composed commander who had taken Grozny from the Russians in 1996.
Shamil Salmanovich Basayev was born in 1965 in a village near the town of Vedeno in southeastern Chechnya. His family were proud of their history of resistance to Russian rule. His grandfather had fought in the vain attempt to establish an independent emirate of the north Caucasus in the years immediately after the Russian revolution.
With other Chechens his family were deported to Kazakhstan during the Second World War, as part of a dispersal of many non-Russian ethnic groups by a Soviet regime fearful that they might collaborate with the invading Germans. The Chechens were returned to the Caucasus in 1957 when Khrushchev lifted the deportation order.
Basayev was educated at school in Vedeno and after two years military service as a firefighter worked for four years on a state farm near Volgograd. Moving to Moscow he tried to gain entrance to Moscow University to read law. But he was not accepted, and instead entered the Moscow Engineering Institute to study land management. But he did not last long. Expelled for poor work, he subsequently worked as a computer salesman in the Russian capital.
When, in August 1991, hardline Communists attempted a coup in Moscow, Basayev joined the supporters of President Yeltsin at the barricades, partly, perhaps, because the Chechen chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, was a pro-Yeltsin figure. But with the break-up of the Soviet Union not long afterwards, Basayev returned to Chechnya, when its separatist leader Djokar Dudayev, declared independence from Russia.
After the 1991 hijack of a Russian airliner to Ankara, Basayev went in the following year to Abkhazia, where the local separatist movement was in revolt against the Georgian authorities.
In his first real experience of military command, he became the leader of a battalion of Caucasian volunteers (mainly Chechens), who were supplied by the Russians. Their intervention on the side of the Abkhaz rebels led to the defeat of the Georgian Governments attempts to assert control and to the ethnic cleansing from the region of the entire Georgian population.
The Russians, who were not unhappy with this outcome, came to regard Basayev as a competent commander. But they were soon to regret this acquired competence when in December 1994, they invaded Chechnya to depose Dudayev and reassert Moscows authority over the rebellious territory. Basayev, who had kept his Abkhaz Battalion together and in training, now launched it against an ill-led and illprovisioned Russian occupying force.
Nevertheless, after early successes the Abkhaz battalion began to suffer heavy losses. Basayev now resorted to large-scale terrorist acts on Russian soil to alert the world to the Chechen cause. Among these was the holding of 2,000 hostages in a hospital in the southern Russian town of Budennovsk. More than 100 of these died when Russian forces stormed the building, Basayev and his immediate followers succeeding in making good their escape.
By now he had become an internationally known figure and with Russian morale at a low ebb was was given command of Chechnyas forces on his return to Grozny. In August 1996 he launched an offensive that drove the Russians out of Grozny.
For a brief period some sort of political normality appeared possible for Chechnya. After a presidential election, which he contested with the more moderate separatist Aslan Maskhadov, to whom he lost, Basayev was appointed Prime Minister of Chechnya by the new President. Relations between the two men soon broke down, however, and Basayev lasted only six months in the post. (Maskhadovs Government would later be deposed and he was killed in a Russian attack in 2005.)
Subsequently Basayev grew his beard, shaved his head, and began to make much of his devotion to Islam and his dedication to international jihad. In a grave error of judgment, he allied himself with the Islamic fundamentalist Ibn-ul-Khattab in August 1999 to launch an attack on neighbouring Dagestan with the aim of establishing a Chechen-Dagestani Islamic Republic in the Russian-controlled territory. Russian forces easily defeated this venture and followed up their success by driving Basayev and his forces from Grozny itself, reasserting Moscows authority over Chechnya.
Thereafter, Basayevs path was that of terrorist rather than guerrilla fighter. His claims of responsibility for such outrages as the Moscow theatre hostage crisis of October 2002, in which 130 of the hostages died when Russian special forces raided the building, and the 2004 Beslan school siege, with its bloody outcome that involved the deaths of several hundred schoolchildren, made him Moscows most wanted man.
But the pretence of political power was maintained. Only last month Basayev had been appointed, according to a rebel website, vice-president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, an unrecognised secessionist administration, which maintains an unstable existence.
Basayevs wife and children had been killed in 1995 during a Russian air raid on his home town.
Shamil Basayev, Chechen separatist leader, was born on January 14, 1965. He was killed on July 10, 2006, aged 41.
Too bad it didn't happen sooner...
Simply no justifcation for murdering hundreds of schoolchildren. Hopefully, he is now reaping his eternal punishment.
The World has improved immensely without this man in it.
Islam: The Religion of Death
I believe he had only one leg.
"I believe he had only one leg."
LOL! I think they are now saying that he had previously lost his foot. Then he had to go do something stupid and lose his head.
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