Skip to comments.Moscow Counter-Terrorist Raid (Novel tactic used).
Posted on 10/26/2002 1:55:34 PM PDT by spetznaz
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Russian special forces carried out a "novel" attack to end the Moscow theatre hostage crisis -- but incurred a high death toll in its execution, a military expert says.
About 750 people were saved in the dawn raid by Russian forces on Saturday, but 67 of the hostages died in the operation and a further 42 were taken to hospital, apparently suffering from gas inhalation.
A sleeping gas was used to confuse and disarm the 50 Chechen rebel hostage-takers during the storming of the building, in which all of the 75 non-Russians and 25 children are believed to have been freed unharmed.
Jim Condon, a military expert for UK security company AKE, told CNN: "Russian special forces had no option but to carry out the attack after the hostage-takers were reported to have begun carrying out their threat of killing the captives.
The use of a sedative gas was a unique and well-planned idea, put into place early on in the three-day siege.
"I have not seen a sleeping gas used before in such a situation," Condon said.
"It seems it was in the Russian arsenal and they had planned to use it. They could not have got it into place so quickly on Saturday morning otherwise. It was part of their repertoire and they were working to a plan."
The Russian special forces faced a unique situation, with so many people having been taken, being held in a such a small building and with so many well-armed terrorists around them. It would have been easy for the rebels to have killed all the hostages, Condon said.
Television footage showed Russian troops calmly approaching the building before the raid.
"They knew the gas would have been used and that there would be minimum resistance, and they did not want to cause any unnecessary disturbances," Condon added. The elite Alpha force, part of Russia's former KGB, had carried out other preparational work such as getting people into the theatre, to ascertain who was in the building, the numbers involved, and how well armed they were.
The building was reported to have been booby-trapped, with mines at the entrances and exits as well as passageways and on the seats. Some of the women hostage-takers had explosives strapped to their waists and a huge bomb was in the centre of auditorium.
It is not clear how many of these went off, if any. Special forces searching the building after the operation said they found 30 devices.
The Russians knew what they were up against in the character of the hostage-takers, having been faced with previous Chechen attacks, Condon said.
The biggest was in a southern Russian hospital in 1995 when 1,000 patients were held captive at Budyonnovsk, near the border with Chechnya.
Russian troops unsuccessfully stormed the hospital twice, and more than 100 civilians, police and soldiers died in the gun battles.
Seventy-eight people, including police offices, soldiers and civilians, were killed in a separate incident six months later when another group of Chechen rebels raided a hospital in the southern Russian town of Kizlyar, taking hundreds of hostages and using them as human shields.
"The Chechens have acted extremely brutally in the past. They are willing to die, there is no doubt about that," Condon said.
"We know they are absolutely committed to their cause. The use of women in the crisis is a political statement saying that the entire community is involved in their campaign."
They had used a Russian anniversary this weekend to highlight their cause on the international arena.
The crisis was proving to be the sternest test faced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Anna Matreeva, of the London-based security organisation Safer World, told CNN Putin's options were not looking good, but that he was "forced to do something under public pressure and with all the international spotlight on him."
But the death of 67 hostages was a high toll.
"It is a success, but it has been tainted by the fact that so many innocent people have lost their lives," Condon added.
"Russia has proved that it is determined not to give into these Chechen rebels."
It is not clear how many of the captives were killed by the hostage-takers and how many were caught in the cross-fire with Russian troops.
"We have to find out through an autopsy on how the hostages died," Condom said.
(Excerpt) Read more at europe.cnn.com ...
So CNN recognizes a border between Russia and Chechnya?
We think everything was done professionally, as it is fixed in the operative instructions. It is really very important that we were a success in the psychological war. There was leakage of information saying that the storm would start at 3:00 a.m. The terrorists pricked up the ears, but no storm followed. Then they started firing. It is quite natural that as a consequence of it, the terrorists relaxed. We started the storm at 5:00 a.m. Sleeping gas was let into the theatre hall through the ventilation, several grenades were fired right in the hall. We managed to liquidate the female kamikaze: soldiers penetrated into the hall through special crawlways and shot the sleeping terrorists point-blank. Right at the temple. I agree that its cruel, but when you see a man with two kilograms of plastid strapped to the body, there is no other way to neutralize him
Now that is the way to deal with scum! When you know the terrorists are going to kill people no matter what i guess the only choice is to go ahead!
I am sad that around 90 Russian hostages had to die, but considering the numbers saved (around 750 hostages rescued) i have to say that was much better than every hostage being killed by the Chechnyan terrorists. The FSB controlled spetsgruppa al'fa spetznaz teams did a great job in all respects.
As for the captured terrorists (around 50 were killed in the counter-terrorist strike and the remainder captured) i feel very sorry for them! The Russian Gulag prison system is not very condusive for human beings who want to stay healthy, and thus these kooks will face conditions that are going to make them scream out for Allah! They will probably wish they could be transferred to Gitmo since at least over there liberal politicians in DC would ensure they get better care than many people in 3rd world countries. However these guys will face a 'Russian wlecome' that they will not soon forget.
I read someplace that Russian special operatives used to practive their unarmed combat skills (a mix of what is known as 'systema' that is used for silent unarmed kills, plus combat sambo) on prisoners in the Gulag prisons. After all practicing full speed blows on human subjects is better than hitting a bag and breaking wood (after all Bruce Lee did say 'Boards do not strike back). I wonder if they still practice on prisoners, and if they do i wonder if these Chechnyans will be on the receiving end of some Mad Ivans with a score to settle.
And even at that, the numbers of losses suffered may be as low as could possibly have been managed with 700 lives at stake, and it appears that none of the children hostages or any of the foreigners held by the terrorists were among those killed or hospitalized- including the three Americans.
But it would certainly be much more appropriate to gas the Chechyen terrorists in locations where no innocent bystanders or hostages will be harmed. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for that ideal to be realized, but it would be a nice gesture.
Sounds like something California readers would find thrilling. Kum-bay-yah alert...
Her mother said, "She could not stand when people were mistreated, and this is what I think drove her out of our apartment that night. Olga told me that she wanted to go talk to the terrorists and tell them that holding so many innocent people . . . was a wrong thing."
I'm sorry the little peace-nik got killed, but give me a break!!! Hasn't she learned yet that terrorists aren't interested in peace?
That, and the efficient use of their field spades/entrenching shovels, a dandy close-quarters and nearly silent sentry removal tool and crowd-control device, at least equal to the *Alabama lie-detectors* in use by US police riot control forces.
NOWHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION THAT THIS AGENT CAUSES SLEEPING.
However i do agree with you that at times information on tactics is released in a rather imprudent manner.
As for it inducing sleep i guess the reason the media said so is because they saw imobile people, hence the conventional thought is 'sleep gas.' A similar example is when someone buys in a public store 'Pepper Spray' and automatically thinks he is buying 'Mace' when in reality there is a big difference between Pepper Spray and Mace. However not as big as the difference between sleeping gas and a nerve agent.
One will knock you to sleep, the other could very well put you to sleep. Subtle but profound.
It?s likely that the special forces that stormed the theater building where Chechen terrorists held hostages used soporific to neutralize the terrorists, according to NEWSru.COM commenting on the video shot on the attack scene and demonstrated on the Russian ORT television.
The video demonstrated the terrorists, camouflaged men and women of Caucasian appearance, strapped with explosives. Judging by the poses of their bodies, the terrorists were killed while asleep.
Straps with explosives were taken off the terrorist women; to strengthen the effect of the explosive devices, they had been filled with bearing balls.
However, the operative headquarters give no comments concerning the use of soporific during the storming of the theatre.
Interfax informs that when troops from the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs entered the theater hall half an hour after the storm, they saw dozens of unconscious people in the booths, the dress circle, and everywhere in the hall.
Commander of the operative rescue service from the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs Anatoly Belousov says: ?The people are shocked because of the stress and fatigue; their faces are white.?
It is also reported that all hostages were evacuated from the building at about 9:00 a.m. All people have been sent to Moscow hospitals for treatment. According to Anatoly Belousov, there are no remaining explosives inside and around the theater.
They had a lot of better choices, surely, and I cannot imagine they would use this. If they had it seems like a lot more people would be dead. Many many more.
I think the reason they opted for this agent is due to the rapid onset of its effects. A more conventional agent, like your run of the mill 'sleep gas' would induce sleep, but the speed of onset would be slow enough to make some terrorists become aware of what was going on and detonate the devices. However the use of a binary nerve gas like sterase inhibitor is something that will conk everyone very fast. Meaning that by the time a terrorist discovers something is amiss he no longer has the ability to channel nerve impulses from his mind to his muscles. He wants to blow up the theater but he is basically petrified.
That is why ...i think ....they used the agent. Using a less potent substance would have led to at least over a dozen of the terrorists to notice there fellow comrades are falling asleep, and they would have rushed to detonate the explosives lining the theater. Carnage would have ensued and scores would have died.
However add a binary agent and suddenly you have everyone in the theater getting turned off like a switch almost simultaneously.
As for the sleeping part i think it was the media seeing limp people scattered around. The most orthodox thought is 'a sleeping gas' when it was probably a nerve agent immobilizing them.