Skip to comments.Bin Laden's man in Chechnya (The Al-Qaeda Links)
Posted on 10/27/2002 10:19:26 AM PST by Andy from Beaverton
The Al-Qaeda Link By Trevor Royle
In June, Pakistani soldiers engaged al-Qaeda terrorists in the tribal area of Azam Warsak. In one of the most intense fire-fights of the campaign, 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed fighting two al-Qaeda terrorists, both of them Chechens. Later, Pakistan's Inter-Service public relations agency reported that al-Qaeda casualties had been higher, but difficult terrain had made a head count impossible .
The link between al-Qaeda and Chechen terrorism goes back to the 1990s, when Chechnya began its struggle for independence from Russia. The Taliban regime in Afghan istan was one of the first to recognise Chechen independence and offer training to the terrorist cells. Khattab, the Saudi militant who operated with Che chen warlords, had close links with Osama bin Laden -- he was killed by Russian security forces in April -- and Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of September 11, had initially planned to join the Chechens in their struggle.
Although it does not enjoy the prominence of Hamas or Hezbollah, the Chechen cause has a high profile in the Islamic world. The Global Relief Foundation -- an Islamic charity that, according to the CIA, is a major supplier of funds and aid to Islamic terrorists -- is one of its main supporters . Recently the Chechens have also attracted attention from the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV network, which closely monitored the Moscow siege.
Russia has been playing up the al-Qaeda links to justify its heavy-handed operations against the Chechens to the West. Since September 11, President Putin has lost no opportunity to link Chechen terrorists with al-Qaeda, especially when talking to the US State Department . Putin has used rhetoric similar to Bush's speeches about the need to uproot terrorist groups who threaten the status quo.
The policy has paid dividends. From being fierce opponents of the anti- Chechen campaign, the US has toned down their criticism . The idea of al-Qaeda being a common enemy has gained universal acceptance, and under this doctrine any of the group's allies or supporters is considered fair game .
Russian diplomats are keen to portray recent Chechen attacks as part of an Islamic assault on the non-Islamic world. As well as the Moscow siege, these include the apartment-block bombings in Moscow in 1999, a plot to assassinate Putin in January, the hijacking of a Russian airliner in Saudi Arabia two months later and the bombing of the town of Kaspiisk in May.
Why the Chechens have embraced al-Qaeda is an open question. Islam is not as firmly rooted in Chechnya as in Afghanistan, and the terrorists' target is not so much the West as Russia. According to Russian sources the Chechens attracted Islamic fundamentalist support only during the fighting of the 1990s, when any attack on a Muslim people was considered an assault on Islam.
This attracted hundreds of Muslim fighters, Taliban among them. Common cause encouraged the Chechens to ally with al-Qaeda, correctly regarded as at war with the non-Islamic world. During the 1999 fighting in Kosovo, many mercenaries with the Kosovar Liberation Army were Chechens funded and trained by al-Qaeda.
And the fact that Clintoon and the Third Way Euro Trash were actively supporting the KLA is far more then ludicrous.
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