Archive for September 2, 2012

Another live bomb exploded yesterday in Dagestan, killing a religious leader and six other people. Meanwhile, the Derbent region saw fatal shootings by a contract soldier, who killed several of his colleagues before being gunned down. These murders fit perfectly in a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing the situation not only in the Caucasus, but throughout the whole country.

Two tragedies

Yesterday in the Chirkey village of the Buinaksk district a suicide bomber came seeking audience with a religious figure, Said Afandi. To jump the queue, she said she was pregnant. Said Afandi was busy talking to a blind man and his 12-year-old son, but ordered the guards to let the woman pass. The murderer was not stopped by the presence of the child and activated her explosive device, which was stuffed with chopped nails. As a result, 7 people were killed, including Said Afandi. The bomber was identified only by her decapitated head.

The murder shocked the republic. Said Afandi had unquestioned authority and thousands of students. In the religious environment he was known as an opponent of radical Islam who made every effort to stabilize the situation in the republic. Afandi’s funeral in the village Chirkey was attended by tens of thousands of people, and Dagestan was officially in mourning.

Magomedsalam Magomedov, Head of Dagestan, comments:

“The killing of Sheikh Said Afandi al-Chirkey is yet another inhuman and cynical crime against outstanding personalities, religious figures of our society, which even today remain as role models for all of Dagestan’s people. It is these people that ideologists of terrorism are mortally afraid of.”

The Criminal Investigations Committee considers the murder to be connected with Afandi’s religious activity as the main motive.

But Dagestan was jolted by another tragic even on the same day. Contractor soldier Ramzan Aliyev of the local border police, shot two of his colleagues while on daily duty. He then proceeded to the barracks, where he killed five other privates and wounded four Special Rapid Response team members. He was killed by return fire. According to one theory, the killer could have been recruited by Wahhabimilitants.

Versions and consequences

All experts who comment the murder of Said Afandi indicate that, as an opponent of radicalism, he tried to establish dialogue between the traditionalists (to whom he belonged) and the Salafis. And to the surprise of many in this field he had achieved some success. Recently, with his assistance an agreement was reached between the Muslim Spiritual Board and the Ahl Sunnah Muslim organization, which consists of legal Salafis who do not approve of terror. Naturally, Afandi’s death dealt a serious blow to this agreement, as well as all future attempts to reconcile religious movements of the Caucasus.

Many experts, as well as the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation suggest that the terrorist Doku Umarov  is behind the murder as someone who is interested in maintaining  the terrorist threat in the Caucasus. It is also possible that the Arab monarchies had a hand in this tragedy. Afandi made no secret of his opposition to Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia.

Be it as it may, the murder led to severe aggravation of the situation in Dagestan. Given that  Afandi had a very large number of followers, riots seem likely. So much so that even Magomedsalam Magomedov ordered the creation of self-defense units to patrol the streets.

“In every city, in every district we will organize self-defense units, squads of young people who are ready, under the direction and with guidance from the internal affairs authorities, to work to ensure public security, to punish these criminals and terrorists. This is an order to all heads of cities and regions,” – said Magomedov.

Some parallels

To those who are closely following these events it should probably be apparent that a wide spread offensive is unfolding before our very eyes, on the basis of spiritual life of the country. Its purpose is to fragment the fabric of society, impose mutual hatred and sow fear. Looking closely one can easily see that the same methods are used in the Caucusus and other regions of Russia. True, the Caucasus “Pussies” do not dance in mosques but rather blow them up, but such dances would be suicide in local conditions anyway. And in any case, they achieve the same result (incite hatred and fear) and are similarly rewarded (some obtain world fame, others – eternal life in heaven).

Another thought cannot leave out mind: the parellels with Syria are more than just coincidence. On the day of the terrorist attacks in Dagestan a double bombing took place in the suburbs of Damascus, killing dozens of people. One of the explosions thundered during a funeral ceremony, just like last weekend in Ingushetia. We are aware of strengthening ties between the Middle East and the Caucasus terrorist groups. For example, according to our latest information, Syria-based Islamists have announced partial transfer of their activity from Syria to the Caucasus, in particular to fight for the “liberation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, is far from tranquility. Recent high-profile murders did not lead to a show of force spanking of the radicals by the authorities, which led them to increase in their activity. There is information about an upcoming series of mass demonstrations of Tatarstan nationalists and Islamists.

All of this suggests that these events are interconnected, and are a part of a wider onsluaght on the country. And, also as expected, this activity is increasing the closer we get to the anticipated “marches of millions” in the fall.

We are hearing increasing criticism of the authorities who allowed this situation to arise. It is difficult to argue with such critics, however, many readers do not understand that no authority, no one power can control everything at once. We need to take into account the fact that Russia is not being rocked by a single psychopath, but rather by networks with extensive financial and informational control. So the main question at the moment is not “how they have allowed this?” but rather “what will they do next?” We will follow and comment on these developments with utmost care.

 

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U.S. troops, who have recently burned the Quran and mocked dead bodies of Taliban soldiers, will be setenced. Details of the punishment are not known, however we do know that it will be a disciplinary action and not a criminal prosecution. Most likely, they face reduction in pay or reduction in rank. Meanwhile, foreign troops and Afghans continued to be killed in Afghanistan, while reports of bombings and other attacks come almost daily. Yet, there are some new trends in this conflict.

Lets review what we know so far.

It is known that the American justice system is very kind to its soldiers. For the burning of hundreds of copies of the Quran and mockery of Taliban corpses the guilty American soldiers will get a minimum sentence. Recall that earlier this year similar actions led to mass protests by the Afghan population, resulting in 30 dead, including two US soldiers. Following this, the Taliban began their traditional spring offensive, which this time was surprisingly extensive and effective. Among the most high profile attacks were the April attacks on foreign facilities across the country, including foreign embassies and the NATO mission in Kabul.

Against this background, foreign forces continue to leave Afghanistan. To date, 202 military bases have been closed, and a further 282 bases were transferred under the control of government security forces. Although the term “military base” includes conventional control points, some of which were not designed for more than 300 soldiers. However, active withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan continues, and until the end of the year another 200 bases will be closed.

Reduction of the number of ISAF employees increases casualties of the Afghan military and police. The tally this year is about 600 Afghan police dead on a monthly basis, and about 50 foreign troops. Civilian casualties can not be numbered, but basic estimates show a rising trend.

The Taliban is also incurring losses. The spring offensive reduced their number by over 2,000 militants, forcing them to abandon outright assault in favour of guerrilla tactics. Among the most popular – widespread explosive booby traps and burning of fuel trucks in NATO supply trains.

The new trend of the conflict is the Afghan people’s militia. Ordinary people, seeing the helplessness of the authorities, took up arms to defend their lands from the Taliban. The first such spontaneous uprising in one of the provinces was met with unexpected success and became a model for other areas of the country. However, implications of this movement are difficult to estimate. On the one hand, it is a threat to the Taliban, and on the other – to the government, as the militia does not have any love for either side. Many forces will be tempted to take the lead in this movement and use it for their own political purposes.

Another growing trend is the sabotage attacks carried out militants who have successfully infiltrated the ranks of Afghan police. Their number and impact this year has increased dramatically. Thus 32 such attacks this year claimed the lives of 40 troops of the international coalition. This tactic has a major demoralizing effect on the foreign military as literally every minute they are forced to expect a shot in the back from their Afghan colleagues.

It is noteworthy that President Karzai blamed such acts of sabotage on foreign intelligence services. And even though no one was mentioned directly, it was clear that he was referring to Iran and Pakistan. Americans do not agree with such an assessment, but it does not make a difference – foreigners soldiers continue to die at the hands of militants in disguise.

Thus, the situation in Afghanistan after 11 years of Operation Enduring Freedom is a total disaster. And we have no illusions about the fact that after departure of the foreigners troops the Karzai administration would be able to resolve the situation.