Archive for the ‘Russian Affairs’ Category

Volga Tatars (Tatarstan and the historical reg...

Volga Tatars (Tatarstan and the historical region of Idel-Ural; Ryazan Oblast, Tambov Oblast, Astrakhan Oblast Kazakistan and Central Asia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An anti-terrorist operation in a residential district of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, has just been completed. Three terrorists have been killed as a result. Unfortunately, two FSB officers have also been killed in the sting, but no civilians have been harmed. It is also reported that the body of one of the dead criminals had a device resembling a “suicide bomber’s belt.” Explosives experts are currently examining the device.

According to the Investigative Committee, the special operation in Tatarstan became possible after the whereabouts of the suspects in a prior terrorist act became known. The terrotists killed in Kazan were behind the attempt to kill the mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan, and the killing of his deputy. When the republican FSB special forces attempted to detain the suspects, the terrorists resisted and detonated an explosive device, presumably a grenade. As a result the authorities have made the decision to launch an assault on the terrorsits’ apartment, located on the first floor of a building in Khimikov street in Kazan. All of the terrorists were destroyed.

We have already written that the terrorist underground is rapidly spreading through the Volga regions. We also wrote that the government is not always able to promptly and accurately respond to rather obvious signals of this movement. However, today’s special operation has demonstrated that intelligence services are carrying out investigative work ahead of the curve, because the “suicide bomber’s belt” found on the body of one of the terrorists was obviously assembled with ill intent.

We should note that very recently the Tatar mujahideen have posted a new message on the web, where the so-called forest brothers were urging their compatriots to join the armed jihad:

“Al-hamdu-Llyah, we, the Mujahideen, have taken this path to fight against the enemies of Islam. And these hypocrites who call themselves “traditional muslims” are the worst of creatures. They lay slander on Allah with their mouths, they are trying to distort the words of Allah,” the statement says. “And there is no such religion as “traditional Islam“, “moderate Islam” or “secular Islam.” It’s not even a sect or a derivative religious movement, it is pure deception and lies. The enemies of Islam have introduced heresy into the religion of Allah, and called it “traditional” to lead others astray from the true path of Allah … And those who do not follow them are labeled Wahhabis, and the Kafirs legitimize their persecution and murder …

They urge to obey the Kafirs, to obey their laws, to serve in their army … to celebrate holidays of the so-called Christians. They call Kafirs their leaders and call for obeisance to them …

When we learned that Faizov survived, we were a little upset. However, Al-hamdu-Llyah,  Allah has revealed to us how he eliminates his enemies. And we have seen how the key Kafir Putin arrives in Kazan and gives a medal to his faithful dog, who was ready to kneel and kiss the hands of his master.”

Around the same time Al Jazeera aired the message of a popular Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who criticized Russia for its support of Syria:

“Brothers, Moscow these days has turned into an enemy of Islam and Muslims. It has evolved into the biggest enemy of Islam and Muslims, because it is opposed to the Syrian people. Arab and Islamic world must stand united against Russia. We should boycott Russia – our enemy number one.”

All these facts fit neatly into the theory of internationalization of radical Islam and the opening of a new war front against Russia.

 

UPDATE: According to the FSB, the destroyed terrorists have been identified. Among them were members of the Mingaliev gang, along with their leader, Rais Mingaliev, who was on the federal and international wanted lists. It is suspected that the gang is behind many of the assassinations of spiritual leaders in Tatarstan. Mingaliev has previously called himself on video the Emir of the Mujahideen of Tatarstan, and took responsibility for the attacks. The police have later said that the terrorist apartment has been on watch for a long time. While trying to arrest the terrorists, one of them detonated an explosive device, injuring two officers of the FSB (one later died). The others were detained as a result of the assault. According to the FSB the terrorists were preparing a series of attacks against civilians during the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Adha.

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Yesterday another band of terrorists was destroyed in Kazakhstan. On the same day, another man with an arsenal of explosives and ammunition was detained. Such cases have become so frequent in Kazakhstan that they are no longer seen as something extraordinary. Yet not so long ago reports of an emerging terrorist underground were seen as conspiracy theory nonsense. Let’s look at the situation one year after the wave of terror began in Kazakhstan.

Minus five

The Atyrau region yesterday was roiling with unrest. Law enforcement officials have discovered a band of terrorists in one of the apartment of a residential high-rise building. The area was cordoned off, residents evacuated, and the bandits were ordered to surrender. But the bandits responded with gun fire and detonated several explosives, injuring one special ops trooper. In the resulting assault five terrorists were killed and another wounded and taken to hospital.

Interestingly, detectives discovered this group while investigating another terrorist cell. A week earlier in Atyrau a Kazakh citizen blew himself up, having apparently mishandled an explosive device. Three more home made bombs were later found in his apartment. The dead man’s associates, discovered as a result of the investigation, let the police to the group which was subsequently destroyed yesterday.

Also yesterday, a resident of the Alma-Ata region was seized with a fully fledged military arsenal: three sticks of TNT, one RGD-5 hand grenade without a fuse, a fuse to the hand grenade, a fully loaded Makarov magazine, 153 rounds of 9mm cartridges and an EDP-1 electronic detonator.

News from the Front

The fact of the matter is that something terribly wrong is going on in Kazakhstan that even the blind can see. This is a partial list of recent high-profile incidents in Kazakhstan:

– August 17, 2012. Nine terrorists were killed in the course of a special operation near Alma-Ata;

– August 14, 2012. 11 people slaughtered in the Ile-Alatau National Park by unknown attackers;

– July 11, 2012. Self-explosion in Tuasamaly. Weapons and extremist literature were found on the scene. According to some reports the bomb was intended for Nazarbayev;

– May 31, 2012. Unidentified attackers shot 12 people from NATO-standard weapons on the border of  the Alma-Ata region;

– May 25, 2012. Police raided a resident of Ridder, seizing an arsenal of explosives and ammunition. On the same day another weapons cache was found;

– December 16, 2011. Oil workers strike in Zhanaozen. Unexpectedly stiff resistance from the police and the professional organization of the protest suggests participation of foreign coordinators;

– December 3, 2011. A band of 5 terrorists was destroyed in the Alma-Ata region in a special operation;

– November 12, 2011. Bandits made a real show of shooting grenade launchers, pursuing and killing  police officers in Taraz;

– November 8, 2011. In Alma-Ata gunmen attacked a patrol unit, killing two police officers;

– October 31, 2011. Two explosions in Atyrau, one of which was a suicide bombing.

Again, this is not a complete list of events. Most experts agree on the idea that the Kazakh secret services were unprepared for such a rapidly deteriorating situation. As a result the country is taking urgent steps to increase the powers of the National Security Committee (analogue of the Russian FSB, the Federal Security Service).

Me, worry?

That was the question asked by many of our Russian readers when the wave of terror began in Kazakhstan and, unfortunately, continue to ask now. Recall that Russia and Kazakhstan share the longest land border (7000 km), which in many areas is not controlled or monitored in any meaningful way. Destabilization of Kazakhstan will lead to a stream of refugees, drug traffic, terrorism and arms exports to Russia. Take a look at what is happening in Syria and its neighbors, and then compare the extent of their borders and ours. Get the picture?

Of course, this is the worst case scenario. But let us remember where destabilize began in Kazakhstan. It started with the adoption of a law on religion, which was condemned by the West as anti-democratic, and which caused various extremist groups to issue statements of jihad to the Kazakh authorities. In one such statement the band calling themselves Jund al-Khalifa, commented a series of explosions in Kazakhstan: “The two explosions were a warning to the government … if in the future we will not see that they listened to our requirements, we swear … that the next attack will bring rivers of blood. ”

President Nazarbayev himself at the time gave a very accurate description of what was happening: “The experience of recent years proves against and again that terrorism is a product of very particular forces having a very specific purpose. Historically, modern terrorism has its roots in political and economic issues. It is strongly associated not only with transnational crime, drug trafficking and arms smuggling. Unfortunately, it also has geopolitical origins.”

So far, the situation in Kazakhstan is developing along a negative scenario and the trend is worsening. Ahead is the withdrawal of the international coalition forces from Afghanistan, with possible transfer of US military bases to other Central Asian republics, which will lead to the spread of extremism across the region. In this situation, it would be logical for Russian anti-terrorism experts to provide maximum support to Kazakh law enforcement forces, and indeed, this is taking place. However, Russia has its own set of problems with two carefully fueled regions – Dagestan and Tatarstan. This means that all of us are in for some very unsettling times.

 

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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The Kommersant newspaper has once again uncovered machinations of the “insidious Putin regime.” According to yesterday’s edition of the daily (http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2009256), the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is ready to spend more than 30 rubles (about US$1 million) on a new system designed to monitor social network activity. The most “insidious” part is that the system can be used not only to collect and analyze information, but to also run its own information attacks. Experts interviewed by the newspaper believe that it is quite possible that the device could be used in the Russian segment of the Internet. Are we going to take it?

“Little Putin” is watching you

In January 2012 the SVR announced private tenders to develop three separate applications: the “Dispute” (to study methods and principles of information sharing in online communities), the “Monitor-3” (to analyze collected information and arrange actions aimed at influencing its use and dissemination) and the “Storm-12 “(to promote required information and opinions in social networks).

The news sparked immediate outrage among bloggers who position themselves as fighting “Putin’s dictatorship” (which in itself could be the subject of study for the Dispute app). In their view, this act caused the “regime to completely discredit itself” (ummm, again) by trying to choke free speech on the Internet with the “bloody hands of Kremlin propaganda.”

Moreover, the blogger-fighters already “know” that all of the funds allocated for the purchase of said software have been stolen and redistributed (“and this, by the way, was the taxpayers’ money!”). A separate tier of gloom and doom bloggers expressed the conviction that now all computers belonging to the opposition will be infected with secret “spy viruses,” and a “little Putin” will play bogeyman behind each and every computer monitor (aye, and smartphones and other gadgets will get their version of a “little Medvedev”).

But bloggers can’t reach agreement about what to do with this. Some offer a universal solution – leave the country; but this hardly seems like solid advice, because the “accursed Putin” now has software that could reach out to your computer anywhere in the world (and live in your foreign monitor). Others propose to contact the European Court of Human Rights, the UN and “Amnesty International“, but don’t seem to know which address to write to.

Whose machine is “gooder”?

Strangely, the very same bloggers fully support the use of the so-called Good Propaganda Machine, recently launched by the newly famous Kremlin invader Alexey Navalny. It is a tool that can be used to initiate manufactured information attacks in the blogosphere and also in reality.

But what is so good about it? Probably the fact that it distributes “good” propaganda: truth about “the monstrous flood in Krymsk,” the “monstrous Pussy Riot sentence;” the “monstrous Magnitsky case,” the “monstrous NATO base in Ulyanovsk “and other “monstrous crimes of the Putin regime.”

(Just in case, we’d like to warn current users of the Good Propoganda Machine that their monitors could be also occupied by little Akunin and little Kasparov. And if the former is basically harmless, the latter is just waiting to bite off a finger or two).

Watchers everywhere

We would like to take a step further than the Kommersant newspaper and lay bare a few more “monstrous” issues, for comparisons’ sake.

Just recently the U.S. Navy announced a tender (http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2012/06/navy-seeks-social-media-tracker-measure-reach/56260/) for the development of new software for monitoring social networks and news sites. The software used at the moment no longer meets the requirements of the Navy and it is time to replace it with something more fitting the task.

And we’re not even going to bother mentioning the fact that U.S. intelligence forces have control over Facebook and Twitter. According to Twitter, only for the first half of 2012 U.S. authorities have requested disclosure of profile data on some 679 Twitter users. Further, as early as last year the British Guardian wrote a piece about the U.S. government’s intention to develop special software allowing it to manage thousands of bot accounts on Facebook, which would be used to create a purpose-built, manufactured opinion around any subject required by the government.

And of course we should not forget the fact that the American internet is brimming with scandals regarding the use of “extremist” expressions on the web. Last time we checked, the list of suspicious terms included such words as “pork”, “earthquake”, “bridge”, “electricity” and “tornado”.

Amid all this, the SVR initiative brings only two questions two mind: why only now, and why so little funding? Only the blind fail to see that Good Propaganda Machines are already deployed worldwide and are successfully used to fuel uprisings in targeted countries, while traditional media are losing their audience and trust factor to social networks by the minute. Sluggishness of the state in this new breed of info wars allowed the initiative it to be largely captured by its opponents. This means it has to start its own propaganda machine as soon as possible, and the meaner it will be, the better.