Posts Tagged ‘bombing’

 

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.

 

Terror in Syria, Dagestan, Lybia and its reflections in Russia

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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Russia in the Grip of Terror

Russia in the Grip of Terror

We rarely write about events in the North Caucasus, and we realize that this probably isn’t correct. Somehow, destruction of militant groups in places such as Aleppo in Syria seems to elicit a much greater response from us than the destruction of bandits in the Caucasus. This isn’t because we are indifferent to the fate of our homeland, but rather because we would like to avoid any harm that may be caused by an inappropriate comment or assessment of the situation. However, there are times when the chilly Caucasian breeze reaches our cozy armchairs, and we are forced to pay attention. Events that took place over the weekend were no exception.

Recent terrorist attacks in Ingushetia and Dagestan stand out from an unfortunately long chain of similar crimes as being particularly cynical. Alas, we are all too familiar with this breed of terror. It is a very distinguishing feature that sets the so-called “freedom fighters” of the never ending Arab Spring apart from their brothers in arms elsewhere: they backstab at a time and place where violence is prohibited by any religion, moral values and rules of war.

Unidentified assailants fired at a mosque congregation in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan, injuring 7 civilians and killing one person. The number of casualties could have been substantially higher if two of the bombs found later on site went off; fortunately this did not happen.

In Ingushetia, a bomber made his way into the funeral ceremony of a local policeman, Ilez Korigovym, who was earlier gunned down by unidentified bandits, and blew himself up in the crowd of mourners. Eight people were killed and another 15 seriously injured.

All of these attacks occurred in the midst of one of the most revered Muslim holidays – Eid al-Adha, marking the end of Ramadan. This reminded us of all the other similarly bitter stories we had reported on in the past: a bombing of a Shiite funeral procession in Iraq, shelling of a mosque in Syria, Islamist assaults on churches in Nigeria and Kenya, wedding executions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and so on. However, back then it all seemed far away and on the verge of being out of this world; terrible, to be sure, but also impersonal. But the swelling wave of terror in the Caucasus shows that the enemy is not even on our front porch. The enemy is already inside the house.

But forget the Caucasus for a moment. Just today a car was blown up in Kazan, pretty much the center of Russia. Fortunately, this happened in an unpopulated area, so there were no innocent casualties this time. Judging by the fact that remnants of three people, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and bits of religious literature were found within 50 meters from the blast site, the explosion was an unintentional accident. But who knows what could have happened had these people armed the bomb successfully? By the way, President Putin is scheduled to arrive in Kazan for Republic Day celebrations on August 30th. One can’t help but wonder whether this bomb blast was part of a planned “warm welcome” for the President? By the way, few people took notice, but responsibility for the recent attempted murder of the chief mufti of Tatarstan and his assistant was claimed by a group of religious extremists.

The situation is no better with Russia’s closest neighbors (in terms of geography and relationships). Kazakhstan continues to be shocked by a series of mysterious murders. After the shooting of 14 border guards at the Arkankergen outpost, another tragedy occurred in the Ile-Alatau park of Almaty, where 12 people were wantonly slaughtered under peculiar circumstances. This weekend Kazakh riot police destroyed a group of nine terrorists. Just weeks ago reports of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan were unheard of, but now they are becoming so commonplace that you’d think it was the North Caucasus.

And the situation is nowhere close to being back to normal this week. On Monday a platoon of soldiers was shot at in Khasavyurt, and in Kabardino-Balkaria there was a failed attempt to assassinate the chief of criminal police. Come fall things will likely get even worse, because the link between terrorists and domestic opposition is growing every day. Parliament Deputy Ilya Ponomarev is proposing to create battle units capable of fighting in the streets. Alexander Belov, leader of the “Russians” movement, is taking this proposal a step further, offering to use the Egypt and Libya experience as a blueprint for government resistance. Can all this be a recipe to create a “Russian Aleppo?”

E. Super