Book: Chechen Jihad - June, 2008

I just purchased the following book by Israeli-American author Yossef Bodansky. Note that the author of the book is a very well known political scientist/researcher in Washington DC. I have been paging through the book, it looks very interesting. I was immediately impressed by the abundance of detailed information as well as the style of writing.

There seems to be a lot of information in the book about various military operations that have taken place in the Caucasus region including quite a bit of information about Chechen and Afghan Mujahadeen fighters recruited by Azerbaijan in the early 1990s to fight Armenians in Nagono Karabakh
and the Turkish involvement in the Chechen insurgency. There is also a lot of information about the Russian FSB and the GRU and how they were instrumental in infiltrating the Jihadist movement in the Caucasus and eventually breaking it apart. The book also contains quite a bit about regional geopolitics, including information about political problems in Russia, references about Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, oil pipelines, Western interests in the region and the ever present hand of the Pakistani ISI and the Al Qaeda in terror operations.

One thing that seems to standout in Bodansky's book, however, is his dead silence about one major factor in Chechnya - the involvement of the US intelligence services in the region. While Bodansky paints a very dark picture concerning the Al Qaeda/Pakistan led Jihad movement in the Caucasus he, nevertheless, seems to totally ignore Western involvement with the movement in question. Instead, Bodansky primarily seems to be trying to warn Americans about the bloody consequences of ignoring militant Islam.

Nevertheless, if we accept Bodansky's very plausible theory that the bloody Jihadist movement in the Caucasus (primarily the Chechen insurgency against Russia) was orchestrated at the highest levels by Al Qaeda/Pakistan and then tie US/Western intelligence services to the Chechen insurgency and the Pakistani ISI (as many political analysts have already done), we can then safely conclude that certain elements within the US government have had a hand (on some operational level) in the "global Jihad" supposedly being waged against Western interests.

All in all, this book seems very interesting. How it fits the big geopolitical picture, where it falls politically and what is its intended purpose are yet to be determined at a later date.



Chechen Jihad

June, 2008

In this authoritative look at the roots of modern terrorism, Yossef Bodansky, one of the most respected—and best-informed—experts on radical Islamism in the world today, pinpoints the troubled region of Chechnya as a dangerous and little-understood crucible of terror in the struggle between East and West. In his number one New York Times bestseller, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, published before 9/11, Bodansky was among the first to introduce American readers to Osama bin Laden. Now in Chechen Jihad he returns to alert American readers to the lessons to be drawn from the terror campaign in Chechnya—and its ramifications for the global war on terrorism. The final years of U.S.-Soviet relations left Chechnya a fertile breeding ground for Islamic terrorism, and in the past decade an uneasy alliance of native Chechen separatists and militant jihadists have joined forces to help al Qaeda and the greater Islamist movement pursue its war against the West. As Bodansky points out, "the Chechens are professional fighters—disciplined and responsible, with a combination of skills, expertise, and character that has made them the most sought-after 'force multipliers' in the jihadist movement." Bodansky traces the secret history of the two Chechen wars, illuminating how the process of "Chechenization" transformed the fight from a secular nationalist struggle into a jihadist holy war against Russia and the secular West. And, in the most instructive message for Western audiences, he reveals how the Chechen rebellion was eventually crippled by a schism between the jihadists and the Chechen people whose nationalist rebellion they had co-opted—an object lesson in the potential vulnerability of Islamist campaigns around the world. Drawing on mountains of previously unseen intelligence from Islamist movements and other military and intelligence sources from throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as senior officials in many of the affected nations, Chechen Jihad offers an intimate and startling portrait of the jihadist movement that is astonishing in its detail and chilling in its implications—but one that points to a new way forward in the struggle to answer the challenges of international Islamist terrorism.



Some of the assessments or conclusions of the author in this book, however, are either very naive or disingenuous. Thus, quite a bit of reading between the lines is necessary. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised at Bodansky's persistent attempt to directly implicate Turkey and Pakistan in the bloody mess created in Chechnya. Georgia and Azerbaijan are also signaled out as playing major roles, with lesser roles being given to Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, Bodansky remains silent when it comes to US and European involvement. One story in the book that immediately caught my attention was the abduction and brutal murder of five Russian embassy personnel in Baghdad in June 2006.
According to Bodansky's narrative, after a long lull in the fighting in Chechnya, the Chechen war council, the "Islamist-Jihadists" headed by Shamil Basayev, had decided to carry out a spectacular attack on world leaders attending the G-8 summit which was to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. The operation's primary intention was to rekindle the flames of the Chechen insurgency which at the time had gone into decline. The Chechen leadership decided that it would first carry out a diversionary attack on Russian interests to throw-off Russian intelligence. After deliberation, it was decided that the attack against Russia was to be performed in Iraq, of all places, using what Bodansky calls "trusted jihadist resources" in the Baghdad area.
On June 8 2006, unidentified gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying five Russian embassy personnel. According to reports leaked by US intelligence services soon after the abduction, the vehicle contained a security officer, an embassy staffer and three Russian secret service members. Here are two news reports from the time:

Gunmen attack car belonging to Russian Embassy in Iraq; diplomat killed
Baghdad (Associated Press) - Gunmen attacked a car belonging to the Russian Embassy in Baghdad on Saturday, killing one diplomat and kidnapping four employees, police and the Russian Foreign Ministry said. In a statement issued in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said assailants attacked a diplomatic car carrying "workers of the Russian foreign service who were performing their official duties," killing one person and abducting four. The attack occurred at about 1:45 p.m. The statement said authorities were working with Iraqi and international authorities to secure the hostages' release. The statement did not give the names or the positions of the people killed or abducted. According to police, witnesses at the scene said gunmen opened fire on the car in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district. Interior Ministry Lt.-Col. Falah al-Mohamedawi said one person was killed in the incident, which took place just outside the embassy. AP Television News footage showed a white SUV with tinted windows, diplomatic licence plates and a small tag that said "Russian Embassy" in English and Arabic. The sign had a bullet hole in it. An ambulance was seen driving into the embassy. There was no immediate comment from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. An official at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad confirmed the attack.

Russian Diplomat Deaths Confirmed

BBC - Russian diplomat deaths confirmed Russia has confirmed that four of its diplomats taken hostage in Iraq are dead, a day after a group announced their deaths in an internet video. The confirmation came after Russian experts checked the authenticity of the videotape released by the kidnappers. The Russian foreign ministry expressed "deep pain" that the kidnapping had ended "in an irremediable way" despite efforts to win their release. A group called the Mujahideen Shura Council released the hostage video. The insurgent umbrella group is linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq. The video showed one man being beheaded and another shot dead, as well as the body of a third, but there was no sign of the fourth hostage. The group had given Russia an ultimatum to withdraw from Chechnya and release Muslim prisoners from Russian jails - or the hostages would die. Chechen rebels said they had no links to the Iraqi group. The men were seized in Baghdad on 3 June, and the kidnappers said the executions were in revenge for "torture, killing and displacement by the infidel Russian government" in Chechnya.


Here is a curious piece of information from Bodansky's book:

In carrying out this operation, the [Chechen] council stressed, it was putting the all-Islamic jihadist cause ahead of the interests of Iraq. "We know there will be appeals... to release those [Russian hostages] under the pretext that Russia took a clear stand in rejecting the [US-led] war on Iraq," the communique acknowledged. However, Moscow had already forfeited all goodwill by "sending its diplomats to Iraq in support of the Crusader project by America...
Bodansky claims that Russian officials, including Putin, made it a high priority to located those responsible for murdering Russian personnel. According to Bodansky, "U.S. security authorities in Baghdad declined to accommodate Russian efforts." Later on in the book Bodansky insinuated that the US has been tolerant of the bloody jihad being waged by the Chechens merely due to Turkey's closeness to the movement, insinuating that the US reluctantly ignored the global dangers posed by the Chechen insurgency simply due to Washington's close alliance with Turkey. This is what he has to say:
Even though the Turkish military elite is essentially anti-Islamic, this pan-Turkic nostalgia has undergirded Ankara's commitment to the Chechen revolt, and it endures despite the Islamist-Jihadist nature of Chechenization. A steady stream of Turkish volunteers-most of whom are highly trained military veterans-continues to fill jihadist ranks today, even as Ankara ignores the Islamist support for Chechnya and the drug trade that funds the jihad. The growth of pan-Turkism also had major political ramifications for the West, and especially for the United States. Washington has long considered Turkey an ally, a status that survived even the crisis over access to Iraq that began in 2003. At first this traditional alliance led the West to extend some support to the Chechen rebellion. Even today, this legacy provides a reluctant Bush administration with a fig-leaf excuse for not confronting the Chechen threat head-on, despite its immersion in a war on terrorism that has been aggravated by the spread of Chechenization.
In other words, Turkey got involved with the Chechen movement merely as a result of "nostalgia". In my opinion, the analysis above regarding why a militantly secular Turkey fully supports a militant jihadist movement and why the US tolerates Chechen terrorism is not very implausible to say the least. Bodansky utterly fails to convince here. As a matter of fact, I believe that US intelligence services either had a hand in the operation to murder the Russian embassy personnel (at least three of whom were intelligence agents) or had precise information regarding their abductors which they refused to share with Russian authorities. Nonetheless, US officials clearly refused to help their Russian counterparts when Russians needed help in fighting "Islamic Terrorism". Note: A similar incident occurred in Lebanon in 1985. At the time it was CIA backed Palestinians doing the abducting of Russian embassy personnel. However, the might of the Soviet Union at the time put a quick stop to it.

Anyway, Bodansky goes on to describe in the book how a highly sophisticated Russian operation utilizing intelligence agents working deep inside the Chechen chain-of-command put a stop to the planned attack against world leaders at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg by killing the terrorist mastermind Shamil Basayev and other high level militants. This operation is said to be a turning point in Russia's decade long struggle in the region for it dealt a final deathblow to the jihadist movement in Chechnya. At this time I would like to bring your attention to a curious incident that occurred on January 26, 2007 in Karbala Iraq. In my opinion, this incident may have been connected to what occurred to the murdered Russians in Baghdad six months prior:

Soldiers killed in Karbala were first abducted

In perhaps the boldest and most sophisticated attack in four years of warfare, gunmen speaking English, wearing U.S. military uniforms and carrying American weapons abducted four U.S. soldiers last week at the provincial headquarters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and then shot them to death. The U.S. military confirmed a report earlier Friday by The Associated Press that three of the soldiers were dead and one was mortally wounded with a gunshot to the head when they were found in a neighboring province, about 25 miles from the compound where they were captured. A fifth soldier was killed in the initial attack on the compound.

The brazen assault, 50 miles south of Baghdad, was conducted by nine to 12 gunmen posing as an American security team, the military confirmed. The attackers traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles (the type used by U.S. government convoys), had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English, according to two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials.

None of the American or Iraqi officials would allow use of their names because of the sensitive nature of the information. The confirmation came after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad initially did not respond to repeated requests for comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials on the abduction and a major breakdown in security at the Karbala site. Within hours of the AP report that four of the five dead soldiers had been abducted and found dead or dying about 25 miles east of Karbala, the military issued a long account of what took place.

"The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution," said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound," he said. "We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault."

Iraqi officials said the approaching convoy of black GMC Suburbans was waved through an Iraqi checkpoint at the edge of the city. The Iraqi soldiers believed it to be American because of the type of vehicles, the distinctive camouflage American uniforms and the fact that they spoke English. One Iraqi official said the leader of the assault team was blond, but no other official confirmed that.

A top Iraqi security official for Karbala province told the AP that the Iraqi guards at the checkpoint radioed ahead to the governor's compound to alert their compatriots that the convoy was on its way. Iraqi officials said the attackers' convoy divided upon arrival, with some vehicles parking at the back of the main building where the meeting was taking place, and others parking in front. The attackers threw a grenade and opened fire with automatic rifles as they grabbed two soldiers inside the compound. Then the guerrilla assault team jumped on top of an armored U.S. Humvee and captured two more soldiers, the U.S. military officials said. In its statement, the U.S. military said one soldier was killed and three were wounded by a "hand grenade thrown into the center's main office which contains the provincial police chief's office on an upper floor."

The attackers captured four soldiers and fled with them and the computer east toward Mahawil in Babil province, crossing the Euphrates River, the U.S. military officials said. The Iraqi officials said the four were captured alive and shot just before the vehicles were abandoned. Police, who became suspicious when the convoy of attackers and their American captives did not stop at a roadblock, chased the vehicles and found the bodies, the gear and the abandoned SUVs. The military statement said: "Two soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs. Both had suffered gunshot wounds and were dead. A third soldier was found shot and dead on the ground. Nearby, the fourth soldier was still alive, despite a gunshot wound to the head." The wounded soldier was rushed to the hospital by Iraqi police but died on the way, the military said.

The military also said Iraqi police had found five SUVs, U.S. Army-type combat uniforms, boots, radios and a non-U.S. made rifle at the scene. Three days after the killings, the U.S. military in Baghdad announced the arrest of four suspects in the attack and said they were detained on a tip from a Karbala resident. No further information was released about the suspects. Friday's military statement referred to the attackers as "insurgents," which usually suggests Sunnis. Although Karbala province is predominantly Shiite, Babil province is heavily populated by Sunnis in the north, near Baghdad. Babil's central and southern regions are largely Shiite. A senior Iraqi military official said the sophistication of the attack led him to believe it was the work of Iranian intelligence agents in conjunction with Iraq's Shiite Mahdi Army militia, which Iran funds, arms and trains.

I may be wrong... but this highly professional military operation (nothing like it seen in Iraq at the time or ever since) had the distinct fingerprints of a classic GRU operation. Passing off as Americans... speaking English... a blond team leader... highly professional/highly precise military strike... abducting and killing five mid-level American officers... Was this operation a way to thank US officials for their 'help' six months prior?

Something to think about.


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The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

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