Terrorists declare war on Russia. Will Russia respond?
Two terrorist attacks in Volgograd, at the railway station and in the trolleybus, have taken the lives of 32 people and wounded more than 70. Russian law enforcement authorities, and, in fact, the state, had to face a serious challenge. Who is standing behind the bombings and what goals they pursue - there are no doubts about that. But what is the reason of the frightening frequency and the constant character of such attacks? What measures should be taken to root out terrorism in Russia?
Suicide bombers do not explode themselves from excessive emotions or religious fanaticism. This is always a result of a well-planned operation. There are Western intelligence agencies and money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar that stand behind terrorist groups and gangs operating in Russia.
"This is definitely the beginning of a planned action," Yevgeny Lobachev, a retired Major General of the Russian Federal Security Bureau, told Pravda.Ru.
The expert sees two purposes. The bombings were conducted to destabilize the situation in the country before the New Year holidays and prior to the Olympic Games in Sochi.
"A number of public and state Western leaders are now calling to boycott the Russian games. Every now and then they keep on reporting that someone else is not coming for the Olympics. These attacks are financed from abroad, most likely from Saudi Arabia, as the two Chechen wars showed. This is foreign influence, foreign control, foreign maintenance," said Evgeny Lobachev.
"There is every reason to believe that this is the beginning of a large-scale operation to destabilize Russia. We have a lot of enemies who seek to undermine our credibility, especially in the run-up to the Olympics," Saeed Gafurov, the scientific director of the Institute of Oriental and African Studies said.
He believes that the bombings were an act of revenge to the Russian Federation for Syria and a result of the flabbiness of Russian diplomacy.
"Russia made several mistakes in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf, where it showed generosity and softness in response to barbaric actions. We shouldn't have, for example, turned a blind eye on the beating of Ambassador Titarenko in Qatar. Officers of Qatari security forces received no punishment. It was a reason for war, and we just swallowed it. Russia said nothing when Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain either," said the expert. According to him, the Gulf monarchies "understand only fear and it is impossible to negotiate with them."
"They found this behavior as a sign of Russia's weakness and increased the funding for Wahhabi and other radical Islamist underground in Russia." Moreover, the expert said, the funding is conducted through public organizations that may not always be headquartered in Doha or Al Riyadh - some of them can be located in London, for instance." "Now, when it appears that government troops in Syria are winning the war, revenge to our country will only grow," says Gafurov.
These opinions can be supported with the data that transpired in August through Russia Today and several Western and Arab publications about the visit of the chief of military intelligence, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to Moscow. Bin Sultan said back then that he guaranteed safety at Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, if Russia made concessions in relation to its position on Syria. "Groups of Chechen fighters, who express different threats to the Olympic Games, are under our control," The Guardian quoted the prince.
Apart from financing and administration from outside, there are internal Russian factors that create fertile grounds for Islamic radicalism and terrorism.
"The problem is not only about foreign funding, but also about our internal reasons, Alexey Filatov, retired FSB colonel, veteran of anti-terrorist group Alpha, told Pravda.Ru. It goes about high level of social stratification and corruption, the expert explained. For example, the financing of criminal groups is carried out through taxation of local officials, who obtain their money from the federal budget. In addition, our police are too busy with less important things, like, for example, migration issue," Filatov said.
These social causes, in his opinion, are the basis for steady influx of new candidates for suicide bombings, and it is highly difficult for security services to handle the problem.
"One should also understand that in the 1990s, Russian security forces lost many professionals. It now takes decades to bring that all back," says Evgeny Lobachev.
Political analyst Saeed Gafurov does not share such fatalism. "Terrorists' financial, organizational, human, logistical resources are not limitless. Fatalism, therefore, is inappropriate. We should improve vigilance. If we can not completely exclude terrorist attacks today, then we can make them very expensive. To do this, we must all raise vigilance," he said.
The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, does not share a fatal point of view on the problem either. According to experts, he solved the issue of illegal criminal groups by calling to enact a law that "infinitely increased punishment" for terrorist activities and outlawed all radical movements, parties and groups."
Alexey Filatov believes that Russia should follow the example of the United States.
"We need to do what Americans do. We have to keep tabs on each and every person. This technology that Snowden exposed - prevention and control - has a real effect. Metal detectors are useless. One should be able to follow the enemy, rather than prohibit radical movements. Metal detectors on all exists and entrances do not help, this is a waste of money."
What other measures should the state take? It appears that Russia should strengthen diplomatic activities on the international arena, find leverage over Saudi Arabia and Qatar. One should prove facts, put up the question to discussion at international forums and organize diplomatic scandals. To crown it all, as Lebanese newspaper As-Safir wrote, President Vladimir Putin promised Prince Bandar to strike a "massive military blow" on terrorist training camps. Western analysts concluded that Russia was threatening Saudi Arabia.