The Development of Chechen Terrorism

Chechen terrorists use new tactics in their activities

It is not really comfortable to consider, but there is a war going on in Russia. The war started in 1979 when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. One may also take the year 1994 as the starting point also - when the first Chechen campaign officially started. The war in the Caucasus started long before the Russian troops entered the Chechen capital Grozny: Abkhazia, Karabakh, Osetia, Sumgait.

The war does not want people to forget it, not even for a little while. First acts of terrorism conducted by Chechen terrorists were directly connected with army actions. Shamil Basayev's and Salman Raduyev's raids were not even categorized as acts of terrorism. First of all, they were subversive activities to destroy the enemy's forces in the rear. Taking hostages was perceived as a reserve, an almost hopeless retreating cover up. Second of all, the number of both terrorists and hostages did not fit the characteristics of terrorism at that time. The world knew only small terrorist groups, consisting of up to ten gunmen that were capable of taking 20 or 30 hostages. But storming a whole town, having more than a 100 gunmen, taking thousands of people hostages - that could not fit the notion of "terrorism" at all.

Explosions became the next stage of the Chechen terrorism. The explosive tactics was practiced in the Russian town of Kaspiisk. A powerful bomb destroyed an apartment building, where military men's families lived. Prior to the incident in Kaspiisk, Chechen gunmen (supposedly commanded by Salman Raduyev) blasted a military dormitory. Gunmen's activities were advancing, they were preparing to turn from subversive groups to terrorist groups.

Since the war is being waged on Russia, it would be strange, if Russia were indifferent to it. The period between the first and the second Chechen campaigns showed that there were several forces in the Caucasus that were interested in the war. Those forces cooperated, came into conflicts with each other in all possible forms. The first one of them, the most obvious one, is Islamic centers like al-Qaida. They are capable of funding and providing technical support to small armed groups. Their activities are closely linked with special services, especially the countries that wanted to strengthen their influence in the region. Superpowers' secret services are also implicated in the process, albeit in a rather indirect way - with the help of their allies that wish to control the regional politics on the whole. They contact secret services of former USSR states - they represent interests of the local elite that stakes on anti-Russian forces in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. Finally, certain Russian structures contact all those forces. They do not want to weaken Russia, although they feel very comfortable under the conditions of a permanent conflict, because they would lose their status in peaceful life. There is nothing surprising about the fact that such people as Salman Raduyev, who contact almost all sides of the conflict, mysteriously die.

Acts of terrorism in 1999in Moscow, Buinaksk and Volgodonsk marked the new stage of the Chechen terrorism. First of all, they revealed the political constituent. Of course, Vladimir Putin did not stage that show to win the election - the Chechens did everything themselves. Yet, there was someone, who had suggested the idea, someone definitely knew something. History does not know that person, but his presence is obvious. Apartment building in the mentioned cities were blasted with very powerful bombs, terrorists ignored the fact that the buildings were old, they did not use any special techniques for those acts either. Such actions require long preparations, for terrorists had to find explosive substances for the bombs, carry them over to Moscow, organize the transportation and storage, develop the operation in detail. An experienced commander can handle all that, if no one puts any obstacles on his way. An activity of such scale can hardly be kept secret for a long time. Nevertheless, acts of terrorism have happened. One has to confess that they have happened right on time.

Terrorists used the army tactics: bombs were delivered and stored, and the terrorist activity was then conducted autonomously. Explosions took place in the south of Moscow, storage facilities were found also in Moscow's south.

The next act of terrorism in the Moscow music theatre was another stage of the Chechen terrorism. One may guess that the Chechen terrorist center is trying to work in compliance with the up-to-date reality. On the other hand, the hostage crisis in October had a lot of things in common with other types of the terrorist activity. A large terrorist group seized a lot of hostages in one building, like it happened in the town of Budyonnovsk. Terrorists used a lot of powerful bombs, as they did in 1999 in Moscow. To crown it all, Chechens used the experience of the Palestinian terrorism - suicidal terrorists. Apparently, the tragedy in the music theatre has finally exhausted terrorists' resources in the south of Moscow.

The terrorist war is currently becoming economical. Terrorists do not have a goal to kill a lot of people. Their prime goal is to impress the society. Explosions in Moscow's Tushino district last Saturday were very efficient in this respect. Obviously, there were not just two suicidal bombers in the terrorist act. Someone paid for their trip to Moscow, someone met them at a railway station and took them to the Tushino airdrome, someone made bomb belts for them - the two girls could not take bombs along from Chechnya. Someone found bearing balls for the balls - they are produced at one Moscow factory only - GPZ-1 (the factory situated not far from the music theatre). As a result, the bombs killed 15 people and wounded 60. If terrorists have a storage facility somewhere in the north-west of Moscow, one may expect a lot of new blasts. It is worth mentioning here that the Moscow's district of Mitino is situated in the north-west of Moscow too: there are a lot of industrial and storage facilities there. Any large city is a perfect target for terrorists.

Anna Kolchak

Author`s name Margarita Kicherova