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How to plug the suicide bomber'sbelt?
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, 24 2010
1Boris Karnaukhov, deputy director of investigations for the prosecutor general's office in the North Caucasus and Southern Russia: Better to try the rebels, than to destroy them. During the last general meeting of the Russian FSB, during which the fight against terrorism was discussed, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed that the criminal acts in Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya demonstrate that terrorism remains the most serious threat to society. On what is now happening in the troubled republics, Moscow Komsomolets talked with the acting vice-chairman of the investigative committee under the Russian prosecutor's general's office, chief of investigations in the North Caucasus and Southern federal districts, Boris Karnaukhov. Boris Mikhailovich (Karnaukhov), all the Caucasus's problem republics lie in your area of responsibility, so you know the situation firsthand. Nowthat they are a separate district, will this affect your work in any way? Investigators led by my department still carry out a preliminary investigations of criminal cases involving crimes committed in the territories of both the South and the North Caucasus federal districts. Andthe number of criminal cases in the latter account for the vast majority. Administrative and territorial changes, in my opinion, have more of an effect on the socio-economic situation in the region, and this in turn can have a positive effect on the crime situation. There are constant news reports about the liquidation of militants. ThePresident of the Russian Federation said that they destroyed over five hundred in the last year. Isanything changing? "We can't say that the elimination of militants in itself can fundamentally change the crime situation in the Caucasus. First of all, it should be noted that the destruction of such individuals is due to extreme necessity, related to fierce armed resistance when security forces attempt their arrest. "From the point of view of criminal law, of course, it would be much more valuable to arrest these criminals and bring them to justice. Thiswould give us valuable information on the sources and mechanisms that finance terrorist activities, as well as the structure and participants of the criminal underground. "The consequences of eliminating militants may also vary. Itcould provoke relatives of the dead militants to join illegal groups in order to avenge themselves on the law enforcement agencies, or lead them to quit their ranks when a leader is destroyed. Withthe numbers of militants killed in the past, there has a decrease in the number of crimes committed against the authorities in the Chechen Republic, but a sharp increase in the Republic of Dagestan. Wahhabi groups continue to operate in he region, conspiring as participants in the structures of illegal groups. Atthe disposal of the terrorists are significant amounts of money and modern technology that they use to direct the commission of crimes and conceal their tracks. Extremist groups are in fact organized criminal networks. Theyattack government representatives, organizations and agencies, as well as police and military personnel. Theactions of these groups affect the local population by spreading ideas and extremist literature of radical Islamic movements. Liquidations of militants are actively used for extremist propaganda. Theydistort the real picture and paint the dead criminals as 'fighters for the true faith'. Why do people take up arms and go to the mountains? Itis unlikely that they also wish to live according to the very harsh dictates of Sharia law. "I think you underestimate the influence of religion in the lives of inhabitants of the Muslim North Caucasus republics. Islam is the tradition of the region. Itsinfluence has always been strong, including that period of forced atheism occurring in our country starting in 1917. Butliving under Sharia law, and joining representatives of the radical Islamic movements calling for the overthrow of the existing order and committing crimes this is a different concept. Religious leaders of traditional Islam actively condemn the latter. The main destabilizing factors in this case are: the critical condition of the economy, many unresolved social and national problems, many persons’ declining living standards and education, explicit property stratification of society, and existing conflicts in inter-ethnic and inter-clan relations. Increased illegal trafficking in arms, ammunition and explosives, the introduction from abroad of extremist ideologies due to the geopolitical interests of the West and the Middle East, are also among the reasons motivating people to break the law. Butoften the reason is just plain self-interest, since many crimes are committed for money, without any kind of ideological motivation. Does the peaceful populace support the bandits? "This question can not be answered unequivocally. Inaccordance with current Russian criminal law, accomplices of criminals are complicit in the crime, that is, they themselves have violated the law. Concealment of a crime subjects one to criminal liability, including imprisonment. Exempt from such liabilities, however, are spouses and close relatives of the perpetrator. So, speaking about the peaceful populace as a whole is not entirely correct. As a result, law enforcement activities are aimed at identifying members of illegal armed units, criminal groups, and their supporters. Lastyear they identified more than 320persons as being participants at various times, and providing militants with housing, clothing, medicines, money, weapons, and information the movements of law enforcement and armed forces personnel in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. In2008 there were 366persons identified. Last year the suicide bombers returned. "The first time suicide bombers carried out attacks in the North Caucasus was in the summer of 2000, after the transition from military confrontation to a guerrilla warfare. Islamic radicals provided substantial assistance to the Chechens, but they remained on the sidelines during the first Chechen war, which was conducted under nationalistic slogans. Thesecond Chechen war, however, was already a part of the global jihad of 'warriors of Allah' against 'infidels and apostates'. Inthe mid-1990's there was not a single suicide bombing. Theuse of suicide bombers, technically, is contrary to Chechen tradition and mentality, since with the very high morale of the Chechens they did not even need such tactics. Since the beginning of this century Arab mercenaries put the entire leadership of the Republic of Ichkeria under their control, and brought these tactics to Chechnya. "The history of the use of 'living bombs' in the North Caucasus can be divided into two peaks: the first from 2000to 2003, and the second starting last year. Thetactic spread outside Chechnya and has touched nearby Ingushetia and Dagestan. Between these peaks of activity, suicide bombings occurred in North Ossetia, Stavropol, and Moscow. Lawenforcement agencies, as a result of special operations, can periodically eliminate or delay potential suicide bombers. "But the massive use of suicide bombers and their effect on the North Caucasus is far from the scale used by their Afghan and Iraqi colleagues. Theintensity of Afghan suicide bombings has not decreased and is keeping at roughly 2006levels, when the tactic was used by the Taliban on an average of 140times per year. InIraq, conversely, over the past two years the curve has gone down. Authorship of the term 'servants of Satan' in describing suicide bombers has been attributed by many to the current Prime Minister of Iraq. Itis Iraq that holds the 'record', all other users of suicide bombings simply pale in comparison. Overthere the peak years were 2005and 2007, with 478and 442cases of 'living bombs', respectively. Lastyear in Iraq, however, only 30suicide bombers made it to ‘heaven’ by detonating their suicide bomb belts or blowing up car bombs. Overall, since 2003around 1700attacks by suicide bombers have rocked Iraq. Thus, the use of suicide bombers is a fairly common way of committing acts of terrorism around the world. But where do they get the suicide bombers that cause this phenomenon? "Firstly, filling the role of 'living bombs' in the North Caucasus are mainly women and youths. Perhaps the experienced fighters believe that they have no reason to wear a suicide belt because they bring experience that is much more useful in a guerrilla war and should not 'waste' themselves in single actions. Butit is also quite likely that they would not even be able to close the contacts on the bomb, even if they were draped with explosives. Noteveryone is able to blow himself up. It's a question of psychology. Onemay recall, for example, the capture of Dubrovka the fall of 2002. Outof Movsar Barayev's gang, only the women were prepared to become martyrs, only they wore belts with explosives. Forthis purpose it is much easier to use the widows of slain militants. Inthe Caucasus, when a woman loses a husband, his death is not just the end of their married life, but also her purpose in life itself. Youths are indoctrinated by playing on a combination of their hopeless present and a future that is just as bleak. "The second feature of the terrorist attacks using suicide bombers is, for the most part, a 'lack of experience' with terrorism on the part of these women and young people, because in each case the numbers killed and wounded are usually no more than a dozen. Theleast 'effective' attack recognized was an attack occurring on September 12th, in a high school in Grozny. Itkilling only the 23-year-old suicide bomber, thought three policemen were also wounded. "Preparation of such martyrs is conducted by group method, using a specially developed technique of 'zombifying' technology, and through teaching and training assignments that create harsh motivational settings with appropriate attributes and rituals. "During the past year in Chechnya 9people became 'living bombs'. There were 4in the Republic of Ingushetia, and 1in the Republic of Dagestan. Typically the suicide bombers set off improvised explosive devices in the form of 'martyr's belts' worn on the body and hidden under clothing, and stuffed with various metal objects such as bolts and scrap metal that improves the damage of the explosion. There are also a few cases were suicide bombers drove cars filled with explosives. As a result of this method of committing a crime, many, if not all, evidence is eliminated. Theexplosion destroys not only the target that was supposed to be destroyed, but also the explosive device that was used as a weapon, and traces of the criminal's presence and actions at the crime scene. Suicide bombings make it almost impossible to identify who carried it out. Bandits have begun to choose security forces as targets. Earlier they attacked the civilian populace. "In connection with amendments made to criminal law in 2006, the definition of a terrorist act has been narrowed considerably. Fora crime to now qualify as an act of terrorism there must exist targets that impact on policy-making or international organizations. "And so, as strange as this may sound, terrorist attacks have become extremely rare crimes in our country. "Nevertheless, civilians continue to suffer from bandits who choose this dangerous way of committing crimes against the government, regardless of any possible losses among the civilian population. "In 2009the Southern Federal District had 641attempts on the lives of law enforcement and military personnel. In2008 there were 491, an increase of 30%. "In the past year the largest number of attacks on the lives of law enforcement officials was committed in Dagestan, with 213. Thatis an increase of 110% over 2008. InIngushetia there were 204, an increase of 5%. Inthe Chechen Republic there were 190, up by 42%. Lastyear in the Southern Federal District 251law enforcement officers and servicemen, and 32civilians, were slain. In2008 there were 210security officials and 12civilians killed. Lastyear in the Southern Federal District 727officers and 85civilians were injured, while in 2008there were 484officers and 68civilians injured. In most cases attacks on law enforcement officers are committed using improvised explosive devices, either placed under the victim's car or along their route, or by automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire against vehicles, traffic police kiosks, and offices and homes of police officers. All of these local features that we discussed, have they greatly complicated your work? Asfar as Iknow, in order to successfully solve a crime it is often necessary to involve investigators from other regions. "There are certain problems associated with operating in the North Caucasus, including a lack of efficient local law enforcement. Engaging investigators from other regions is practiced to form investigative teams to solve serious crimes that arose great public interest, or are particularly difficult to investigate. "In January of 2009, in accordance with a joint order, an investigative and operational task force was established to investigate criminal cases. 17of the 24officers from the staff of the prosecutor general's investigations department that arriving in Vladikavkaz were subjects of the Russian Federation. There was also an operational group from the Interior Ministry. Thetotal size of the group was about 170people. As a result of the group's work, a number of high-profile murders were solved in the territory of North Ossetia, including the assassinations of Vladikavkaz Mayor Vitaly Karaev, former Mayor Kazbek Pagiev and his driver, and Vitaly Cherdiev, the chief of the Criminal Investigation Department in the Republic of North Ossetia, as well as his son. At what stage are the investigations of recent high-profile cases? "During the investigation of the assassination attempt on Yunus-Bek Evkurov, president of the Republic of Ingushetia, the main group of organizers and perpetrators of the crime has been determined. Placed on the wanted list were Ali Taziev (Magas), Aleksandr Tikhomirov (alias Sayeed Buryat), Mohammed Tsokiev, and Adam Totchiev. Three major participants in the crime Abdul-Malik Aliyev, Aslan Batygov, and Rustam Dzortov were destroyed. "During the investigation into a terrorist attack perpetrated on August 17th, 2009, in the Nazran district, in which 21people died and more than 300were injured, one of the participants in the crime Maskhud Chibiev was arrested and prosecuted. Fivepersons, including Aleksandr Tikhomirov whom Imentioned earlier, were put on the wanted list and three have been destroyed. Bythe way, information that it was Tikhomirov who was driving the Gazelle that was blown up in Nazran appeared on the Internet, but there has been no objective evidence found. Also noteworthy is an investigation into a blast that occurred on December 17th, 2009, along the Caucasus federal highway. Thevehicle was a Lada Prior located near the Volga-16 post of the Republic of Ingushetia Interior Ministry automobile inspection service. Theidentity of the perpetrator was determined on the first day of the investigation, and work continues on establishing the organizers and accessories.
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1. Written by website, on 28-02-201020:45
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