Chechen militants continue preparation for new attacks at the districts of Dagestan and the Stavropol territory bordering with Chechnya, as well as for terrorist acts. Sources in the Russian security agencies report that these acts are being planned with financial and material support of Islamic extremists and foreign terrorist organizations.
For example, military sources in Makhachkala reported to Interfax that in some villages of Dagestan activities of wahhabis are registered. They are carrying out active propaganda among the local population, building defensive installations, and are preparing for combat operations. Thus, according to intelligence, in Lutkun village in southern Dagestan up to 65 armed Vahhabis are operating among which are emissaries of Shamil Basaev. In Nizhny Katrukh and Verkhny Katrukh several tens of militants were also detected. According to available information, brothers Magomed and Nadirshakh Khachilaev stay in Kuma village. In the neighboring villages concentration of their armed supporters who are digging trenches and building bunkers is observed.
According to Igor Zubov, Deputy Interior Minister, “strength of the bandit detachments in Chechnya which are to be eliminated amounts to 25,000-30,000 people, including 5,000-7,000 people who have been trained in the training camps of Khattab, and about 7,000 people from the Chechen security agencies who are uncontrollable by President Aslan Maskhadov. These forces can also rely on the wahhabis in the national republics of the Russian Federation, as well as on a part of Chechen population which possesses weapons, and is ready to fight for the militants for money,” added Zurabov. He adds that foreign mercenaries, in particular, the modjaheddins from Afghanistan who supply Khattab with weapons and combat vehicles, can also actively support the militants.
Commenting on the statements of Basaev about organization of the so-called “battalion of kamikaze” for operations against the federal forces Zurabov stressed that “Basaev is fond of making loud statements including the statements which can be attributed to imagination.” Interior Ministry heard this statement, but does not have any information about such a battalion of Basaev, stressed Zubov.
Meanwhile in Dagestan federal forces do not conduct any combat operations yet, but the Air Force started intensive bombing of Chechnya. Obviously these attacks are due to coming of the season of fogs and rains in the North Caucasus within six weeks. The information has leaked to the mass media that the Defense Ministry’s command plans to destroy the main bases of terrorists in Chechnya before this season starts.
At the dawn of September 23 Gerzel, Meskety, Ishkhoy-Yury, and Gilyany villages of the Nozhay-Yury District of Chechnya were attacked, reported Hussein Akhmadov, State Secretary of Chechnya. According to him, in Meskety alone five people were killed, many people were wounded, and many buildings were destroyed.
On the same day for the first time after signing of the Khasavyurt agreements the federal aviation attacked the airport of sheik Mansur in Grozny and northern suburbs of the Chechen capital. Umar Bankurov, Deputy Chief of Staff of President Maskhadov, reported that the Chechen armed forces were instructed to abstain from firing at the airplanes not to provoke their further raids.
Premier Vladimir Putin has decisively supported the air raids at Chechnya. Representatives of the Defense Ministry also made corresponding statements implying that the air raids against Chechnya would be continued. Thus we see a situation similar to the Yugoslav situation. Meanwhile it is obvious that without a ground operation attacking of the terrorists from the air will hardly be successful and efficient. Along with this specialist set the task of killing of Basaev and Khattab, chiefs of the Chechen radical islamists.
For destruction of the terrorists and their forces retired General Boris Gromov, a Duma deputy and famous veteran of the war in Afghanistan, even offers announcement of a money reward for information about the terrorists, and implementation of economic sanctions against the regions where bases of the terrorists exist.
“it is necessary to eradicate the economic and financial roots of the Chechen militants in Moscow and other large Russian cities,” added Gromov. According to him, the militants currently have enough weapons because in early 1990’s the Russian Armed Forces failed to withdraw their weapons and combat equipment from Chechnya. Expressing his attitude towards arrangement of a “sanitary cordon” around the administrative border of Chechnya Gromov stressed that he is against this. According to his calculations, arrangement of such a cordon will require “three fully manned and armed divisions and 30-35 billion rubles.”
Meanwhile Nikolai Kovalev, former Director of the Federal Security Service, speaks about a possibility of physical liquidation of terrorists. In his interview to Argumenty i Fakty he said: “Russian special services have commandos who are able to kill the leaders of Chechen militants, but they do not have a relevant order.” According to him, “such actions can be theoretically conducted in accordance with a court sentence.”
Answering the question how long will explosions of residential houses in Russia continue Kovalev said: “Alas, I cannot say anything soothing. The process has been neglected for a long time, and not only the Khasavyurt agreements are to blame for this. Our problem is that we are too inconsequent in our actions. The actions of the authorities are unpredictable, and they do not trust abilities of their subordinates.”
With regard to the further development of the events Kovalev commented: “Wars do not stop at the borders. If in 1945 we stopped on the border of Poland, we would have still fought against the fascism.”
Meanwhile confirming conclusions of Kovalev about indecisiveness of Moscow Zubov reported that “Interior Ministry does not plan any special operations for physical liquidation of Basaev and Khattab.”
According to him, “federal legislation does not make any provisions about any special measures for physical liquidation of certain persons, an we do not take them.” However if the legislative base is formed for this, such operations will be conducted, concluded Zubov.
Such an indecisiveness, to put it mild, of a security agency director is surprising. All over the world leaders of terrorists are being physically liquidated. Why cannot Moscow conduct a court hearing and sentence the organizers of terrorist acts in Russia to death?
However the words of Zubov can be taken as a misinformation. Sergei Glotov, observer of Interfax, says that the Russian security agencies consider a possibility of organization of special operations “for neutralization” of some Chechen field commanders including Basaev and Khattab who commanded the militants who invaded Dagestan. According to him, a source in security agencies pointed out that “organization of special operations against the leaders of terrorist groups has been planned since the time of combat operations in Chechnya.” “Moscow is not going to forgive Basaev for capturing of the hospital in Budennovsk, and Khattab for subversion operations in Yarysh-Mardy and Serzhen-Yurt which resulted in deaths of hundreds of federal servicemen,” stressed a representative of one of the special services in his interview to Interfax.
Preparation of “neutralization” of the leaders of Chechen terrorists has been suspended after beginning of negotiations between the federal center and Grozny about the status of Chechnya. However the recent invasion of Dagestan and a series of residential houses explosions in Buinaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk which resulted in numerous losses among civilians once again made this problem vital.
According to the sources of Interfax, at the bases of Russian security agencies teams are already being prepared for a possible organization of special operations “for neutralization” of the militants’ leaders. The problem is that the current legislation does not give a right to special services to physically eliminate terrorists. And at present it is practicality impossible to remove the bandits from Chechnya where the local authorities practically do not control the situation to hand them over to justice.
Representatives of security agencies remind that during the combat operations in Chechnya a range of special operations for liquidation of militants’ leaders was conducted. As a result several so-called field commanders have been killed. The sources add that special operations were also organized against Salman Raduev, a son-in-law of Dzhokhar Dudaev, former Chechen leader, who organized an attack at Kizlyar (Dagestan). He was heavily wounded but remained alive. The operation for liquidation of Dudaev himself has received a broad publicity. Although he mass media reported in detail how it was conducted (a signal of a radio phone was intercepted, and a missile was launched to its location), not a single federal security agency boasted that it conducted this operation yet.
According to Interfax, official representatives of security agencies say that so far they did not receive any orders about launching of special operations for neutralization of terrorists’ leaders. However Alexander Zdanovich, PR director of the Federal Security Service, reported to Interfax that the anti-terrorist teams are permanently kept in the state of increased readiness. “Such is the specifics of this service,” added Zdanovich.
Thus a probability of physical elimination of the terrorists’ leaders exists. Whether it is brought into life depends on the will and resolution of the security agencies and country’s authorities.