March 08, 2005

Chechen Terrorist Leader Killed

Aslan Maskhadov, the leader of Chechnya's rebellion, has been killed by Russian forces.

Muskhadov had a $10 million dollar bounty on his head and was considered the most wanted man in Russia. Maskhadov had led the Chechen rebellion in the early 1990s until a cease-fire was negotiated with then President Boris Yeltsin.

Maskhadov was a bitter rival to the al Qaeda linked Shamil Basayev. Basayev has been linked to the Beslan massacres and has promised more Beslan like attacks in the future. Maskhadov ran against Basayev in 1997 for the Chechen Presidency and won.

Maskhadov was later driven out of office by the Russians when he declared Chechnya an independent state.

The press reports that Maskhadov was simply a leader of a nationalist movement in Chechnya are mistaken. Maskhadov is accused of planning the hostage crisis at the Nord-Ost theater in Moscow. 129 hostages later died, mostly as the result of a botched rescue operation.

Further, the MSM likes to portray Maskhadov as a moderate, contrasting him to the al Qaeda linked Basayev, but Maskhadov's nationalism was tied closely to his Muslim identity. His army is composed of jihadis drawn from around the world to repel the infidel invaders (Russia). Clearly, Maskhadov was a jihadi who saw his mission to end the 400 year old Russian control of Chechnya as a religious imperetive.

Images: (top) Reuters photo of the dead Maskhadov. (bottom) Maskhadov pauses to say prayers with his army of jihadis. (below) Russian television station NTV airs video of Maskhadov dead on the street.


Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s FSB domestic security service, reported the death of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov to Vladimir Putin on Tuesday evening.

Patrushev confirmed earlier reports saying that Maskhadov, one of Russia’s most wanted men, was killed during a security raid in the town of Tolstoi Yurt in Chechnya. His body had been identified.

Patrushev said that Russian security forces suffered no casualties during the raid. On his part, President Putin instructed Patrushev to carry out additional expert examinations. “Should those reports be confirmed, all the participants of the operation are to be put forward for state awards,” he said.

Russia’s NTV network broadcast footage of the shirtless body of a man it identified as Maskhadov lying on the ground amid debris.

Meanwhile, Ramzan Kadyrov, deputy prime minister in the pro-Moscow Chechen government and son of the late president of Chechnya Akhmad Kadyrov, said Tuesday that Maskhadov’s death was an accident. Security forces had planned to capture him alive, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported citing Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov said Maskhadov was killed mishandling a weapon.

The article also blames Maskhadov for involvement in the Beslan school massacre, but Maskhadov has denied involvemnt in it instead blaming Basayev. For instance, this earlier Mosnews report:
Moscow blames Maskhadov for a string of deadly operations in Russia, including an attack on a Moscow theater, a bombing opposite the Kremlin and an armed action against a school in the south Russian town of Beslan. At least 326 hostages — half of them children — died at the school in Beslan last year.

Moscow also links Maskhadov, and field commander Shamil Basayev, to groups that conducted attacks such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Recently Maskhadov had called for talks with Moscow on Chechen demands for independence, but the Kremlin insists it will not negotiate with terrorists. Some critics of Moscow’s policies in Chechnya saw Maskhadov as more moderate than Basayev and a man with whom the Kremlin could negotiate.

Russian leaders, fearing a breakaway by Chechnya could trigger secession moves by other regions in the sprawling federation, have fought two wars in Chechnya.

Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov -- who had a $10 million bounty on his head -- has been killed by Russian troops, according to Russian news agencies.

Russian NTV television showed Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev telling President Vladimir Putin that Maskhadov had been killed in a "special operation" in the village of Tolstoy-Yurt.

CNN's Jill Dougherty said that Russian NTV television had shown pictures of a shirtless bearded corpse that resembled Maskhadov.

She said he had been hiding in a bunker when he died, according to Russian news agency reports.

Russian troops had wanted to take him alive, she said, but according to reports in Moscow the weapons of his bodyguards "were either misused or something went awry."

Earlier Tuesday, Russian officials reported that three rebels who were planning a large terrorist attack on the administration building in Tolstoy-Yurt had been detained.

hat tip: venom & Bill Dauterieve

Others: James Joyner

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:06 PM | Comments |