May 14, 2003
Security Still an Illusion in Chechnya
Monday's truck bombing in Chechnya, which killed at least 54 people and injured more than 300, once again highlights how ephemeral are illusions of safety and security even in such "safe" districts of Chechnya as Nadterechny.
Federal and local officials can again publicly vow to enhance security and weed out the terrorists, but neither more troops nor more sophisticated weapons will make Chechnya a safer place.
We know all too well that sheer military might and aggressive intelligence often fail to interdict suicide bombers as is the case in Israel.
At this moment it remains unclear what drove the suicide trio in that explosives-laden truck. They might have been trying to avenge relatives killed by federal troops' indiscriminate or discriminate fire or maybe they wanted to die for an independent Chechnya or both. Or they may have been members of an international terrorist network as President Vladimir Putin implied when he said the attack in Chechnya "bore the same imprint" as a series of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia on Monday night, which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell quickly blamed on al-Qaida.
But it should become clear to the Kremlin and Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration that Chechen warlords no longer find it difficult to find someone motivated to die, as Monday's attack and the Dubrovka hostage crisis prove.
That this was the second major suicide bombing -- after the horrendous explosion at the government premises in Grozny in December -- in which not Russian troops but pro-Russian Chechen authorities were targeted speaks for itself.
Monday's attack demonstrates a growing and violent schism in Chechen society, where ethnic solidarity and fear of blood vendetta traditionally restrained violence for centuries. Now this Chechen solidarity has fallen victim to Moscow's imperial approach of divide and rule.
Putting an end to abuses of civilians by federal and local law enforcers and negotiations with moderate Chechen warlords will help to tame the violence, but it may be already too late to stop it.