#6 - JRL 7219
June 9-15, 2003
SUICIDE BOMBERS ARE THE MOST PERFECT WEAPON
Chechnya's terrorists are becoming more organized
Author: Pavel Felgengauer
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE RECENT BOMBINGS IN CHECHNYA INDICATE THAT THE SITUATION THERE IS A LONG WAY FROM IMPROVING. TO ALL APPEARANCES, CHECHEN TERRORISTS HAVE ACQUIRED A COMPREHENSIVE ORGANIZATION COORDINATING THEIR ACTIVITIES. ALL THE RECENT ATTACKS BY TERRORISTS SEEM TO HAVE TAKEN THE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES BY SURPRISE.
The Defense Ministry recently summed up federal casualties in the North Caucasus from October 1, 1999 to December 23, 2002: 4,572 dead and 15,549 wounded. Over the past three years, according to official data, the federal death toll has averaged 117 soldiers a month, with another 399 wounded. The official pro-Kremlin propaganda presented these figures as an achievement, since during the first war in Chechnya, and the war in Afghanistan, the monthly casualties were higher.
However, in Russia the ruling regime always presents itself as being better than the previous regime in all respects, and always finds appropriate statistics to prove it. The Defense Ministry's Military History Institute says that the real casualty figures for the first war in Chechnya were 35,000 higher than the official statistics.
In terms of causing casualties among the enemy, the guerrilla tactics of Chechen separatists seem quite convincing. However, they don't make any sense politically. Russia replaces soldiers who are killed or wounded, and helicopters which are shot down. Kremlin officials are laughing: around 40,000 people a year die in car accidents on Russia's bad roads, and the casualties in Chechnya are nothing compared to this figure. The public is tolerating this situation so far, so there is no reason to change policy regarding the conflict in Chechnya.
During the first war in Chechnya, the late president Djokhar Dudaev threatened to make Russian cities "disaster zones". However, successful terrorism requires a properly coordinated organization. Now such an organization seems to be appearing.
The latest terrorist attacks - the bombing of the government building in Grozny on December 27 and recent explosions in Znamenskoe, Iliskhan-Yurt, and Mozdok - were thoroughly planned and carried out; and all of them involved suicide bombers. According to witnesses, the female suicide bomber in Mozdok ignored a bus carrying Air Defense troops, who are not directly involved in the war; but she blew up a bus carrying personnel from the fourth army of the Air Force, which is bombing parts of Chechnya.
This bombing was not like the actions of suicide bombers in Israel, for example, where such explosions can take place anywhere. Chechen terrorists have effective intelligence, planning structures, and units of bombers and technical facilities.
The guerrillas also have their own counter-intelligence branch, neutralizing informers working for Russian special services. All the recent attacks by terrorists seem to have taken the federal authorities by surprise. By the way, the district department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) was bombed in Znamenskoe.
Meanwhile, the federal authorities have been recruiting agents and assigning them to guerrilla camps for many years. And if they haven't been successful by now, they never will be; and the initiative will pass to the terrorists.
(Translated by Kirill Frolov)