Counter-Terrorism: Defeat in the Caucasus
July 16, 2006: While the death of Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Basayev on July 10th has received considerable attention, it's also worth noting that perhaps as many as a dozen other people were killed with him. So far, no one in Russia has said anything officially about these people. There are, however, rumors that some of them were key players in the Chechen rebel movement. If that is so, their deaths, coupled with those of Basayev and of Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, the rebel "president," less than a month ago, may have fatally weakened the rebel movement. Basayev was also the leader of the "Islamic" faction of the Chechen rebel movement. Most Chechens just want the Russians out, but Basayev hooked up with Islamic conservatives a decade ago. With money from Saudi Arabian religious charities, and terrorism advice from al Qaeda, Basayev sought to unite all the Moslem peoples of the Caucasus (over fifty different ethnic groups) into one Islamic republic. This was clearly impossible, but Basayev appealed to the wild-eyed minority in the region, and became the poster boy for sticking it to the Russians (who have dominated the region for two centuries.) But with Basayev and his key aides dead, yet another Caucasus resistance hero passes, and things will settle down until another one shows up in a generation or so.