Counter-Terrorism: Russia To Show The Americans How It's Done in Iraq

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June 29, 2006: In Iraq, the Russians are about to show the Americans how it's done. Or at least try to. After four Russian embassy personnel were recently murdered by terrorists, many experienced counter-terrorism professionals expected the Russians to act. Russia, over some two centuries, has developed some very successful techniques for dealing with terrorists. When confronted with terrorist attacks like this, the Russians go in and play by terrorist rules. They terrorize the terrorists. Back in the 1980s, for example, Islamic terrorists in Lebanon kidnapped a Russian diplomat. The Russians (then the Soviets, a distinction without much difference in these matters) quickly found out which faction had their guy, kidnapped a relative of one of the kidnappers, and had a body part delivered to the Islamic kidnappers. The message was, release the Russian diplomat unharmed, or the KGB (Soviet secret police) would keep sending body parts, and grabbing kinfolk of the kidnappers. The Russian diplomat was released. Apparently that lesson has been forgotten, at least in some parts of Iraq.
This time around, the Russians let the Americans and Iraqis deal with retrieving their four diplomatic personnel. The Russians blame the Americans for not getting their guys back alive, and now say that they will show the Americans how to proceed in these matters. That may be a little more complicated than the Lebanon operation. Back then, Lebanon was in chaos, in the middle of a civil war. These days, there is a pretty strong government in Iraq, with over 250,000 security personnel. And then there are 150,000 coalition troops. All of these people may not have been able to find the four Russian embassy staff, but they can get in the way of Russian secret police searching for the kidnappers. Not that it's impossible for the Russians to do what they want to do, but it will be under more complicated conditions. Then again, the Iraqi government and the Coalition may simply give the Russians a free hand, with the usual admonition to avoid making too much of a mess. Moreover, Russia has developed a lot of contacts in the Middle East over the years, and seems prepared to call in some favors to get the job done. Whatever the case, it's going to be an interesting example of Old School counter-terrorism.

 


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