Russia: February 13, 2004

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As Chechen rebels have taken more casualties over the years, the role of foreign volunteers has grown. A 36 year old Saudi Arabian, Abu-al-Walid al-Ghamidi, is reported to be the leader of several hundred foreign (mainly Arab and Turkish) fighters operating in Chechnya. Al-Ghamidi is a conservative Moslem of the Wahhabi sect (as are most member of al Qaeda and most Saudis.) Al-Ghamidi was crucial in introducing suicide bombing to the Chechen war and is thought to be behind the last few major suicide bombing attacks. Al-Ghamidi and his men spend a lot of their time in bases across the border in Georgia. Russia has tense relations with Georgia because of that, and because several Soviet era Russian bases in Georgia are still operating. The Russians refuse Georgian requests to shut the bases and leave, and are not happy with the Georgian decision to accept military aid from the United States.

 

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