Russia: October 13, 2004


So far this year, at least 278 people have been kidnapped for ransom in Chechnya. Of that number, 106 were freed, 20 were killed and 122 are still missing. The kidnap victims were mostly civilians (98), although 81 were police and security officers, eight were government officials and 22 were rebels. Before the Russian invasion in 1999, Chechen gangs were kidnapping over a thousand people a year in areas adjacent to Chechnya. But with the presence of  so many Russian police and soldiers in Chechnya, the gangs can, at best, nab people in Chechnya. Some of the gangs, especially the one led by Shamil Basayev, have concentrated on terrorism and extortion (to pay gang expenses). Basayev is also thought to receive money from wealthy Moslems in the Persian Gulf, who support al Qaeda's goals.  


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