Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, the second most wanted man in Chechnya, was killed in Chechnya by Russian commandoes. The Russians were tipped off by a local Chechen. Maskhadov was a former colonel in the Russian army artillery. He was elected president of the Chechen Republic after Russia withdrew its armed forces in the mid 1990s, while still claiming Chechnya as part of Russia. As president, Maskhadov was unable to rule. During the 1990s, criminal gangs did as they pleased in Chechnya, and preyed on neighboring areas, which were still controlled by Russia. Maskhadov also tolerated the growth of Islamic radical and al Qaeda organizations, that were using violence to establish an Islamic republic in the Caucasus. When the Russian army returned, Maskhadov became the front man for the various groups that resisted the return of Russian control. Maskhadov has always been mostly a figurehead. He died a figurehead, benefiting the current Russian government. His loss changes little, as most Chechens are now backing Russian rule, and most of the remaining rebels are pro-al Qaeda terrorists.