Bin Laden’s Death and the Russian Insurgency


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Basayev led the 1999 invasion of Dagestan that triggered the second Chechen war. The Russians finally killed Basayev in a targeted assassination in 2006. Russia has continued its policy of targeted assassinations of Islamist terrorist leaders in the Caucasus, but thus far have been unable to get to the Emirate’s current leader, Dokku Umarov.

Gordon Hahn, of the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, wrote of one such attempt in March.

“It appears that Russian forces just missed killing CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov in a special operation that culminated in aviation bombing the mountains near the village of Verkhnii Akhul in Sunzha Raion, Ingushetia on March 28th,” Hahn wrote. “Umarov’s naib (deputy) Supyan Abdullaev, who had been fighting for 17 years, was killed in the operation along with at least six other mujahedin. Initial reports claimed 17 mujahedin had been killed in the air attack. Some Russian media have been reporting that not only Umarov’s naib but also his wife, his doctor Yusup Buzurtanov, and the amir of the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade (RSMB) of suicide bombers ‘Khamzat’ Aslan Byutukaev were also killed in the operation.”

Hahn notes that Russian reports initially claimed Umarov was killed in the attack, though this was the seventh time such reports had circulated. A man claiming to be Umarov—and most likely was—called Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about a week later to inform them that he was not killed in the operation. But Hahn also had some good news for the Russians—since they killed Umarov’s deputy in the attack, if they are now able to remove Umarov it will throw the Emirate into chaos.

Thus the American and Russian focus on targeted assassinations reveals the two most compelling reasons to pursue such a policy. In the case of bin Laden, his death provides both a moral and strategic boost for Western anti-terror efforts. In the case of Umarov, it would throw the terrorist organization into crisis from which it could only emerge on the conclusion of an internal power struggle. At the very least it would buy Russia time—but it could also deal a crippling blow to an organization that derives its strength not from numbers, but from leadership.

One more reminder that the Caucasus Islamists are part of the global jihadist movement came when Aslan Yemkuzhev was killed March 16 in a firefight with Russian police in Kabardino-Balkaria. Yemkuzhev, it turned out, trained with Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon—a Palestinian-founded terrorist group with possible ties to al-Qaeda.

Russia should not be excused its corruption, dismal human rights record, or the steady erosion of freedom that began under Boris Yeltsin and continued under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev—but neither should the Islamist threat emanating from its frontier be ignored.

Seth Mandel is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern politics and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center.

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  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

    OBAMA'S 19TH LIE ABOUT THE MISSION TO KILL BIN LADIN

    Fox News counted 18 lies or "untruths" related to the administrations muddled story about the operation to capture/kill Osama bin Ladin. But there is a 19th lie misssed by Fox, the biggest whopper of them all: the whopper about Obama's canceled authorization to bomb bin Ladin's compound.

    Click my name to read my widelylinked piece: Why Obama Delayed The Mission To Kill Bin Laden, And His 19th Lie.

    • kinggeorge

      RIGHT ON BROTHER APOLLO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chezwick_mac

    I don't agree with Pat Buchanan over very much, but his assertion that "demography is destiny" is certainly a truism. Whatever Russia is today…sometimes friend, sometimes foe, later this century it will certainly have – just like like France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Belgium and Holland – a Muslim majority. Our strategic planners better be paying attention.

  • patriotwork

    Mr. Mandel makes a valid point. I have wondered for awhile why we didn't support Russia on this sometimes, instead of automaticly jumping astride its back every time a terrorist incident occurs there and it has to defend itself.

    Whp'n the world was it shot Osama?
    Media are saying Obama.
    But O was goofing off
    Playing nine holes of golf.
    Did he die from a stray golf ball trauma?

  • Steve Chavez

    I call it "PUTIN'S REVENGE!" The United States aided in the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan which was then one of the puzzles pieces that led to the downfall of the Wall, the Iron Curtain, and the Soviet Union itself! The Mighty Red Army was defeated by a ragtag bunch of unprofessionals. Our Stinger was the turning point!

    KGB Putin and our American Communists, their dupes, fronts, and unknowing followers and Democrat members of Congress, were the most BITTER when the country, and system, they loved more than their own, fell! They followed their masters throughout their college years and listened to the virtues of Soviet propaganda taught to them by their professors who have sided with every Communist group, country, and thug!

    They now scream "No War On Iran!" Putin and China, both hard-core Communists, are aiding Iran's nuclear program and any meaningful UN sanction against Iran is vetoed by these two comrades! "Putin's Revenge" is that he seeks our defeat in Afghanistan as revenge for the U.S. aiding in their defeat, aids insurgents in Iraq and Pakistan through proxy, and aids Iran so they can they aid Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria with the ultimate goal of destroying Israel! Israel and the Jews are number one enemy of our American Communist groups, many members of Congress and even those who publicly support them only for the Jewish vote which I still can't understand with all this evidence, how any American Jew can be a Democrat!

  • Rochmoninoff

    Following the Beslan school incident in 2004 when the Russians put down the terrorists, my mother callled the Russian consulate.
    They thought she'd call to criticize and complain (apparently that's what most people were doing).
    When they found out she called to congratulate and console the consulate rep cried.

  • ziontruth

    "Russia’s anti-terror tactics—often rightly criticized by human rights groups for their heavy-handed nature, collateral damage, and lack of transparency"

    Please. Anyone who thinks the soldiers of Islamic imperialism can be dealt with a light hand, avoiding collateral damage and informing the world of every move has let the lessons of at least a decade pass him by.

    My criticism of Russia's foolishness in selling to Iran notwithstanding, I stand with Russia on its hammering of the Muslims in its midst 100%.

  • Amused

    Ahh , a point to agree on ! Kudos to you ziontruth . The Russians understand , that the only language the muslim hordes understand is brute force .

  • g_jochnowitz

    Russia is fighting against its own Muslim insurgents, but it continues to support Assad and Ahmadinejad.

  • Amused

    Russia will continue to break our shoes , as long as we continue to break theirs .The missle defense in Europe was not only unneccessarry but an affront to Russian paranoia fueled by American hubris regarding their concerns . We criticize how they handle their muslim insurgents , we stomped their relatives the Serbs , so what we have is a post Cold War tit for tat .Our foreign policy should be one that would give the Russians a good reason to cutoff Iran and Syria . We forget ,. Russia has national interests , just as we do , trample theirs and they will trample ours .

    • Michael

      “the missle defense in Europe was not only unneccessarry but an affront to Russian paranoia fueled by American hubris regarding their concerns . ”

      And what about Russia’s funding of nuclear poer plants in Iran? A process that began in 1993, well before the missile defense shield. As a matter of fact Russia has one of the most advanced missile shields in the world and continues to export to its allies.

      “We criticize how they handle their muslim insurgents , we stomped their relatives the Serbs , so what we have is a post Cold War tit for tat ”

      Serbs are related to Russians? hmm Anyway Russia has been selling weapons to Syria since the 1950′s, well before the war in Yugoslavia. It has maintained this relationship through-out the 90′s. But I guess Russia is only allowed to respond in a “tit for tat manner”.

      “Russia has national interests , just as we do , trample theirs and they will trample ours .”

      Oh, you mean like in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Isreal and Western Europe? Russia has been trampling on our interests for close to a century.

  • Amused

    Wow , now that's a first !

  • Amused

    So I guess pro Russia views are deleted eh Admin .? To say the missle defense plan in Europe tweeked the Russians and was unnecessarry is a no , no ?

  • Amused

    To say a post Cold War tit for tat mentality exists between the US and Russia is unacceptable ?

  • Michael

    Russia has maintained a close relationship with the terrorist funding regime in Syria for half a century. It has armed Iran for nearly two decades. It’s media consistently refers to Hamas and Hezbollah as “movements” instead of terrorist groups.

    Why should we help them in their efforts?