US hits nerve, calls Russia’s most-wanted terrorist a “rebel leader”
On the morning of March 29, 2010, two female suicide bombers boarded packed subway carriages in the heart of the Russian capital and detonated their explosives, killing 40 innocent people and injuring scores. As a palpable wave of fear spread across the city, Muscovites were temporarily stricken by memories of past terrorist attacks, while at the same time they were attempting to call friends and loved ones to confirm their safety. Clearly a classic case of unadulterated terrorism, if ever there was one.
Several days later, Doku Umarov, the self-proclaimed head of the unrecognized Caucasus Emirate, claimed responsibility for the bombings. Here is how Pravda.ru reported on the attacks:
“Doku Umarov is the name and the face of sheer evil whom Western media outlets refer to as a ‘rebel leader’, a terrorist chief in Chechnya who has claimed responsibility for Monday’s outrage in Moscow in which 39 people were murdered and over 70 injured… Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has vowed to capture the terrorist elements that perpetrated these two outrages, which together killed 66 people and wounded nearly 100.”
America's Terrorist Listing
1. Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
2. Abu Sayyaf Group
3. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
5. Ansar al-Islam
6. Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
7. Asbat al-Ansar
8. Aum Shinrikyo
9. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
10. Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA)
11. Continuity Irish Republican Army
12. Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group)
13. Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement)
14. Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
15. Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
16. Hizballah (Party of God)
17. Islamic Jihad Group
18. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
19. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) (Army of Mohammed)
20. Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI)
21. Kahane Chai (Kach)
22. Kata'ib Hizballah
23. Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, KADEK)
24. Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous)
25. Lashkar i Jhangvi
26. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
27. Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
28. Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM)
29. Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK)
30. National Liberation Army (ELN)
31. Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
32. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
33. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF)
34. PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC)
35. Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (QJBR) (al-Qaida in Iraq) (formerly Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'al-Jihad, JTJ, al-Zarqawi Network)
37. al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
38. al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (formerly GSPC)
39. Real IRA
40. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
41. Revolutionary Organization 17 November
42. Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
43. Revolutionary Struggle
44. Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL)
45. United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
The article expresses the incredulity that many Russians feel today for the West’s “hypocritical stance” in the endless War on Terror. In other words, when an individual or organization dares attack the United States [read: Osama bin Laden], or the interests of the United States, then that entity is immediately branded a “terrorist.” But the same standards, critics say, do not apply for attacks that are waged against Russia or Russian interests.
“The State Department's update of its annual list of official terrorist groups is imminent, but the group that just attacked Moscow won't be on the list,” writes Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy magazine.
Rogin is referring to the so-called Caucasus Emirate, and its self-anointed leader Doku Umarov, who has been busy waging a jihad against the Russian authorities. Umarov, who declared back in 2007 that he was planning to “expand his struggle” and wage war against the United States, Great Britain and Israel as well, does not have his organization rank on the US State Department’s annual list of terrorists.
Yet at least one US Congressman is attempting to get Washington to reverse its decision and give the Caucasus Emirate the notorious ranking that Moscow believes it has earned.
“This is a low profile organization that has continued to carry out high profile acts of terrorism, including the twin bombings in Moscow recently,” Representative Alcee Hastings told The Cable in an interview. “They've got a jihad against Russia and the United States. If that ain't a terrorist organization, I don't know what is.”
Hastings, a Democrat from Florida, submitted a resolution to the House of Representatives on Thursday that outlines his reasons – amongst them Umarov’s connections with Al-Qaeda – for declaring the Caucasus Emirate a terrorist organization.
“The Caucasus Emirate and Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations cooperate with each other and often support each other with regard to personnel, training, financing, and propaganda,” the resolution reads.
Hastings then provides numbers to back up his proposition: “Since its creation in October 2007, the Caucasus Emirate has committed over 900 terrorist attacks on Russian territory, killing more than 900 and wounding more than 1,500 civilians, government officials, police, military, and security personnel.”
These acts of violence against innocent civilians constitute genuine acts of terrorism, Hastings argues, because they “are clearly intended to spread fear across all levels of society, injure, at least psychologically, a far greater number of people than those physically present at the scene of the attack.”
Why exclude Umarov?
Washington’s refusal to recognize Doku Umarov, who anointed himself the “Emir” of an Islamic state that cuts across Russia’s volatile Caucasus, and his gang as a bona-fide terrorist organization is a mystery.
First, Umarov, much like the Taliban in Afghanistan, has dreams of building a sprawling Islamic state – called the Caucasus Emirate – that is based on strict Sharia Law. Needless to say, democratic principles have no place in such a world.
Umarov, 45, stressing that he was against all “infidel” laws or rules, said he rejected democracy as a system of governance because it was invented by non-Muslims. This is in direct contradiction to Washington’s stated goal, notably prevalent during the former administration of George W. Bush, of “spreading democracy” to all four corners of the planet. But it should not be forgotten that the US fell back on its condescending campaign of democratic seed-planting after it became embarrassingly clear that Iraq was not harboring weapons of mass destruction. So perhaps the democratic credentials of friend or foe alike is not what really interests Washington the most.
“Mujaheddin in the Caucasus do not fight for democracy, they fight for Sharia,” the rebel leader said in a statement broadcast over the Internet.
He also made it clear that his “rebel movement” would not be confined to Chechen borders. “Thousands of mujaheddin of the multinational Caucasus have risen to take part in Jihad,” he bragged on another occasion. “Our bases spread from Azerbaijan to Abkhazia.”
Finally, what does the United States have to gain by excluding an individual and his organization that has clearly declared war on Russia, not to mention other Western nations, including America? After all, what happened to cooperation in the War on Terror between Moscow and Washington, or does that only apply, as some observers suggest, when it is specifically US interests that are at risk?
Dmitry Babich, a political analyst from RIA Novosti news agency, believes that Washington’s reluctance to view Umarov as a terrorist derives from “an anti-Russia bias. Anyone fighting Russian ‘imperialism’, as they call it, is basically not a bad man.”
In the final analysis, Washington seems to have forgotten – perhaps more out of superpower self-centeredness than any real intention to harm US-Russian relations – that Moscow has already upped the ante quite high in the War on Terror.
Russia now grants US military cargo flights passage over Russian territory in order for coalition forces to do battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as provide valuable intelligence services to coalition forces.
Ironically, however, many Americans forget the reason why the United States is fighting a protracted war against the Taliban in the first place – because on September 11, 2001, a Muslim named Osama Bin Laden allegedly initiated the greatest act of terrorism against the United States from his mountain hideout in Afghanistan. George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand him over, while the Taliban demanded proof of Bin Laden’s guilt. The rest of the story is history.
Today, both Osama Bin Laden and Doku Umarov are free men and passionately dedicated to fighting their proclaimed enemies to the death. This fact alone should make the US stand firm with Russia in the face of a common threat, not resort to cheap politics for possible geopolitical gains.