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23 Jun, 2010 22:39

US adds Russia's most-wanted terrorist to its blacklist

The US has finally designated one of Russia's most wanted men, Doku Umarov, as a terrorist. He is the man who took responsibility for masterminding the deadly Moscow Metro bombings in March.

The action by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton –which came on the eve of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Washington – will help stem the flow of financial support and other help to Umarov.

“This designation represents just one phase of the United States Government’s response to the threat posed by Doku Umarov,” reads the press release by Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, published on the US State Department’s official webpage. “The action taken today against Umarov supports the US effort to degrade Umarov’s ability to exert operational and leadership control over Caucasus Emirates. We are determined to eliminate the group’s ability to direct violent attacks and to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Umarov’s network.”

The statement also cites Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the Department of State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, as saying: “The designation of Umarov is in direct response to the threats posed to United States and Russia.”

“The recent attacks perpetrated by Umarov and his operatives illustrate the global nature of the terrorist problem we face today. We stand in solidarity with the Russian people in our condemnation of these deplorable terrorist acts,” he added.

Russian human rights activists have welcomed the move, but said it is unlikely to help fighting terrorism in the North Caucasus, Interfax agency writes.

“This is the right step by the US timed to coincide with Medvedev's visit,” said Oleg Orlov, the head of the Russian human rights center Memorial. “However, unfortunately, I am afraid that this step will not have significant influence. In fact, do the Americans have enough resources in the North Caucasus to help catch Umarov? But anyway, this is the right step on the part of the US,” he is cited as saying.

Umarov, 46, claims he was involved in bombing the Moscow-St. Petersburg train express last year, as well as the Metro bombings in the capital in March which killed 40. It is alleged he was behind a few more terrorist acts and other grave offenses including kidnappings. It was rumored in the media that Umarov could have masterminded one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Russia – the Beslan school siege in 2004.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov called Umarov one of the organizers of the assassination attempt against Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov last year, in which the republic’s leader was badly injured.

On several occasions the militant – who calls himself “the Emir of the Caucasus” – has been declared dead.

Doku Umarov has in the past declared his desire to set up an Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus in Russia's south, where he is being hunted for by security services.

Kyle Parker, Russian policy adviser to Congressman Alcee Hastings, has told RT that the move by the US authorities showed that the two nations shared the same view towards international terrorism. He also said that such moves could be the only response to the unanimous support Russians expressed to the United States after the tragedy of September 11.

Fred Weir, from the newspaper the Christian Science Monitor, spoke to RT about the political implications that prompted the US to recognize Russia’s most wanted criminal as a terrorist.

“The US State Department is not an independent think-tank and there’s no point in discussing this as if it were some kind of objective list at all. It’s driven by policy considerations. It’s not that the State Department suddenly had an attack of conscience or recognized that Doku Umarov is a murderer. It’s that the relationship between Russia and the United states is changing,” said Mr. Weir.