The age of the human bomb (weekly review)
By Vadim Borshchev, special to Prague Watchdog
In late June, a day or two after the start of the large-scale federal Russian military operation in Chechnya and Ingushetia, one of Dokka Umarov’s commanders – a man named Abdul-Malik – contacted the North Caucasus service of Radio Svoboda. He said that a large unit of Kadyrov’s police, together with Russian soldiers, were combing an area of mountain and forest in the vicinity of Shali. He added that a mujahedin detachment of 20 men had left the mountains and gone down to the plain. The task of each of these volunteers – each man had taken the decision of his own accord – was to detonate an explosive device strapped to his body at a place where police officers assembled, and to cause the maximum number of casualties among them. The insurgent commander also said that the two men who were first to come down from the mountains had been ambushed and killed by Kadyrov’s police.
A short time later a similar report appeared on the Kavkaz-Center website. It is at present impossible to say for certain whether the suicide bomb attack in the centre of Grozny on July 26 was connected with this story, which is now nearly a month old. The likelihood is that it was. Eighteen human bombs were sufficient to demonstrate the intentions of the new insurgency which Dokka Umarov announced back in late April, in a video posted on Kavkaz-Center. The essence of that strategy was the resumption of terrorist attacks. They were to be carried out by units that include Riyadus Salikhiyn, the group that was founded and headed by Shamil Basayev.
By now the enormous difference between the approaches of Basayev and Umarov is plainly evident. The former tried over and over again to repeat the experience of Budyonnovsk, when the seizure of hostages resulted in peace talks. After the storming of the school in Beslan it finally became clear that not even the most large-scale and carefully planned operation, not even one that involved a trade in the deaths of children, would be able to force the Russian leadership to meet the hostage-takers’ demands. The situation in Beslan marked the end of the “Budyonnovsk" period of the Chechen war – from that point onwards, terrorist attacks ceased to have any importance as an argument in the military and political dispute between the Kremlin and the Chechen resistance.
The current wave of suicide bombings is being conducted if not on the orders of Dokka Umarov, then at least with his knowledge. These attacks cannot be considered military operations in a pure form, because they do not seek to compel the enemy to capitulate or to cause him irreparable harm. The use of human bombs can have no influence on the course of events, even if a suicide bomber manages to take out or high-ranking officials or members of the law enforcement agencies. Like the assassination attempt on Yevkurov and the most recent terrorist incident in Grozny, future attacks and bombings will probably provoke Kadyrov and the Russian military to an even more massive and merciless war against the insurgency.
Thus, the task of the shahids is to sow terror in the enemy’s heart, to show him their indomitable religious faith and the strength of their forces. If men are willing to give up their lives out of love for Allah and hatred for those whom they consider to be His enemies, it means we are dealing not with operational, technical, military or political objectives, but with a war which will last until the true faith is established in the land. The new generation of Salafists seek to prove to themselves and the world that it does not matter whether the victory is granted tomorrow, or whether the war lasts a thousand years. What matters is service to Allah, and one of its most worthy forms is Jihad, eternal and unstoppable.
The things that are happening now probably give some grounds for talking of the “Palestinization” of the Chechen conflict. Even in the days of Basayev the experts tried to introduce this term, but it was found to be too speculative and remote from the realities of the war. The new Caucasian shahidism disdains all functionality of any kind, military or political, and considers the heroic death of the martyr and the shameful ruin of the infidel simply as a moment of pure glory for Allah. It is the triumph of His creed in the hearts of those who sacrifice their lives to Him. Such a doctrine fits perfectly within the frame of Arab radicalism.
And a few words about the so-called “peace initiatives” of Akhmed Zakayev. In the light of what is now taking place, they can be left without any comment.
(Translation by DM)