Monday, November 29, 2004

An Axis of Terror: Chechen Rebels, Hamas and Al Qaeda

Careful inspection of the wave of terrorism that hit Russia in August 2004 reveals how closely the network of Islamist-jihadists has integrated the objectives and resources of the international jihadist movement with local Islamist causes and assets. That is the lesson of a lengthy special report in today's Defense & Foreign Affairs by Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor of Global Information System ("Russia's Chechnya Terrorism Highlights Broader Links and Objectives, Linking to anti-US and Palestinian Terrorism," Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, November 29, 2004 -- no link can be provided, since the article is not publicly available on the web).

The spectacular assaults on Russia in August 2004 displayed a "mix and match" of local and imported contributions. The two Chechen women who served as martyr-bombers were identified as members of the "regional Shakhid unit of Moscow of the battalion of Shakhid, Riyad us-Salihin" by Shamil Basayev, the Chechen rebel leader (whose top aide, Akhmed "White Arab" Sambiyev was just killed late Thursday by Russian security forces). Forensic evidence reveals that the bombs used on the two Russian planes were similar to the bomb that was seized from the shoes of Richard Reid, after he attempted to bomb an American Airlines flight on December 22, 2001.

Remarkably, Bodansky also claims that the bombs used on the Russian planes were also similar to the "bomb used by Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, who, on November 12, 2001, brought down an American Airlines aircraft soon after taking off from JFK to the Dominican Republic." The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has maintained that the crash of AA 587 was accidental, and argues that the detachment of the vertical fin could not been the result of an event within the cabin. Suspicion that the crash was the result of sabotage has persisted, however, and just last August, Daniel Pipes reported in FrontPage Magazine the information (which Pipes called "not exactly rock-hard") that AA 587 was the result of an Al-Qaida operation with "Farouk the Tunisian" as the bomber.

Bodansky also reveals the source of Richard Reid's shoe bomb. The details illustrate the close cooperation between Iranian and Palestinian jihadist forces and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
Reid's shoe bombs were based on Iranian-origin technology and were made of new type of high-explosives. Reid -- then an acknowledged bin Laden operative -- received his shoe-bombs in the Palestinian Jebalya camp in the Gaz Strip. At the time, he was a trainee-guest of Nabil Aqal, a senior commander of the Hamas' Izz al-Deen al-Qassim Brigades and a protege of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin. The key components of the bombs had been smuggled to Gaza from Lebanon via Egypt by then-Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat's ally and confidante, Jamal Sema Dana. The Hamas support for Reid a major deviation from Yassin's long-standing insistence that the Hamas cadres limit their operations to the Palestinian theater in order to contribute to international operations under the banner of a global jihadist entity. However, by the late 1990s, the Hamas needed foreign support from the global Islamist-jihadist movement and Yassin was willing to "pay" by increasing its direct involvement in the international jihad.
Some of this foreign support Hamas received from international Islamist-jihadists was from Chechnya. Just after the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000, Shamil Basayev and Hattab, the "Black Arab" (who was later poisoned by the Russian secret service in 2002), sent 150 Chechen and Arab-Chechen "expert bomb-makers, snipers and fortification-builders" to Gaza and the West Bank. The extremely powerful bombs that Palestinians used to destroy several Israeli tanks were provided by the Chechens. Muhammad Dahlan, now head of Palestinian security services in Gaza, ran a program of smuggling into the Gaza Strip al-Qaida fighters and Chechens from Afghanistan-Pakistan. Each of the al-Qaida transplants received a $5,000 cash bonus, contributed from Saudi Arabia. A few of the Arab-Chechens had even been members of the Hamas Iss al-Din al-Qassim Brigades before they left Gaza and Nablus for advanced training in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

The ideological solidarity between the Palestinians and the Islamists in Chechnya became more public in 2004 when Hamas recruitment posters and videos featured portraits of bin Laden, Yassin and Hattab as the key leaders of the Islamist movement. The Hamas video also contained a fatwa by the Chechen Mufti Muhammad Abdullah Al-Seif sanctioning martyrdom-terrorism and even authorizing the recruitment of female martyr-bombers.

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