With Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Chechen terrorism has finally arrived on American soil. The two brothers not only hailed from Chechnya but had strong ties to al- Qaeda. Few developments are more foreboding for America’s future.
Family Security Matters by Paul Williams Chechnya, located between the Caspian and Black Seas, remains one of the most volatile regions of the world. Its population is over 95% Shafi’i – – the most radical branch of Islam.
The Chechens are a largely Muslim ethnic group that has lived for centuries in the mountainous North Caucasus region. For the past two hundred years, Chechens have resisted Russian rule. During World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the Chechens of cooperating with the Nazis and forcibly deported the entire population to Kazakhstan and Siberia. Tens of thousands of Chechens died, and the survivors were allowed to return home only after Stalin’s death.
Although Chechnya remains a federal republic within Russia, the Chechen people have never been loyal to the Kremlin but rather to the one hundred teips, or clans, that make up Chechen society. They don’t speak Russian but a unique language known as Kakh, and they uphold a strong sense of cultural and religious unity.
During World War II, many Chechens collaborated with the Nazis. Soviet premier Josef Stalin executed thousands and shipped more than half a million by boxcar to northern Kazakstan, where 25% died. In 1957, Nikita Khrushchev allowed them to filter back to their former farms and lands. It was a decision that Russians recall with regret.
In 1980 thousands of Chechens rallied to the cause of the mujahadeen and fought side by side with Osama bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
In 1992, when the Soviet Union began to fall into pieces, the Chechens began to prepare for their gazavat (“holy war”) by amassing the weapons that members of the Soviet military were selling from their arsenals. Everything went up for grabs – – assault rifles, mortals, artillery shells, RPG-7s, even assault tanks and antiballistic missiles.
The Chechens even obtained radioactive material for the production of dirty nukes – – including kilos of chromium-50, cesium-137, and lithium. On November 23, 1995, to provide proof of these nuclear acquisitions, Shamil Basayev, commander of the Chechen rebels, directed a Russian television crew to a radiological bomb that his troops had planted within Izmailovsky Park, outside of Moscow. The bomb had been made of seventy pounds of cesium-137 and, if detonated, would have killed hundreds in a matter of minutes and contaminated thousands more.
The value of the cesium on the black market was thirty-two million dollars. The incident represented the first deployment of a radiological device as a weapon of terrorism. Regarding the incident, Basayev said: “Putting uranium in Moscow requires one person. One person gets killed and the city dies.”
What happened to the weapons? Basayev attempted to sell them to us. But the Clinton Administration turned down his offer. And so, according to leading international news outlets, including the London Times and The Jerusalem Post, he sold them to al Qaeda.
Is this true? In December 1996, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, was arrested at the Chechen border by Russian officials. Later the good doctor admitted that he made the trip to purchase dirty nukes to be used against the Great Satan (a. k. a., the United States of America).
Following this report, a number of US officials and nuclear scientists, including General Eugene E. Habiger, former executive chief of US strategic weapons, and Dr. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, have been sounding the alarm that the a radiological weapon from Chechnya will soon be detonated within Boston or another major US city.
“It’s not a matter of if,” General Habiger said, “it’s a matter of when.”
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Paul L. Williams is the author of The Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, The Al Qaeda Connection, and other best-selling books. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR