From Boston to Chechnya to Moscow: the chain of terror that unites US and Russia

Fear of Islamic extremism is a rare bridging link between the US and Russia

The United States may have become a target for Chechen terrorists in the wake of the harrowing Beslan school hostage crisis nearly 10 years ago, an expert explained today.

The world watched in horror in 2004 as armed Islamic separatist militants, some Chechen, occupied a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, and killed more than 380 people.

Security expert Simon Bennett said the tragedy bridged a gap between the US and Russia by establishing a mutual threat - fundamental Islamic terrorism.

Dr Bennett, director of the Civil Safety and Security Unit at the University of Leicester, said: “One of the few things in the past five or 10 years that has brought the Russians and the US closer together is the perceived threat from Islamic terrorism.”

He explained that in the wake of the Beslan crisis there would have been close collaboration between the Russians and the West through agencies such as the CIA.

Dr Bennett went on: “The Chechnyans and fundamentalists would have been aware of the bridging of the gap between Russia and the US.

“If Chechnya want an easy target, why not fly to the US on a temporary visa and attack a prestige event.

“If those two guys had carried out that attack in Moscow, the repercussions would have been severe because the Russian state under (president Vladimir) Putin is not reluctant to go in hard. They would know that wouldn't happen in America.”

The Chechens are a largely Muslim population who have lived for centuries in the mountainous North Caucasus. They have resisted Russian rule for the past 200 years.

A report on Chechen terrorism by Preeti Bhattacharji for the independent Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) explains that the US State Department believes the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB) is the primary channel for Islamic funding of the Chechen rebels, in part through links to al Qaida-related financiers.

The US also defines the Chechnya-based Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR) and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs as terrorist entities, the CFR report said.

Chechnya's long and violent conflict with Russia has also attracted a small number of Islamist militants from outside Chechnya, some of whom are Arab fighters with possible links to al Qaida, the paper said.

Among the Islamist militants, the most prominent was now-deceased Shamil Basayev, formerly Russia's most wanted man, who ordered the attack on the Beslan school.

Chechen terrorists have been behind several attacks in Russia including the 1999 bombings of a shopping arcade and apartment building in Moscow and the 2002 siege of Moscow's Dubrovka Theatre.

There are several ties between the al Qaida network and Chechen groups, the CFR paper said.

A Chechen warlord known as Khattab is said to have met al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden while both men were fighting the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted for his involvement in the September 11 attacks, was reportedly a former “recruiter for al Qaeda-backed rebels in Chechnya”.

However, some experts have warned that Russian authorities, including Mr Putin, have repeatedly stressed the involvement of bin Laden associates in Chechnya in part to generate Western sympathy for its military campaign in the region.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions