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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention