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October 21, 2010 - Image 6

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6A- Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com i

Chechen warlord may be behind parliament attack

Officials say Gakayev
wants to become
Islamist insurgency
leader
GROZNY, Russia (AP) - A sui-
cide attack on Chechnya's parlia-
ment may have been staged by a
shadowy warlord who wants to
establish himself as a leader of
the Russian region's factionalized
Islamist insurgency, officials and
analysts said yesterday.
Some observers said they
believe there could be an escala-
tion of violence as 40-year-old
Khusein Gakayev moves to assert
his supremacy over the divided
rebels.
In the attack, "the goal here isto
demonstrate Gakayev's authority,"
said Yulia Latynina, a Moscow-
based columnist and Caucasus
expert.
No one immediately claimed
responsibility for Tuesday's attack
by three suicide attackers, who got
inside the tightly guarded parlia-
ment complex in the capital, Gro-
zny, as legislators gathered for
a session. The attackers opened
fire and blew themselves up, kill-
ing two police officers and a par-
liamentary aide and wounded 17
other people.
Chechnya's Interior Ministry
branch told the ITAR-Tass news
agency that it believed the attack

was planned by Gakayev to boost
his credentials among other rebels
and their supporters abroad. It did
not offer evidence.
Islamic insurgents have taken
root across Russia's predominant-
ly Muslim North Caucasus region
and are trying to turn it into an
independent emirate that adheres
to Shariah, or Islamic law. Since
2007, the movement has been led
by the guerrilla leader Doku Uma-
rov, who spread confusion through
the rebel ranks in August by first
announcing and then annul-
ling his resignation in two videos
released three days apart.
Analysts say that apparent inde-
cision exacerbated a schism in the
rebel leadership between those
striving for a new Shariah state in
the Caucasus and those focusing
on Chechnya's independence.
Gakayev, who has never been
known to promote pan-Caucasian
Islamism, was a little-known lieu-
tenant to more senior rebels who
has recently emerged as a leading
figure in the insurgency.
In a video posted on the Chech-
en rebel website Daymohk.org
on Oct 7, Gakayev and two other
Chechen rebel field commanders
renounced their oath of allegiance
to Umarov. In the video they also
call Gakayev the Emir of Chech-
nya, and therefore their leader.
Gakayev also has won support
of a prominent Chechen in exile,
Akhmed Zakayev.
Some Caucasus watchers said

0

Special Force (OMON) officers are seen in front of Chechen parliament complex after a bomb blast in Grozny, Chechnya, southern Russia Tuesday. Insurgents stormed the
parliament complex in Russia's volatile Chechnya region on Tuesday, killing at least 2 police officers and one parliamentary official, authorities said.

Gakayev could be using this
momentum to launch a fresh
wave of attacks against the Mos-
cow-backed Chechen president,
Ramzan Kadyrov and try to dem-
onstrate his ability to control the
whole movement.
Gakayev's group stands accused
by the authorities of mastermind-
ing an unprecedented attack on
Kadyrov's home village that left 19
people dead, including five civil-
ians.

"There is a new generation of
fighters, a group of young wolves,"
says Pavel Baev, an expert on
Chechnya and its neighbors at
the International Peace Research
Institute in Oslo.
Tuesday's raid on the parlia-
ment seems to bear the same
unusual trademarks as that village
raid: groups of well-trained gun-
men, equipped with suicide vests,
striking directly at Kadyrov's
strongholds.

"They have managed to get
fighters ready to act as canon fod-
der, and to form a structure of cells
that can not only attract these
fighters but prepare them for these
complex attacks," says Alexander
Cherkasov, a Chechnya expert and
board member of Russia's lead-
ing human rights group, Memo-
rial. "This tells us of a new level of
organization."
The rebels' renewed vigor in
striking Kadyrov's strongholds

will likely spell trouble for his
regime, said Caucasus expert
Latynina.
In the past, Kadyrov managed
to recruit many ex-militants into
his feared security forces and
sought to blunt the rebels' appeal
with a massive construction boom
and a campaign to impose strict
Islamic values. He has repeatedly
boasted that a few dozen remain-
ing rebels were starving and ready
to surrender.

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RELEASE DATE- Thursday, October 21, 2010
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

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