Elena Pokalova. CHECHNYA’S TERRORIST NETWORK: The Evolution of Terrorism in Russia’s North Caucasus. 2015
With the rise of terrorism in the Russian Federation, many scholars try to study the development of jihadi movements in the North Caucasus. Elena Pokalova provides an authoritative and deep analysis on the counterterrorist policy of the Russian government and the evolution of the Russia-Chechnya conflict, which became the only hot spot within the Russian Federation where the authority employed military forces in order to restore the state’s sovereignty. Not only the study presents a valuable overview, but it also considers the conflict in terms of the global scale, showing readers the much bigger perspective for this local conflict.
The conflict between Russia and Chechnya has deep historical roots, descending all the way back to the Russian Empire. To navigate readers through this complex topic, Pokalova begins the examination of Russian-Chechen relations in the 16th century, providing a very clear and insightful summary in the first chapter. The chapter covers such prominent historical figures as Sheikh Mansur, Ghazi Muhammad, and Imam Shamil. Analyzing the anti-Russian struggle in the 19th century in the North Caucasus, the author underlines that the Caucasus imamate was serious regional competition to the royal rule of Russia. Referring to religious unity and incorporating sharia law, it did not only embrace neighboring territories and nationals but effectively managed them. Pokalova argues that for decades, many generations of North Caucasus Muslims have perceived this statehood project as the only suitable order.
Chapter two discusses the Russian counterterrorist approach since 1991. The reliance of the Russian government on military forces in the first Chechen war led to a tactical shift on the separatists’ side: separatists acquired new forms of fighting from hostage taking to acts of radiological terrorism. The Chechen rebels not only tried to conduct their operations on the Russian territories, but they began to adapt methods of unconventional war. The command center of the separatists invited experienced foreign militants to join them in order to learn these new methods. According to the author, by May 1995, rebels had several suicide units which were fully equipped and ready to launch covert operations. The Budennovsk attack in June 1995 opened a new stage in this conflict, brought personal success for Shamil Basaev and added publicity for this conflict. At this stage of the conflict, Basaev’s militants recognized the difference between terrorism and subversive actions, trying to avoid killing women and children. In addition to this, this attack revealed the inability and unpreparedness of the Russian government to provide adequate response to neither terrorism nor subversive acts. To stress the unprofessionalism of the Russian secret service, Pokalova refers to Basayev’s radiological plot. As many other scholars warn, the author believes that terrorists’ attempts to acquire WMD will repeat over and over again.
The next chapter examines the interwar period. Along with the description of the emergence of jammats in the North Caucasus, the author explains the meaning of such important terms as Wahhabism in the Russian Federation, presenting profound knowledge about Russian society. In the public mind, Wahhabism is understood as “fundamentalism, extremism, jihadism, and terrorism”. Scrutinizing the arrival of Wahhabi ideas to Dagestan and Chechnya, the study emphasizes that the Chechen separatist movement observed this as a convenient tool for gathering political influence in the region. Research indicates that despite the close connections with foreign mujahedeen, the ideological influence on the separatist movement was not significant: Chechen militants left the North Caucasus for global jihad in very limited numbers. At that time, the local fight for independence was more important than a creation of a world caliphate.
The second Russian campaign against Chechnya had a different character in comparison to the first war. The leading role in this operation was played by Putin, who tried to heed all previous mistakes and pursued the goal of keeping Russia’s borders the same at all costs. First of all, the government undertook rigorous control informational flows, restricting the access of media to battlefields. Second, Putin rejected the idea of negotiations with terrorists. In addition to this, in terms of political perspective, the authorities worked out the strategy of Chechenization, which had to increase loyalty to the Kremlin. The separatist movement was not the same any more: the inner tendency toward Islamisation became obvious. Operationally, Chechen militants began to deploy suicide attacks, especially outside Chechnya. The author connects the decline of suicide attacks in 2006 with the death of Basayev and their upsurge – with the appearance of new spiritual leader – Said Buryatsky. Buryatsky did not only try to reestablish suicide units, but he actively recruited ethnic Russians to be bomb carriers. In the 2000s, the terrorist groups focused on recruiting ethnic Slavic people in order to avoid state profiling. As a result, by the mid-2000s many Slavic people had engaged in terror attacks against Russian society. This development again revealed the unpreparedness of the Russian secret service, which was not ready to effectively prevent the involvement of ethnic Slavs in terrorist organizations. The tragedy of the Dubrovka and Beslan hostage situations did not have a significant impact on the hard-line counterterrorist approach; the newly issued legislation just expanded the role of the military forces. Pokalova argues that Chechen separatists have adopted the global jihadi rhetoric that changed the nature of the entire movement geographically as well as ideologically.
To sum up, the author covers many crucial and complicated issues in a very understandable way. In general, it is very easy to follow the author’s narratives and logic. Everybody, from scholars to history lovers, will find this research very interesting and useful.
Bioterrorism and the role of the country’s information structure in its control
Today’s wars are a new form and have a lot of complexity. Changes and widespread changes in the type and structure of wars have led to the introduction of new vocabularies into the world’s military literature, which is bioterrorism as a new form of terrorism. The unpredictability and suddenness, the power of mass destruction and destruction and the psychological stress caused by bioterrorism have made it one of the top priorities of societies and countries that want peace and security.
The fear of being exposed to a variety of diseases has always been a concern for man over the course of history. In the meantime, humane animals with animal temperament have always sought to exploit various factors to dominate and harm others. These people, with knowledge of the general panic of disease and the power of pathogens in paralyzing societies, have always sought to make the most of these factors in order to achieve their goals. With the advances made in genetic and medical sciences, this concern and general panic in diseases have been somewhat resolved, but these developments have led to some abuse.
Although bioterrorism is one of the main problems of public health and a threat to infection control, the fact is that bioterrorist thoughts and practices have always been in the aggressive nations, incite mental and political-economic rivals on the one hand, and in adversarial or retaliatory thoughts in individuals On the other hand, thousands of years ago, the armies, governments, and threatened personalities have existed and have sometimes come up with an incredible myth that all of these events reflect the oldness of thoughts and rarely bioterrorist practices. But the word Bioterrorism and Terrorist Wars came back after the 9/11 incident, so that the annual US budget was tens of times tallied to fight these criminal acts. The widespread propaganda that has taken place in this area has caused more and more people to be afraid of this phenomenon and compromising the mental health of societies. However, many people still believe that biological warfare has come to fruition of military imagination, while today, political developments and biotechnology advances have changed this belief.
Despite the irreparable risks and impacts of bioterrorist attacks on various societies, the fear and fear of society, patients, health workers and the general public is much wider than their real consequences. The mental responses of people who have been traumatized may be horror, anger, unnecessary worries about infection, and fear of spreading illness, desires, getting out of the community and turning to immoral things. Therefore, when planning to prepare for bioterrorist attacks, the psychological aspects of the problem as well as the way to prevent fear among people should be considered.
In assessing the factors affecting a bioterrorist attack, a number of other factors must be considered in addition to the assessment of the potential risks of biological agents or the likelihood of bio terroristic attacks. Therefore, it cannot be said that a terrorist’s unwillingness to use a dangerous biological risk reduces the risk of a terrorist attack on it, and on the contrary, even the most dangerous terrorists, in order to achieve their terrorist goals, need to have biological agents for harm and terror.
Dependency of factors causes each other to disproportionately focus on the above branches and to ignore the link between factors that reduce the threat, preventing a bioterrorism operation will be impossible. A tangible example of the above is that by reducing the vulnerability through a general vaccination against a specific agent, the bio terroristic motives and goals will be weaker in applying this particular factor.
In dealing with bioterrorism purposes, in addition to practical (objective) evaluations such as: determining the value of assets, the target vulnerability or the potential risk of a particular factor, consider the mental aspects of the case (the lines in the above diagrams Note). Knowing this subtlety can formulate separate policies that cannot be achieved without tackling terrorist intentions. For example, it is impossible to completely eliminate the vulnerability of the masses to a particular factor, but diverting terrorists’ thoughts from the vulnerability of a region’s people will reduce the likelihood of a terrorist attack. Most of the debates on bioterrorism focus more on the potential risk and less attention is paid to qualitative aspects such as the motivation of terrorists to use such deadly weapons or the vulnerability of different societies to bioterrorism.
One of the new theories about bioterrorism is “opportunity theory.” Thus, rationally, a bioterrorist attack occurs when a person is induced by a bioterrorist attack in a cost-benefit analysis and finds more than its cost. The aforementioned theory states that if the interests of the bioterrorists are more than the costs incurred by them, the probability of committing the crime from the strikers will increase. This theory states that by changing the cost-benefit components, the probability of a crime can be reduced. Also, by eliminating the excuse of the opposition groups to carry out bioterrorist activities, it is possible to prevent such offenses to a very large extent.
Any action taken to prevent the proliferation of biological agents will make it harder to achieve biological agents and will offer more opportunities to counteract the use of these agents. Therefore, by increasing the cost of doing such operations and taking into account the cost benefit analysis, incentives for using biological weapons are reduced.
The country’s capabilities in this area can be evaluated in various areas such as: public awareness, coping and prevention, treatment and removal of attack lesions. Since our country is an incident and a natural disaster is abundant in it, so looking at how to deal with these crises can be used to counteract bioterrorism attacks in most areas as well. Unfortunately, the unconscious, weak and slow handling of various devices in events such as floods and earthquakes and subsequent reconstruction shows that our country is by no means prepared to deal with such crises. The low level of knowledge and understanding of the executive bodies of the country and the people in coping with crises such as floods and earthquakes, which are well-known phenomena, illustrates the fact that there is a lot of work against threats such as bioterrorist attacks, which are even somewhat unfamiliar to specialized organizations such as the Ministry of Defense and Health. It is difficult and perhaps impossible. As preparations for dealing with these crises are not achieved in the short term, so at the present time, we should focus more on our strength, the country’s intelligence and security systems, which have proven their effectiveness in confronting various threats and prevent them from doing. Such operations will be ideal for the country as well as preventing such attacks from the consequences and pathology.
Preventing bioterrorism attacks using information work is much better and less costly than coping with it. And intelligence and security services have a great role to play. On the other hand, the use of a bioterrorist agent may become so rapid that it is impossible to control it, and the damage and losses incurred even for users is unpredictable and surprising. In some of the bioterrorist attacks, its perpetrators, which are more than the domestic opposition, are not intended to inflict human injuries or economic damage, but to mock the intelligence and security services and to weaken them in preventing and detecting these handicap threats. They take such actions.
Regarding the geographical situation of our country and opposition groups with the regime, it can be said that among the above groups, the MEK, the Kurdistan Workers Party and most importantly ISIS have the motivations to carry out bioterrorist operations against our country. It should be noted, however, that the MojahedinKhalq Organization has recently announced that it is no longer planning to carry out terrorist operations in order to gain EU-US support more openly and more openly. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party also does not have such terrorist operations on its record. The most important threat that can be mentioned is the ISIS group, whose history shows that there is no shortage of widespread and horrific operations. The hatred of this group of Iran’s Shiite system may well be due to the cause. But in my opinion, and given the recent developments in the region, emerging groups such as Jundallah, which do not have a clear and accurate regulation, are far more dangerous, given the violent and overwhelming attacks that have been taking place in recent years. The dependence of these emerging economies on large and advanced countries has increased the risk of these attacks, which indicates the heavy responsibility of the country’s intelligence and security systems at the present time.
Since the terrorist attack may not follow the expected pattern, the military and police forces’ efforts to identify and respond to biological attacks should remain high. In addition, a small prevalence of the disease can be a primary warning to more serious attacks, and the detection and use of preventive measures, such as vaccines and effective antibiotics, can save thousands of lives. In order to facilitate the rapid identification of bioterrorist attacks, all personnel of the military and police forces, such as health and medical personnel, should have at least basic “epidemiological” skills. Any small or widespread disease should be considered as a bioterrorist attack. This preliminary study should not be time consuming or requires new rules. In order to determine everything that seems unusual and refers to bioterrorism, the prevalence of surroundings should be considered.
The discussion of biological wars is a sensitive and preventable task by politicians of military strategists, scientists and lawyers. Performing a pre-biologic action is to create a strong barrier against less-likely threats, but with wider consequences, the most effective way to deal with these attacks. The discussion of bioterrorism attacks is not a cross-sectional one, and the readiness to deal with the bioterrorist attacks should be permanent and permanent.
All countries are vulnerable to biological terrorist attacks (Bioterrorism) and should not be ignorant of these attacks. Evidence suggests that the threat of biological attacks is on the rise, and emerging-age groups with less ethical responsibilities are expanding, so focusing on ways to confront the terrorist and concealed biological invasion is necessary. Finally, it should be noted at the end that, as ignoring and disregarding the bioterrorism threats is extremely dangerous, the magnitude and controversy in this case is also false and should be addressed logically.
Revival of ISIS in Iraq if Iran continues to influence Iraqi militias
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 conditions on Iran nuclear deal – that were outlined in a speech at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 2018 – have merits; particularly his condition of “Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias“.
If Iranian influence on the Iraqi militias is allowed to be continued, they would again be encouraged to marginalize and torture the Sunni Arab population, whose sufferings would then become the rallying point for the revival of ISIS or emergence of an ISIS-like new group/s.
What’s more, if Iranian influence continues to prevail on the Iraqi Shia militias, the Shias – who are the followers of those schools of thoughts that are different from what these militias follow – will also come under attack from the Iran-backed Shia militias.
ISIS rose on capitalizing the marginalization of Sunni Arabs
When the US was largely withdrawing its forces in Iraq, they left an Iraq that was sectarian and chaotic. The Sunni population – specifically of Arab ethnicity – had to face widespread tortures from the hardliner sectarian elements across Iraq.
Before the emergence of ISIS, the continuous protests by the Sunni Arabs in Iraq’s Anbar province (including in Fallujah) and the breakout of armed clashes every now and then between Sunni Arab protesters and security forces — increasingly showed frustration of the Sunni Arab population, as they were being neglected by the sectarian regime in Bagdad and were being tortured by some sectarian elements in the Iraqi army and the Iran-backed Shia militias.
After the rise of ISIS, a substantial portion of the Iraq’s Sunni Arab population – who were extremely frustrated from the tortures by the Shia militias and the sectarian Iraqi army personnel – had either directly jointed ISIS after embracing its ideology or atleast cooperated with ISIS in many issues.
Hence, the sufferings of the Sunni Arab tribes in the hands of the sectarian Iraqi regime (under the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki), the sectarian elements in army and the Iran-backed Shia militias had pushed a substantial number of the Iraqi Sunnis (of Arab ethnicity) to align themselves with ISIS.
But once the administration of Haider al-Abadi (who succeeded Nouri al-Maliki) managed to bring the Sunni Arabs on board by marginally wining their trust, the situation took an about-turn. The Sunni Arabs joined the US, the Iraqi army, the Kurds (the other Sunni ethnic population in Iraq), the Iran-backed Shia militias and the militias of Muqtada al-Sadr in order to fight the ISIS.
The result was obvious. The presence of ISIS in Iraq was substantially diminished.
Revival of ISIS if Iranian interference in Iraq continues
Now that ISIS’s presence has largely reduced in Iraq, the Iran-backed Shia militias might again turn their guns back on the Sunni Arab population — a scenario that will pave the way for either the revival of ISIS or emergence of an ISIS-like new group/s, who will try to capitalize on the renewed sufferings of the Sunni Arabs.
Hence, it is important to curtail Iranian interference in Iraqi politics. It is important to reduce Iranian influence on the Shia militias and to disarm them, so that they can cause no harm to not only the Sunni Arabs, but also the Shias from those schools of thoughts that are different from what these militias follow.
It, thus, appears that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s aforesaid condition of “Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias” is something that should be taken seriously by the governments of stakeholding countries (including Iraq), who then should put pressure on Iran to do exactly what Pompeo has asked to do in this regard.
France: New terrorism laws may undercut human rights and freedoms
While commending efforts by the French government to combat terrorism, a United Nations rights expert has raised concerns about the effect recent counter-terrorism laws are having on fundamental human rights there, including freedom of movement, religion and association.
Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights said she was particularly concerned that tough new security laws passed last November, may disproportionately stigmatize and further marginalize Muslim citizens.
She said it was clear that Muslims in France “have been the community primarily subject to exceptional measures both during the state of emergency and the new law, in tandem with other counter-terrorism measures,” Ms. Ni Aolain said, highlighting the example of mosque closures as an encroachment on religious freedom.
“There is no doubt that the State may lawfully engage in restrictions to protect public order, but a clear tipping point to exceptionality arises when counter-terrorism measures engage profound, sustained and potentially disproportionate effects on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and civil liberties,” she added.
At the Government’s invitation, Ms. Ni Aolain visited France from 14 to 23 May where she took account of the serious security challenges faced by French authorities. But she said the on-going threat of terror attacks and pressure on security services, did not excuse how laws were being implemented.
“It is deeply concerning that the Muslim minority community is being constructed as a per se ‘suspect community’ through the sustained and broad application of a counter-terrorism law,” she said at the end of the visit.
The new counter-terror measures came into force last November, formally ending a nearly two-year state of emergency after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Ms. Ni Aolain expressed concerns during the emergency period, that there were insufficient checks and balances to protect against administrative measures, including freedoms of movement, privacy, religious belief and practice.
According to the Special Rapporteur’s assessment, the continuing effect of these measures constitutes a de facto state of qualified emergency in ordinary French law.
She was particularly mindful of the effects these laws had on the of rights by French Muslim citizens and recommended that the Government create an independent body to oversee counter-terrorism and exceptional national security powers.
“France must continue to work in genuine partnership with all its citizens and take specific steps to prevent this conflation, which includes best practice on independent oversight, community consultation, prevention, and remedy when violations of human rights are established through legal and administrative action,” underscored the UN expert.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, on an honorary basis, to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or country situation.
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