Tag Archives: Terrorism

In my article published the day before New Year’s Eve I posited that Russian diplomacy would devote all its efforts to convince their “US partners” to keep Putin and his personal financial guard out of the “Kremlin Report.” As the fateful January 29th deadline kept drawing mercilessly closer, the Kremlinites desperately had to find some kind of dramatic blackmail. And at the eleventh hour, a troika of Russia’s top security officials arrived in DC.

By then, the “Kremlin Report” had already been finalized by the agencies that drafted it and was ready to go to the Congress. As prescribed by August 2nd, 2017, Act, the Report included a list of individuals closest to Putin who were most intimately involved in his military and financial crimes.

On January 29th (when the Act-prescribed 180 days to draft the “Kremlin Report” expired), DC spent the day in anticipation. However, it was only learned the next morning that the report had in fact been presented at the stroke of midnight. The delay was apparently due to significant last-minute changes introduced at a very high government level. You will recall that the  Section 241 of the Act (concerning individual sanctions) required that the executive branch list the individuals close to Putin and involved in his crimes, as well as detail each such individual’s financial information, including net worth, sources of income, corruption schemes, property held by their family members, and include a comprehensive list of all such assets held in the US jurisdiction. The crucial last-minute change was the following: this detailed financial information was classified, hidden from the public eye in a special secret section of the Report.

While the “Kremlin Report” was being drafted, the very credible US institution, the National Bureau of Economic Research, estimated that private Russian assets in the US total around 1 Trillion Dollars (more precisely, between 0.8 and 1.3 Trillion). This number is mind-boggling. Even the most merciless critics of Putin’s regime had no idea the robbery was so large-scale. The Act required that this Russian Trillion is broken down in detail: How much belongs to Abramovich, how much to, say, Mordashov and to the various frontmen who hold Putin’s personal assets.

This now classified document numbers hundreds of pages and is potentially devastating to the Russian Kleptocracy for two reasons. First: Yes, it’s no secret in Russia that its rulers steal but that’s just general knowledge whereas detailed information about the hundreds of billions of dollars stolen from Russia by its rulers will have a great political impact, with consequences that are hard to predict. This is not even the robbery of the century – it’s the robbery of the millennium, unprecedented in world history. Never in the history of human conflict have so many been robbed of so much by so few.

The second reason the Report is devastating to the Russian Kleptocracy concerns the consequences of the Report for the Russian Trillion’s beneficiaries. When the classified portion of the Report is disclosed, its contents will easily enable the judicial authorities (with no new sanctions or other political decisions) to charge those named in the Report with money laundering, freeze their assets, confiscate these assets, and ultimately return the stolen goods to the victims of these crimes, the Russian people. In fact, the British government is already doing this, requiring Russian mega‑conmen (starting with RF First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov) to explain the source of their wealth. There is no way Russian leaders could have made this type of money legally during non-work hours.

And that’s exactly what the Russian elite has been fearing, which is why panic, and hysteria reigned on all Russian political TV shows on January 29th. During one broadcast, for example, a prominent public servant exclaimed: “Trump betrayed us! Now we have to reveal all the dirty laundry we have on him.” Intrigued, the host  asked: “Oh, we got dirty laundry on him?”- to which the politician exclaimed: “Sure we do!”

Compared to the day prior, the atmosphere on the same TV screens on January 30th was night and day, and we heard joyful exclamations “Trumpie is ours again!”, while Putin spent the day sounding off on how Russia must keep constructively working with the US (first and foremost, naturally, in the joint fight against Islamic terrorism).

For the umpteenth time, Putin passionately recited the story with the Tsarnayevs brothers, saying Moscow warned the US about the Tsarnayevs in 2011 but was ignored, and in 2013 the Boston Marathon bombing took place. Why does Putin permanently bring up the Tsarnaev story? The answer is simple: this is a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. In retelling the story over and over, Putin deliberately leaves out a key linking element.

Yes, it’s true that Moscow warned the US – twice – that the Tsarnayevs were dangerous Islamic extremists and potential terrorists. However, Moscow furnished no evidence that would enable the US authorities to prosecute the Tsarnayevs.

Still, after being alerted by Moscow, the FBI questioned Tsarnaev the elder – twice. Nevertheless, in 2012, Tsarnaev (now fully aware that the Russian authorities have declared him a dangerous Islamist extremist) traveled to Moscow. No, he didn’t find some secret trail to smuggle himself into Russia: He traveled quite openly, using his own passport, boarding a Delta flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He could only go to Russia if he had no doubt he’d be totally safe there (and why wouldn’t he be – after all, he was going to see his friends and mentors). Naturally, upon arrival, he was met by competent Russian authorities, under whose watchful eye he remained over the next six months or so while traveling in the Caucasus region and meeting with Islamist underground activists. Those activists were done away with, yet Tsarnayev remained safe and unharmed, returning to Moscow and, with his mentors’ blessing, boarding another Delta flight to the US, to meet his fate. The Boston bomber was loaded.

The story continues. In 2013 a group of US senators came to Moscow to investigate Tsarnaev’s Russian ties. After initially being given the run-around and told that Tsarnaev had never been to Russia, the senators then fell for a hoax when the Russians used a stool pigeon who promised to provide intel on Tsarnayev. What followed was an on-camera arrest of a US diplomat, quite theatrically orchestrated by the Russians. Thereafter Ambassador McFaul came to rescue the diplomat from the FSB, whereupon the Americans asked no more questions about Tsarnaev.

There is a great deal of direct, indirect and psychological evidence that, in 2012, Tsarnayev the elder spent six months in Russia getting ready for his 2013 mission in the US. Until and unless the Americans find the courage to face the truth about their Russian “partners,” those “partners” will keep on pulling the wool over the Americans’ eyes under the guise “fighting Islam terrorists together” – just like they did at a very high level on the eve of the “Kremlin Report” deadline.

Three war criminals (I call them that based on the aftermath of their ongoing actions in Ukraine and Syria) – Naryshkin, Bortnikov, and Korobov – unexpectedly arrived in the US, unhindered by the fact that two of them are named on the sanctions lists. While in the US, these three men met with their US colleagues, including CIA Director Pompeo. As seen from an interview with Director Pompeo and a handful of Russian and US publications, this trio used the same old tried-and-true blackmail methods Russia has been using throughout the five years following the Boston marathon bombing.

These three “nice guys” came to warn the American people of grave danger: After wrapping up the military campaigns in Iraq and Syria, hundreds, or even thousands, of Islamic terrorists of Russian and post-Soviet origin will be traveling to other countries and might end up in the US. Now wait a minute: the Kremlinites sent hundreds of terrorists to the Middle East from Russia, then proudly reported that all these terrorists have been wiped out ten times over by their glorious aerospace forces.  But now it turns out that apparently thousands of these terrorists are still out there, and if not for the resplendent Naryshkin, Bortnikov, and Korobov warning the US about this and taking themselves the necessary measures, these terrorists would be flooding the US, blowing up American cities. So, of course, you have to work with these great guys who have taken the time to warn their partners of a looming threat.

Putin’s entire crew of agents of influence in DC – the various simes, rojanskys, kissingers and grahams – are once again belting out in unison the mantra they have learned by heart: “We need the Russians, we need the Russians! We have to work with the Russians or we’ll get blown up in our own cities. And in order to make sure the Russians cooperate with us, we must forget about petty little disagreements on Ukraine and other issues. And we should forever abandon the idea of sanctions against Russia’s political leadership.”

The Kremlin has already used this cheap con dozens of times worldwide, and now the Americans fell for it once again. This time, one of the Boston Marathon bombing masterminds took part in the con in an especially callous way. It’s no accident that, whenever he brings up the Tsarnayevs, Putin says: “Bortnikov and I,” “I assigned this task to Bortnikov…” And now this Bortnikov-the Bostonian has come to the US to teach the Americans, and Bortnikov’s class is not on how to make cabbage soup, but on how to make American cities safe. For a true chekist (and Comrade Bortnikov recently told us he’s proud of each of the hundred years of this criminal organization’s (the KGB/FSB)) history, it’s just as much fun to pull the wool over the CIA head’s eyes as it is to shoot enemies of the people using Felix Edmundovich [Dzerzhinsky’s] Mauser. The degree of the Americans’ failure to understand who Mr. Putin and who Mr. Bortnikov are baffles the mind.

On January 31, I took part, I took part in the Atlantic Council seminar where the late-night metamorphosis of the “Kremlin Report” was discussed. At the seminar, I, like other speakers, ascribed the “Kremlin Report’s” overnight transformation to the Russian Troika’s DC visit. While discussing the January 30th reaction by Moscow, (which included yet another one of Putin’s diatribes on the Tsarnayevs), I did a little experiment: I asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they knew that Putin’s canonical account (of Russia warning the US about the Tsarnaevs) is incomplete because it leaves out the fact that Tsarnaev the elder spent six months in Russia in 2012 under total control of the FSB, and returned to the US unscathed and free from the FSB’s grasp. Not a single hand went up in the audience. Seminar participants honestly knew nothing about this and asked me lots of questions after the seminar. It’s worth mentioning that these weren’t just random people off the street – these 100 or so attendees were longtime experts in the security field or US-Russian relations. I was dumbfounded by how deep and pervasive the conspiracy of silence regarding the circumstances of the Boston marathon bombing run.

This silence on the subject is due to reasons of US domestic policy. The predominantly liberal US media vehemently flail Trump on a daily basis for displaying even a hint of flavor to the Putin regime. Yet the unspoken rule of political sparring doesn’t allow the media to bring up the Boston Marathon bombing’s Putinesque roots, because if the media were to do so, these fiery Democrats would have to admit that it was the Obama administration that deliberately hushed up the truth behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, the most devastating terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11.

One would think that by raising the Boston Marathon bombing issue, Trump could easily call the Democrats hypocrites and once and for all smite their accusations against him concerning his mysterious Putinophilia. However, this brutal alpha male’s puzzling timidity toward his Russian counterpart is not fake, it’s real.

And so, the American political class finds itself in a two-party trap of its own making and is forced to tamely chew the cud force-fed to it by the Kremlin called “our common interests in fighting Islam terror.”  On the night of January 29th, the Kremlin Special Troika and President Trump jointly halted (albeit hopefully not for long) the “Kremlin Report’s” devastating informational and financial blow. It’s worth noting that this blow would not be aimed at Russia, its target would be the criminal Russian Kleptocracy that’s been robbing and destroying Russia for a quarter century.

The stakes couldn’t be any higher right now: either the hundreds of classified pages of the Report are disclosed in the paramount interests of the Russian and American people, or else the US voluntarily becomes a long-term hostage of the Kremlin Kleptocracy.

In order to break free from the trap of “cooperating with Russia in the fight against Islamist terrorism,” the US Congress should undertake a real investigation into all the circumstances of the Boston Marathon Bombing and into the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts of supplying ISIS with militants from Russia and other former Soviet countries.

I would strongly recommend the Congressmen start by reading СNN National Security Analyst Michael Weiss’s brilliant article Russia’s Double Game with Islamic Terror. Published back in October 2013, the article was not heeded by the Obama administration and is yet to be read and heeded by the Trump administration. This is so perhaps due to the fact that, as far as I know, Michael Weiss is the only American asking very obvious questions, hard as they may be for those defending “cooperating with Russia.” Weiss asks:

But how did Tamerlan manage to arrive at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in January 2012, then proceed to Dagestan, after the FSB was obviously aware of his purported plans to join “bandit underground groups?”

How did Tamerlan get from Makhachkala to Moscow, then board a plane back to New York, if he was wanted for questioning by the Russian security services?

For any observer in Russia irrespective of his political sympathies, these questions are rhetorical, and the answer to both is the same.

To help the Congressmen with their investigation at least four people can shed valuable light on the subject. One is former Secretary of State John Kerry (who in 2013 accompanied a delegation of congressmen to Russia); another is former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul; the third one is the US diplomat and intelligence officer Ryan Fogle, who was arrested while trying to get information on Tamerlan  Tsarnaev’s sojourn in Russia, and, finally, there’s the younger Tsarnaev brother, who may well talk as the prospects of the electric chair are looming.

As of today, there are just two real political projects that are available for the Russian Muslims that they can choose in between. They are: al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the “Islamic State” (IS – a terrorist organization banned in Russia), and Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic and major general of the Russian police, who, as of late has been positioning himself more and more so as an advocate of Islam in Russia and around the world. As of today, there is nobody else there who is capable of competing with them for Islamic youth residing in urban and rural areas. The youth, which is on its quest for radical and simple ways of its personal self-fulfillment.

Nonetheless, and however paradoxically as they may appear, these two extreme figures are similar, both as far as their content is concerned, and aesthetically so as well. They both terrify the world with their brutality and the marching of the cut-throat assassins clad in black, they both have state agencies at their disposal, and they both enjoy an enormous amount of support outside the boundaries of the territories that are under their control. They both ascended to the leadership positions throughout the course of civil wars bloodbaths. They both have managed successfully to establish their control over quite substantial fiscal flows.

The IS prisons where the security services hold, torture and execute those dissidents who oppose them on the territories of the self-proclaimed caliphate were nicknamed in a joking manner by the Russian jihadists as: “department number six,” using the analogy with the Ministry of Internal Affairs subdivision, which is in charge of countering extremism and terrorism, and which has a notoriously infamous reputation for kidnapping people, and using torture against its detainees.

Only al-Baghdadi, who is 46 years of age has been already losing his caliphate, meanwhile, the 40-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov is quite possibly getting a new lease of life, his second wind both as a politician and a religious leader. The mass rally on September 4th that took place in the city of Grozny in support of the Myanmar Muslims, which was attended by representatives of various interpretations of Islam from different other regions – it simply is Ramzan Kadyrov’s report to the general public on the work of consolidating Muslims around himself, that has been performed during the last two or three years.

Cleanup of the alternatives

The polarization of the active part of the Islamic community has always been the result of the internal policy of Russia, whether it was done consciously or not, it is not up to me to be the judge of that. The criminalization of Islamic dissidents had begun in Dagestan in 1998 when the law on the prohibition of Wahhabism was approved. Later on, in the early 2000’s, several educational projects and amnesty attempts for Caliphate followers, which refuted violence ended up with the arrests of their movement participants and in forcing their members to go underground, along with the repressions against the clerical curators.

Such Islamic party movements as the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Tablighi-Jamaat, and Takfir-Waal-Hijra, which renounce the armed jihad version, were legally banned in Russia. In the mid-2000’s the attempts of the Islamic activists and intellectuals to come to an agreement with the Administration Office of the President in order to create an Islamic youth movement similar to those pro-Kremlin ones like “Ours/Our own” (“Nashi”) did not find support of the Kremlin’s political technical strategists. And the announcement of Doku Umarov’s, in which he had proclaimed the creation of the Emirate of the Caucasus (banned in Russia) and the shift of some part of the most radical activists towards joining the movement under his banners, those attempts were totally discredited.

The initiatives of Russian “converts” (those, who have converted to Islam from the Orthodoxy) organizations that are somewhat similar to the National Organization of Russian Muslims (NORM) got suppressed with equally vigorous severity, and their leaders and members were forced to emigrate outside of Russia.

The last attempt of the Muslims practicing Caliphate beliefs for peaceful co-existence with the governmental authorities were undertaken in Dagestan under the presidency of Magomedsalam Magomedov. With the support of the Administration of the President, they established an association of Islamic scholars and preachers – “Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a.” Now, most of its members have either emigrated or have been accused of supporting of the IS and sometimes those accusations were not without some legitimate merit. Small Caliphate communities continue to exist legally in the Nogai villages of the Stavropol Region, and in Ingushetia. However, in general, the cleaning up of the peaceful Islamic field has been accomplished.

The reprisals against dissidents who think differently have always been particularly brutal, in the Chechen Republic, and as far as the freedom of conscience is concerned, in the state headed by Kadyrov it was abolished in an absolutely medieval fashion: in 2016 a “spiritual and moral passportization” of the Muslims varying in age from 16 to 35 year old was launched – the document was monitored and signed by the people who bear responsibilities for the young person – the neighborhood police inspector, the head of the Teip (the Nakh family clan structure), and the head of the Wird (religious brotherhood). The most typical characteristic of the Chechen fight against dissidents is that its main criterion has always been, and it still remains either the loyal allegiance towards Ramzan Kadyrov’s or the absence of such.

Controlled underground movement

After the chaos of the Chechen wars, national movements and the turbulent re-Islamization of the 1990’s by approximately the mid-2000’s regional elites in the North Caucasus have learned how to resort to the utilization of the armed religious conflicts in their political and economic interests. From 2007 on (the announcement of the “Caucasus Emirate”) up until August 2012 (the murder of Sheikh Said Afandi Chirkeisky in Dagestan), that militant scheme was titled as the fight against international terrorism.

The correct, “traditional” Islam was put into an opposition to the Caliphate version, which was linked to the international terrorism. The history of mutual crimes committed against each other, including the killing of the well – acclaimed famous religious and social leaders were pushing each and every Muslim to define his choice towards either of the parties, despite the fact that the majority of believers attempted to take a stand of neutrality on the matter.

Both sides were putting demands to identify and pick his own side on every Muslim. In Dagestan, as well as in other regions of the country, there were Caliphate and Muftiyat (Muftiate) mosques. There were activists in both groups ready to join in the conflict at any given moment. The “Caucasus Emirate” was almost on the same legal page with the law enforcement agencies as a supplier of militant violence as a resource used as a resolution of commercial and political conflicts.

For example: in one of the of halal network bistros in Makhachkala city, where the visitors and the staff were predominantly of Caliphate belief some waiter refused the service to the police. Later on, the owner of the establishment fired that employee, in some part due to the pressure on behalf of the of law enforcement agencies, and in part due to the fact that the waiter simply did not wait on his customers. After that incident, threats followed from the organizations: “From the forest” and representatives of the “Caucasus Emirate” for firing a Muslim in order to appease the infidels.

After 2010 two things finally became quite apparent. The first thing was that Sufi Islam of the Clerical Spiritual Council has been losing its battle for the youth to the Caliphate version of Islam. It was exactly at that time when the Clerical Council Administration of the Muslims of Dagestan after it received a consent from Sheikh Said Afandi Chirkeisky, moved towards getting closer with the Caliphate religious trend, but two years later the Sheikh perished. The second thing that became apparent was that the “Caucasus Emirate” has been intertwined with the local elite and organized crime and that it has been transformed into a proxy organization, which is providing non-systematic violence to the political market of the region, making it non-transparent for the federal center.

In 2012, Sheikh Said Afandi was blown up by a female suicide bomber and the reconciliation of Sufis with Caliphates was ceased, a wave of repressions was launched against all non-systemic Muslims. A situation similar to that one in its structure has occurred in Tatarstan as well. There the cleansing of both the Caliphate followers and Hizb ut-Tahrir (banned in Russia), as well as the members of the Tablighi-jamaat, has reached its critical decisive phase after a former deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov had been assassinated, after which an attempt to kill the mufti himself- Ildus Faizov was made. One has to separate Islam from the politicized distortions that are being used by the Islamists and Jihadists, including those ones from ISIS, which is banned in Russia.

At the very same time when the cleanup of the field commanders of the armed underground had commenced and the cleansing also began of those linked to prominent political bigwigs from among the local elite communities, who had their own private armies and their allies as part of the armed underground movement.

Said Amirov, the mayor of Makhachkala, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in Dagestan, he was accused, among other charges, of having connections to the underground movement; the Director of the Republic’s Pension Fund – Saigid Murtuzaliyev was put on the wanted search list; Ibrahim Gadzhidadayev, the leader of the Gimrin armed group was murdered, and those politicians at the Republican level, who attempted to save him were arrested. Doku Umarov, Aliaskhab Kebekov, Magomed Suleimanov, who have been consequently succeeding each other as Amirs of the “Caucasus Emirate” were liquidated. Albert Nazranov, who was in charge of establishing liaisons between the political elite of the Republic and its armed underground movement was assassinated in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. In a short period of time, all of the well respected and acclaimed leaders of the underground movement were killed.

By 2012 the “Caucasus Emirate” has been practically destroyed. In the North Caucasus, Islamic preachers and activists were pushed into Syrian war, which became a massive trend before the Olympics, and continued on ever after Al-Baghdadi announced about the creation of the caliphate creation in the summer of 2014. Ramzan Kadyrov has practically declared al-Baghdadi to be his personal enemy, especially so since according to different sources about 5,000 Chechens from Russia and Europe have joined the IS, or some of its other fronts, that are predominantly linked to Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia) and the Caucasus Emirate. Chechens who are from both IS and the Emirate are the enemies of Kadyrov.

The second generation of urban Muslims, those whose families moved from villages to cities in the 1990’s and early 2000’s gives its preference to the global projects. It does not remember regional and local problems and has no desire whatsoever to know about them. It is exactly this generation that is choosing between Kadyrov and al-Baghdadi. And, it is exactly these young Muslims, who are the target audience of the head of the Chechen Republic in his fight for the leadership position among Russian Muslims.

The second life of Ramzan

When the followers of al-Qaeda, including the leaders of the Caucasus Emirate, talk about how the IS not doing the right thing, al-Baghdadi responds by saying: the IS fighting, the IS is supporting the Sharia law on its territory, and what is it that you all are doing?

When Kadyrov’s opponents say that he is terrorizing the Chechen people more and more Muslims answer that: he is defending Muslims all over the country, as well as around the world, and that in Chechnya, which is the only republic in Russia, Sharia Law is placed above the Russian Constitution, an Islamic dress code has been established in public places. There is something that was built in post-war Chechnya, there is order set there, and it is clean. Chechen cultural autonomies across the country and the diaspora throughout Europe (and, possibly, Chechen criminal networks with similar geography) all have a certain level of support from Ramzan Kadyrov.

Kadyrov and al-Baghdadi are sharing the same target group in Russia, as well as in Turkey and Europe among those Russian migrants. In 2015 a rally named “We are not Charlie” was organized in Grozny city. Using that rally as his venue Kadyrov has annunciated himself as the ideological leader of the protest aimed against globalization and the development of Western democracies of freedom that are associated with them.

A high-publicized scandal with the persecution and murder of gay men in Chechnya in early 2017, along with the statements made by the head of the republic on the topic have enabled Kadyrov to practically implicate all those Muslims, who could not condemn his openly homophobic rhetoric along with the violence for the sake of religious reasons as the co-conspirators in the suspected murder.

Grozny city fatwa (adopted in August of 2016 by the participants of the Islamic conference held in Grozny city, declared many religious trends as sectarian ones, which also caused a scandal and criticism in the Muslim world) -it is also a dispute between al-Baghdadi and the Caliphate sheikhs, who are close with al-Qaeda, and there is a solution, although it may not be the most successful one to the most convoluted mission: how while condemning and speaking out against international terrorism, and subsequently against those Muslims, who have already embarked on the path of jihad to still secure and keep their existing loyalty, and how to gain a new one from those young Muslims, who are almost ready to follow this path.

Ramzan provides support to all Muslims in all majorly well – resonant stories in the country, as it was in the case of the Chechen women, who got insulted while being on a walk in Voronezh. He financed Iftars (a meal after sunset during the fasting period in the month of Ramadan). In Moscow, he was offering a treat in halal cafes of the capital city to all Muslims who were willing to partake in it. He is working on saving children and women from the North Caucasus – the widows and the orphans of the IS militants, who have found themselves on the territories of Iraqi and Kurdish formations after the attacks on Mosul. By doing so he becomes an ally and a partner to those children, simply common Muslims, and even to his own enemies from the “Caucasus Emirate”.

That is why the organization of a rally with a million people in attendance (according to the data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic) in Grozny city in support of the Myanmar Muslims is an absolutely logical, essentially crucial move for Kadyrov as a political and religious leader of Russian Muslims. One can say that the Chechen leader is permitted to do that. Naturally so – he is allowed to do it. However, he is positioned at the very forefront of the Russian politics, there are millions of people behind him, his popularity is increasingly growing, and as far as the decision on whether to become the leader of an Islamized social protest movement, or whether to remain a general in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, this is not even up to Kadyrov to make this decision. The choice will be made for him by the circumstances.

 This article has first appeared in Russian at the Vedomosti site.

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