The explosions in Znamenskoye and Al-Riyadh were ordered by one and the same "patron", international Islamic terrorism
The explosion of a military truck in the Chechen village of Znamenskoye claimed the lives of 55 people, including women and children, and more than 200 injured people were hospitalized, with many of them in a critical condition.
Twenty-nine people, including 7 Americans, were killed and 194 wounded in an attack with explosive-rigged automobiles driven by suicide bombers in residential districts mostly populated by foreigners in Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
These two tragedies differ in the number of victims. However, the two acts of terror, which were separated by 2,340 km and a 14-hour interval, look very much alike.
Both were very carefully planned. The latter was aimed against the Americans and timed to coincide with the arrival in Al-Riyadh of US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The former was designed to spoil the Victory Day celebrations in Chechnya and disrupt the process of political settlement there, which has been successfully launched by the referendum on the Chechen constitution.
President Vladimir Putin had every reason to conclude that the styles of the two acts of terrorism were absolutely similar and their results of the same scale. The Russian leader meant what the Kremlin has long been insisting on: that the so-called separatist rebels in predominantly Muslim Chechnya are just another front for the al-Qaeda world terrorist network which blew up the New York skyscrapers, the disco hall in Bali, etc. (just look at the tragic record of developments of the past few months).
It seems that the acts of terrorism in Znamenskoye and in Al-Riyadh put a final equality sign between "classical" international terrorism and Chechen terrorism, which the Western mass media have for many years shyly called "people's resistance" or "an armed fight for national independence" or "an anti-colonialist movement".
Undoubtedly, the explosions in Znamenskoye and Al-Riyadh were ordered by one and the same "patron", international Islamic terrorism. Philip Reeker, deputy spokesman for the US Department of State, said that the ruins of the residential districts in the Saudi capital bore al-Qaeda's imprint. In their turn, Russian Federal Security Service investigators say there is a connection between the explosion in Znamenskoye and the Arab terrorist group led by Saudi Abu Valid, a notorious agent of al-Qaeda itself, that is operating in Chechnya.
Bin Laden's motherland remains a major exporter of terrorists both to the US and Chechen fronts.
The US' attitude to the Chechen conflict has been clearly breaking through its impasse since the September 11 events. US investigators seem to have woken up, looked around and spotted a funding source for Chechen gangs right by them, in Chicago. It was established that the Benevolence International Foundation, which had found shelter there, had managed to send more than $300,000 to militants in Chechnya. The search in the Foundation's office in Bosnia revealed an unambiguous hand-written order by Osama bin Laden himself reading: "The time has come to attack Russia." The time has also come to start treating seriously Moscow's statements about the link between Chechen militants and al-Qaeda, the US administration seems to have decided.
As a result, the US Department of State has included three Chechen groups - the Islamic International Brigades, the Islamic Special Task Regiment and the Reconnaissance and Mining Battalion of Chechen Martyrs - on its black list of terrorist organizations. Their accounts in US banks have been frozen.
The explosions in Znamenskoye and Al-Riyadh again reminded Moscow and Washington that differences neither on Iraq, nor on the UN's role in international affairs, nor on the ill-fated Jackson-Vanik Amendment, should not erase from memory Putin's telephone conversation with Bush right after the events of September 11, 2001. Then, the two presidents decided to join efforts to counteract a global evil - international terrorism - in all its manifestations, Chechen terrorism included.
Vladimir Simonov, RIAN
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