On Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the tragic death of employees of the Russian Embassy in Iraq at the hands of terrorists. Photographs and short biographies of the Russians executed were published on the website for the department of external politics. From the first day of the hostages’ seizure, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted that it would make every effort to ensure the release of the Russian hostages. Their efforts were supported by the Islamic Conference organization and various Muslim governments.
However, only a few hours before the appearance on the internet of images showing the Russians being executed, Hamid Reza Assefi, official representative of Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared: “if the Russian side approaches us with a request, Iran is prepared to become involved in the situation and take steps to achieve the release of the Russian diplomats.” From this it can be concluded that Moscow chose not to approach Teheran for help, although it is known that Shiite Iran has a powerful influence over Iraq, reports the newspaper Kommersant.
On Tuesday, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to the incident of the Russian diplomats in Iraq as “an inhumane act”. In a statement published by ITAR-TASS by the representative of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamid Reza Assefi, the following comment was made: ‘Occupational forces stationed in Iraq are also responsible for this terrorist attack involving completely innocent victims.” “The presence of occupational forces in Iraq is the reason for the continuous terrorist attacks in this country”, he added.
Russia has already declared that it will determine the degree of responsibility of the coalition forces in Iraq for the death of the diplomats. “We are openly discussing the fact that either government structures ensure order, or else, if there are coalition forces, then these ensure order,” commented Anatolii Safonov, the special representative of the president of Russia, on the topic of international collaboration in the war against terrorism and international organized crime, on Tuesday.
After the tragedy of the Russian diplomats in Baghdad, he remarked, security will be increased in all Russian legations in global hotspots. A Russian diplomat who had worked in Iraq for many years informed Kommersant that, in his opinion, the abducted employees of the Russian Embassy had been victims of simple human weakness.
The reality is that even people involved in the current government of Iraq admit that the situation there is catastrophic and cannot be controlled either by the ruling powers or the occupational forces. For this reason, foreigners working in Iraq, including diplomats and employees of the embassy, must observe strict safety codes. In this instance, it is, regrettably, most likely that the incident was the result of a gross violation of all the safety regulations. When the Embassy employees emerged from their Chevrolet outside a small shop on the 3rd June, they were attacked by soldiers who had been following them. According to a representative of the press, a serious investigation must now be carried out, the results of which may lead to changes in the organization of the legation.
Meanwhile, the State Duma has prepared a declaration plan, in which responsibility for the deaths of the Russians in Iraq has been placed on the coalition forces. “This document, which will be discussed in detail by the Chamber on Wednesday, states that all responsibility for the situation in Iraq, including the responsibility of ensuring the safety of citizens of the country, as well as that of foreign specialists, belongs to the coalition forces and that the tragedy of the Russian diplomats could have been foreseen,” the head of the International Committee of Lower Chambers of Parliament, Constantin Kosachev, informed Interfax.
The declaration plan contains a demand directed to the ruling powers in Iraq and the “occupants” of the country to “follow up the circumstances of the murder of the Russian citizens thoroughly and take all possible measures to discover and punish the criminals. In addition, there was talk in the State Duma of the consideration of formats for the war against international terrorism.
Addressing the abductors and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, relatives of the hostages also emphasized the “particular position” of Moscow in relation to Iraq. They said that Russia is not an enemy, nor an occupant, that it stood against this war and actively tried to prevent it until the very last moment.
However, for the Modjahed Group, having taken responsibility for the abduction and murder, the rest of the world is divided, not into friends and enemies of Iraq, but into their “warriors of Allah” and foreign infidels, wrote a reporter for Izvestia on Tuesday.
From the point of view of the abductors, Russia is a “non-believer” and therefore an enemy to the same extent as America. “For this reason, Moscow’s politics, which try to play the role of intermediary and establish communication with the Hamas movement rejected in theWest and with Iranian Ayatollahs, completely contradict Islamic ideology,” reasons the reporter. Moscow only gets in the way of Al-Qaida’s goals “with its attempts to make peace between unspecified parties,” he concludes.
An enigmatic tape
What the Terrorists say in their statement
“Allah’s sentence concerning the Russian diplomats has been fulfilled. We have gained revenge on the non-believer Russian government for the torture and murder of our brothers and sisters. It is not we who invented murder as a means of war. This happened before us too. And it must be continued. Those who declare that killing in the name of Allah is sacrilege are mistaken.”
What is shown on the tape
The entire duration of the recording is 97 seconds. It begins with a quotation from the Koran, written in white letters on a black screen. A voice reads out: “When someone attacks you, you attack them”. Following this, images of diplomats appear, each of whom looks directly into the camera and speaks in Russian. The names, surnames, ages, duties, diplomatic representatives and marital status of the employees of the Russian legation are read out one by one – Fyodor Zaytsev, Oleg Fedoseev, Rinat Agliulin, Anatoly Smirnov. All the recordings are dated 13th June 2006.
Next, two men in black, wearing black masks, shout “Allah akbar!” Subsequently they decapitate first one hostage, then a second. Their eyes are covered and their faces are barely visible. A third hostage is led into the street and shot in the head. It remains unclear when these images were recorded.
Translated by Leila Wilmers
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