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Some Long-Range Intelligence

posted by zaina19 on July, 2006 as ANALYSIS / OPINION

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Some Long-Range Intelligence
By Yulia Latynina

President Vladimir Putin has instructed Russia's special services to do whatever necessary to seek out and destroy the criminals behind the murder of five Russian diplomats last month in Iraq.

This is a bit strange. Iraq is far away, but Chechnya is much closer. Why don't we destroy Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev first?

Iraq is far away, but Beslan is much closer. Why don't we first destroy the terrorists who escaped after the Beslan tragedy?

One of the gunmen some Beslan hostages say got away was the head of a group of fighters and most likely the organizer of the attack. Ali Taziyev, who many speculate also goes by the names Magomed Yevloyev and Magas, has also been identified as having organized an attack on Nazran on June 22, 2004. After the murder of Ingush Deputy Interior Minister Dzhabrail Kostoyev, Basayev reportedly appointed Yevloyev commander of the Ingush front. Although Yevloyev's body had supposedly been identified after the Beslan attack, the Ingush Interior Ministry "forgot" about this when subsequently identifying him as the organizer of Kostoyev's killing.

Why doesn't the Kremlin order Yevloyev's death? It could at least stop insisting that all the Beslan attackers are dead.

The Kremlin's reaction to the abduction and murder of the Russian hostages in Iraq was ambiguous, to say the least. There were hints that the Americans might have kidnapped them. In fact, after the hostages were killed, Lyubov Sliska, first deputy speaker of the State Duma, called it an "execution," and said the occupation forces, naturally, were to blame. This is the first time in my memory that an official has used the same language as the terrorists. Why didn't we call what happened in Beslan the "execution of children?"

The confidence with which people who can't catch terrorists whom they have already identified in a small area promise to take care of unknown terrorists in a country the size of Iraq is amazing.

It seems we're in better shape in Iraq than in Chechnya. Our intelligence forces are demonstrating truly superior abilities. Less than 12 hours after the Americans entered Baghdad, an acquaintance called me to say that museums were being looted there on the direct order of Condoleezza Rice. The person said the information came from top-secret intelligence. You've got to hand it to our intelligence officers. Within 10 minutes of the start of the looting they were able not only to intercept secret discussions between Rice and the looters, but also to send a coded message to headquarters, which was immediately passed around by phone. Maybe we ought to send those aces to the Caucasus and let them search for Yevloyev and Basayev?

In June 2004, Putin astonished U.S. President George W. Bush with information about acts of terror planned by Saddam Hussein in the United States and wanted to pass this on. After a short pause, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he had never heard information of this kind. The incident was significant because Putin didn't fire anyone for feeding him disinformation. On the contrary, he believed them with such certainty that he passed their information onto the Americans.

So we shouldn't worry about Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev. He'll carry out the president's order. And six months from now, in the ruins of a five-story building destroyed by tanks sent to kill one fighter, they won't find plans for the Beslan attack or 20 cases of explosives unharmed by the tank. Instead, they'll find a hand-written confession that he -- Vakha, or Magomed, or Musa -- kidnapped and killed the Russian diplomats.

It's possible that Putin will then show that piece of paper to the Americans and point out how well our guys work. As long, of course, as Vakha doesn't write posthumously that he killed the diplomats on CIA or Mossad orders.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.

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