Sunday, February 20, 2011

Among the Sons of Togarmah, Part 2

It looks like I started this series just in time.

The three maps below show 1) the old Soviet political divisions in the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria is a little up and to the left from the center), 2) the location of Kabardino-Balkaria in the Russian Federation (it's the tiny pinkish spot in the lower left corner; you kind of have to squint), and 3) a close-up map of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Now for the news:

From Spike in terrorism in North Caucasus, February 20, 2011:

Terrorist activities have intensified in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, as this Saturday alone there were several reports of killings and bombings.

Three people were killed and two injured after gunmen fired at a tourist minibus heading to a popular resort area at the foot of Europe's highest mountain, Mt. Elbrus.

A few hours later, a bomb blew up a ski-lift tower at the resort. The blast tore over 30 cabins from the lift and damaged other ski equipment. No casualties have been reported.

Late Saturday night, hotels in the resort were evacuated after an explosive-packed car was discovered in the center of the town, which was full of tourists. Bomb disposal experts have managed to defuse all three explosive devices hidden in the car, RIA Novosti reported.

A law enforcement source told Interfax news agency that the explosive power of the devices was equivalent to 70 kilograms of TNT.

It was also reported that the head of the village of Khasanya near the republic's capital, Nalchik, was shot dead at a local fitness center by unknown criminals armed with automatic weapons.

On Sunday, a "counter terrorist operation" regime was introduced in several areas of Kabardino-Balkaria in order to find those responsible for the latest attacks and to prevent any future terrorist activity, RIA Novosti news agency reports.

Skiing tracks have reopened on Sunday after being shut the day before over security concerns, but tourists have already started to turn down travel packages to Kabardino-Balkaria, at the height of peak season.

It is assumed in the West that economic development will end terrorism, but such naive thinking fails to address the core of the problem: Islam, the holy texts of which call for brutal violence, and the founder of which was a criminal of genocidal proportions.

Skipping down:

The republic is considered the most stable in the volatile North Caucasus. There is speculation that Doku Umarov, Russia's most-wanted terrorist, who claimed responsibility for the January bombing at Moscow Domodedovo Airport, could be the mastermind behind these recent attacks.

Indeed, Umarov promised last year in an interview spectacular attacks to come:

Q. "What plans do the mujahidin have for the new year? Will there be an expansion for the zone of action?"

A. "The fighting zone will extend into the Russian territory. Praise Allah last year He showed us, and showed all doubters -- Putin, Nurgaliyev, that the 'Riyadus Salihiin' brigade has certainly been reestablished and is active."

"We are witnesses to how many special operations the group led in the last one year. The Shahid Brigade is growing with the best of the best mujahidin and if the Russians don't understand that war is coming to their streets, war is coming to their homes, then it's worse for them."

"Blood will no longer flow only in our cities and villages. War is coming to their cities."

"If the Russians think that war is waged only on television, somewhere far away in the Caucasus and it doesn't touch them, Insha'Allah, we plan to show them that this war will return to their homes."

"For this reason, the war zone will be expanded on all Russian territories, Insha'Allah, and I hope that in this year, Insha'Allah, with the help of Allah, successful operations await us."

"Allah Akbar!"

Returning to Spike in terrorism in North Caucasus, February 20, 2011

It is common practice for terrorists to target tourist resorts, says Fred Weir from the Christian Science monitor.

"It fits a pattern all over the world where terrorists who want to damage a country's economy attack tourists. Because when word of that spreads, people stop coming, hotels close down – all that money that comes with tourism stops. There is an amazing amount of damage that they can do."

"President Medvedev recently did announce a multi-billion dollar project to build ski resorts and hotels throughout that region, along those magnificent mounts and peaks, in order to encourage tourism. This is exactly the sort of thing that will deeply discourage it."

Further information on this series of terrorist strikes can be found in these articles, Russia imposes anti-terror regime in Kabardino-Balkaria after tourist attack, and Russia's Kabardino-Balkaria bombs were 'equivalent to 70 kg of TNT', both dated February 20, 2011.

It is interesting that the terrorists attack the very industry that the Kremlin hopes will stabilize the region.

Of course, the Kremlin has been behind the power curve regarding this situation for a long time.

Kabardino-Balkaria has been relatively stable, but only compared to other nearby places, such as Chechnya and Dagestan. A few months ago, the fifth anniversary of a severe terrorist attack on Kabardino-Balkaria's capital was observed.

That attack, on October 13, 2005, was carried out by Islamic extremists, but they did find recruits easier to come by, allegedly due government actions. From Fifth anniversary of Nalchik raid marked as instability in Kabardino-Balkaria grows, October 19, 2010:

Five years after the attack on Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkarian society is still deeply divided over the causes of those events. On October 12, the Kabardino-Balkarian Human Rights Center published an address signed by its chairman Valery Khatazhukov that blamed the destabilization in the republic on the government's inappropriate actions. "One to one-and-a-half years before those events [the October 13, 2005 attack] the adherents of an armed jihad comprised only small groups and did not have any significant influence among the Muslims," the rights activists said. "However, unlawful and unjustifiable oppression against the Muslims, their physical persecution, torture, unlawful detention, searches and shutting down their mosques rapidly radicalized them and strengthened the positions of the forces that preached armed jihad".

Economic development may get potential recruits for the jihad off the streets, but justice and honest, lawful government will remove some of the motivation.

(Which is a scary thing to consider, when one thinks about what is happening in America right now.)

While we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater - there are many good people who are Muslims - we are still left with criminals like Umarov, who find a home for their barbarity amid the holy texts left by centuries of Islamic scholarship.

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