The BBC is reporting that a Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov (also known as Dokka Abu Usman), has claimed responsibility for this week’s bombings in downtown Moscow.
In his video statement, reordered on March 29, 2010, Dokka Abu Usman said that the attack had been a retaliation and a retribution for the massacre by Russian invaders of the poorest residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia, who were picking wild garlic in the Arshty village on February 11, 2010, to feed their families.
He stressed that the killing of the most poor part of local residents had been deliberate, because the criminal FSB special forces finished off innocent civilians with knives, and then mocked on their corpses.
Video can be found here. According to Kavkazcenter, Usman said that the bombings in Moscow were
legitimate act[s] of retaliation for continued killings of civilians in the Caucasus. *
To me, at least, this is indicative not necessarily of “Islamic fundamentalist terrorism” so much as what is known in the North Caucasus as ‘adat, or customary law. One of the main features of ‘adat is one that should be familiar to anyone who has seen a few Sicilian mafia films: the blood feud, a seemingly endless series of reprisal killings committed in revenge for some original crime, each of which must in turn be avenged.
In any case, whether the Moscow bombings were in fact motivated by some sort of ‘adat justification writ large, simple religious/ethnic separatism, Islamic terrorism, or some combination of the three only matters insomuch that each may require a different policy response in the future; regardless of what actually motivated them, the bombings were ghastly and unconscionable.
Of course, I may be reading too much into this. Or if I am correct in detecting a hint of the ‘adat mentality, it may only be a smokescreen intended to garner support from other North Caucasians. Nevertheless, if the tradition of blood feuding has in some way shaped the decision to commit terrorist acts against Russia, recognition of that fact may help to inform Russia’s response.
Russian security organs are notorious for casting the net rather wide in terms of who they consider “linked” to terrorists, and their tactics make anything that happened at Guantanamo Bay pale in comparison. While it is clear that a strong response is warranted, if special care is taken to neutralize those people who were actually involved in the bombings without “disappearing” dozens of innocent Ingush, Chechens, and Dagestanis, perhaps the chances of such an attack being repeated once again can be lessened.
In any case, Usman’s admission of responsibility hasn’t stopped the head of Russia’s National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, from openly speculating that Georgia’s “unpredictable” president, Mikehil Saakashvili may have been behind the attacks.
Unfortunately, Max Hastings could not be reached for comment, though sources indicate that he has attributed Patrushev’s statement to the recent health care vote in the United States.
* Note: Kavkazcenter.com isn’t exactly the most unbiased source on the Internet, in case you were wondering.