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182


Unholy Wars


veterans, especially the Arab ones. In August 1995, a spokesman of the Russian Federal Security Service reported that units from Afghanistan and Jordan – which has a large and influential Chechen community in residence – were fighting on the side of Chechen President Joukar Dudayev. There were said to be about 300 foreign mercenaries at that time, out of a total Chechen guerrilla force of 6,000. Dudayev had begun recruiting Muslim mercenaries during a trip to Turkey, Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and Bosnia-Herzogovina. Later he acknowledged that Chechen volunteers were fighting with the Bosnian Muslims in the Bosnian war. As a pilot officer in the former Soviet airforce, Dudayev had at first declared


that he was fighting for a secular and democratic state; the Russian intervention of 1994 in fact hastened the “Islamization” of the war there. The conflict gave rise to terrorist activity in Chechenya itself and spillover activity in neighboring Ingushetia, Daghestan, North Ossetia, and in Russia proper, including Moscow. The most spectacular incident was the June 1995 seizure by Chechen fighters of the Russian town of Buddenovsk, in which over 100 people were killed and several hundred taken hostage. Shamil Basayev, the leader of the seizure of the Buddenovsk hospital and a right-hand man of Dudayev, was reported by the Russians to have been trained in Afghanistan by none other than the disciples of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. A diffuse anti-Russian terrorist organization in Chechenya was believed by Moscow to have links with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, though it was also supplied with arms, stolen from or sold by the Russian military. Aided by the hizbollah organization in Iran and in Lebanon – Dudayev visited Lebanon at least once – Afghan war veterans and Iranian volunteers entered Chechenya through Daghestan and Azerbaijan. One Chechen commando unit, headed by Salman Rauyev, married to a daughter or niece of Dudayev, after failing to capture the Kizlyar power station in Daghestan, guarded by the Russians, repeated the feat of Basayev at Buddenovsk by seizing a local clinic in a Russian town called Pervomayskoye. The 250 Chechen partisans, entrenched in the village, repeatedly repelled attacks by Russia’s elite SPETZNAZ troops, of Afghanistan fame. Mikhal Barsukov, chief of the Federal Security Service in charge of the special units, admitted that the Chechen fighters were “a very serious unit, very well-trained, very well-prepared.” – possibly by Pakistan’s ISI and the American CIA during the 1979–89 jihad, or afterward by the jihad’s many alumni. The Chechen war, which ended with withdrawal of the Russian forces from the exhausted and devastated country in 1996, aroused attention and sympathy among fellow Muslims elsewhere. In Turkey, the Islamist Welfare Party sponsored training camps for Islamic fighters, until a crackdown on the party and its leader, the portly Necmettin Erbakan, by the fiercely secularist Turkish army in 1996–98. ATurkish Fascist youth group, the “Grey Wolves,” was recruited to fight with the Chechens. One group under Muhammed Tokcan, an ethnic Abkhazian who had fought with Shamil Basayev in Chechenya and Abkhazia, hijacked a Black Sea ferryboat, the Avraziya, to show solidarity with the Chechen cause. Moscow exploded in


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