Monday, July 10, 2006

Death Of A Warlord

The Chechen warlord who took responsibility for a series of attacks in Russia that claimed the lives of hundreds of people is dead.

Shamil Basayev was killed in an overnight raid, reportedly killed while accompanying a truck carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives that blew up in an Ingush village. Basayev first came to prominence in 1991, when he hijacked a Russian passenger jet and forced it to land in Ankara, Turkey. Russia had offered a $10 million reward for his capture.

It is difficult to put into context the good that Basayev did. A freedom fighter for his country, long arguing that Russian civilians were a legitimate target in the fight for Chechen independence, he was also believed responsible for the stadium-bomb assassination in 2004 of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov. His responsibility for some of the most notorious attacks in Russia, including the seizure of some 800 hostages in a Moscow theatre in 2002, the 2004 school hostage-taking in Beslan that killed 331 and the 1995 seizure of about 1,000 hostages at a hospital in Budyonnovsk that led to the death of more than 100 people have many Russian’s, President Putin, one of them saying Basayev's killing was deserved retribution. Putin is most likely also heaving a sigh of relief, no longer having to worry about a man who could have potentially disrupted the G8 summit in Moscow this year.

Chechen’s will mourn Basayev’s death. This is guaranteed, but what is not so certain is the next step. Basayev most likely has a successor the question is will that person follow the footsteps of the predecessor or distinguish himself in other ways?

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