CHECHEN TERRORISTS SPEAKING WITH A FOREIGN ACCENT

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BY RIA Novosti analyst Vyacheslav Lashkul

The Qatar-based TV Channel, al-Jazeera, has shown a video recording of a statement made by Arab terrorist Abu al-Walid, who has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks in Russia. It should be recalled that he is the deputy to the head of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ichkeria, Aslan Maskhadov, and a key figure in subversive operations. He is wanted by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office for masterminding explosions in Mozdok and Moscow.

In his latest public statement, Abu al-Walid made new threats to Russia. Posing before the camera against the background of an OZM-4 land mine, he stated that Russians "will find such weapons on their land, in the midst of their families". According to al-Jazeera, the footage was recorded at a militant base in Chechnya's forests, where Abu al-Walid commands a group of foreign mercenaries.

Indeed, the regional HQ for the Counter-Terrorist Operation in the North Caucasus recently confirmed that two of the terrorist's comrades had been killed in a reconnaissance-search operation conducted by the Russian security services in the Kurchaloi district of Chechnya. A British passport was found on one of the dead militants. It had the serial number RP-0166202, issued by the Home Office's immigration and Nationality Directorate, to a certain Binatia Yassin, b. 1979 in the city of Algiers, Algeria. The passport contained entry visas showing that its owner had visited Saudi Arabia between January 24 and March 13, 2003 and Azerbaijan from June to September 2003. Using this document, Mr Yassin had also visited some European Union countries. It has been established that in 2003 Binatia Yassin arrived in Azerbaijan on a tourist visa, then illegally travelled to Georgia, from where illegally crossed the Russian border and arrived in Chechnya where he fought in an armed group against Russian forces.

The other foreign mercenary was Larusi Osman. A videocassette found on the site of the battle shows footage recorded at a militants base. The men identify themselves on the cassette and describe how they prepared and carried out terrorist attacks in Russia. Other members of the gang were also been recorded on the videocassette, while a letter written in English was found in Osman's clothes. The author was probably an Algerian citizen or a British subject, aged 30-35.

Judging by the letter, he intended to leave Chechnya soon because he was totally disillusioned and had received death threats from Chechen militants. In his message addressed to Fatima Khadavi (it is clear from the letter that this is his sister who lives in London), he asks her to find Imad and Abdullah Karimov at the Finsbury Park mosque. Presumably, these are the recruiters or intermediaries that organised the mercenaries' passage abroad. The letter contains a request for his passport to be sent to Chechnya so that he would not encounter any problems at the border during his journey home.

This is not the first time that Russian forces have eliminated foreign mercenaries who crossed into Chechnya illegally. The bodies of citizens from Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other countries have also been identified.

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