Terrorism has no nationality, citizenship or state borders. The explosion in the Moscow metro, which claimed the lives of innocent civilians, reminds me of the tragedy in Jerusalem several weeks ago. The only difference is that the bomb was planted on a bus in sunny Jerusalem, while an underground train was targeted in the snow-clad Moscow. This is all.
As a RIA Novosti correspondent in Israel for years, I almost grew accustomed to terror. The more than three years of al-Aqsa intifada have claimed many lives on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ambulances that rode with screaming sirens along the Garden Ring past the RIA Novosti building in Moscow to Paveletskaya Railway Station poignantly reminded me of my recent Israeli posting. It was just like in Tel Aviv and Netania, with sirens, police cordons and congested traffic.
The terrorists' aims are, presumably, the same, too: to demonstrate their ability to intimidate a giant city, ignoring the authorities which, as the masterminds of terrorist acts claim, will eventually bow to their will and demands. The explosion in the Moscow metro was apparently a terrorist attempt to demonstrate their power before the March presidential elections.
Nobody has uttered the fateful phrase, "Chechen connection," so far. The security services have warned journalists against making hasty conclusions. But the people, who remember too well the hostages in the Dubrovka theatre centre and the explosion near Red Square apparently timed to coincide with the December elections to the State Duma, are already talking about "Chechen suicide bombers." As many people in Russia say, this is clearly "their style." They also recall Israel, meaning that life in Russia is becoming closely reminiscent of Israeli realities, with explosions nearly every day.
They may be right, to a degree. The common element in both cases is that it is Islamic extremists who place bombs in the hands of terrorists - Chechen or Palestinian. It became clear long ago that these radicals are trying to exploit conflicts across the world where Muslims are involved, to one degree or another, including in the Middle East and North Caucasus.
But the conflicts are not similar, as some people try to assure us, and it would be completely wrong to equate Chechen with Palestinian realities.
To begin with, Israel is the occupying power in the Palestinian territories. Many statements have been made and special UN resolutions have been adopted on this issue. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself has admitted the fact. But not a single responsible politician has applied the situation to Russia and Chechnya. On the contrary, they usually admit that the North Caucasus developments are the internal affair of Russia and describe Chechens as separatists, just like there are in many other countries.
Besides, there are three basic "insoluble problems" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the status of Jerusalem, the problem of refugees, and future borders between the two states. Russia and Chechnya do not face such problems. Nobody claims the Chechen city of Grozny, all Chechen refugees may return home (the Russian authorities would be happy if they did), and nobody disputes the administrative border of Chechnya. Is there really anything in common?
The Chechen field commanders who are hiding in the mountains would like to be compared to the "unyielding Palestinians" and show to the world - above all its Islamic part - that their "struggle against the Russians" should be granted the same vigorous support as the "struggle of the Palestinians against the Israelis." This is partly why Chechen bandits have taken up the idea of "shahids," meaning suicide bombers who are so popular in Arab countries.
Some Chechen bandit ideologists have probably decided that this "form of struggle" can be profitable. This is why more Chechen youngsters are being "recruited" to become shahids, and this "recruitment" is far from always voluntary because the said young people are put on drugs to ensure that they do the terrorists' will.
Russians' blood is of the same colour as the blood of Israelis. And so terror that claims the lives of innocent people is utterly unacceptable and criminal, no matter what goals its inspirers and organisers may pursue or where the explosions shatter peace, in Moscow or Jerusalem.