GROZNY, March 9, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - In Chechnya, militants were killed during a special operation. One of the dead militants was carrying a British passport, Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the Regional Operational Staff for Controlling Antiterrorist Operations in the North Caucasus, told RIA Novosti.
"Federal forces received information about a group of bandits whose base camp was in the Kurchaloi district. The group consisted of ten militants, including foreign mercenaries from England and Algeria," Col. Shabalkin said.
According to him, during a special reconnaissance and search operation, a unit of federal forces succeeded in locating the militants' base. During the ensuing fight, federal forces killed three militants and wounded more than two militants. The rest of the group scattered.
The bandits managed to evacuate the wounded and one of the dead bodies. "That was evident from the bandages and the traces of dragging found when the base was examined," the colonel explained.
At the site of the fight, federal forces found 2 dead foreign mercenaries, 2 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 2 mines, 48-50 kilograms of TNT, 5 kilograms of plastic explosive, 27 electric fuses, 5 grenades, videocassettes, documents and Wahhabi literature, including pamphlets, newspapers and leaflets.
According to the headquarters, a British passport was also found at the base. The passport number is RP 0166202; it was issued on February 23, 2001 by the immigration department of the British Foreign Office to Binatia Yasin, an Algerian, who was born March 23, 1979.
The passport indicates that the holder visited Saudi Arabia from January 24 to March 17, 2003, Azerbaijan from June to September 2003 as well as some countries in the European Union. When the corpses were being identified, it was established that the document belonged to one of the killed foreign mercenaries, Col. Shabalkin said.
Larusi Osman is the other foreign mercenary who was killed. Mr. Osman appears on videocassette discovered in the camp that was recorded earlier at the same base. In the film, Mr. Osman and other militants identify themselves, pose and describe their participation in the preparation and execution of acts of sabotage and terrorism in the Russian Federation, Col. Shabalkin said.
According to him, Mr. Larusi's clothes contained a letter written in English. The letter indicates that its writer, Mr. Larusi, was probably a 30-35 year old Algerian or British citizen
"He was planning to leave Chechnya in the near future, because he was completely disappointed in a war that had no prospects and because Chechen militants were threatening his life," Shabalkin said.
According to him, the mercenary realized the fate of illegal armed formations and decided to leave the group.
In his letter, he asks Fatima Hadavi (the letter makes it clear that she is his sister and that she lives in London) to find Imada and Abdul Karima (supposed mercenary recruiters or intermediaries who arrange the transportation of mercenaries abroad) at the Finsbury Park Mosque and to send his passport to Chechnya via their ties in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The letter makes it clear that Mr. Larusi arrived in Chechnya on a passport issued in the name of Morad Hamdavi, a citizen of France, the headquarters spokesman said.
Documents that contain a list of the group, including the names, shoe size, and clothing size of nine militants, were discovered at the base. The list names seven Chechens (Abdul Gamid, Ruslan, Anzor, Ali, Muhammed, Yunadi, Rezvan) and two Arabs (Larusi and Binatia).
Col. Shabalkin said an analysis of the documents found at the camp and various materials revealed that Binatia Yasin entered Azerbaijan on a tourist visa in 2003. Then the foreigner illegally entered Georgia and then illegally crossed the border of the Russian Federation, and arrived in Chechnya, where he joined the group.
Mr. Osman, as he indicates in his letter to his sister, used a French passport in the name of Hamdavi Morad to arrive in Baku, and from there he illegally entered Chechnya via Georgia and joined the group. The mercenary's return route was also to have passed the same countries, Mr. Shabalkin said.
"It is noteworthy that the remaining group took the body of the dead Chechen militant with them. Usually Chechen militants abandon the bodies of foreign mercenaries and do not bury them according to tradition, before sunset, " the headquarters spokesman noted.
This is not the first time federal forces have killed mercenaries who were members of militant groups or who arrived in Chechnya illegally via Georgia or Azerbaijan, Col. Shabalkin recalled.
Col. Shabalkin believes that this case (the location and killing of foreign mercenaries from illegal armed formations) highlights the need for the authorities of the UK, France, Algeria, Georgia and Azerbaijan and the entire international community to pay more attention to measures to halt the recruitment of new mercenaries and close the channels through their territories that are used to conduct terrorist activity on Russian territory.
"Foreign citizens whose relatives are in these groups or intend to come to Chechnya to take part in combat operations against federal forces should know that bandit groups have entered their final phase, and that foreign mercenaries face inevitable death. In these conditions, the relatives of these recruits can and must prevent in any way, their recruitment and dispatch to Chechnya to meet a certain death," the colonel said.