Basayev had pushed the logic of terrorism with spectacular attacks, now he was presumably killed by an explosion on the way to a new attack
According to Russian intelligence, Shamil Basayev, one of Chechnya’s best-known terrorist leaders, and in any case the most wanted, was killed along with 11 other men. The death was also confirmed by the website KavkazCenter, which is close to the rebels. Only recently Basayev was appointed vice-president of Ichkeria (as the rebels call Chechnya), which indicated a radicalization of the resistance. Doku Umarov had only recently become president after the previous rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev was killed.
Shamil Basayev. Image: KavkazCenter
Basayev could be called the Sarkavi of Chechnya, if he had not been responsible for raising the terrorist strategy to a new level, which served as a model for Sarkavi. At least Basayev was one of the masterminds who introduced mass hostage-takings of hundreds of people and staged spectacular events in line with the terrorist media strategy. In doing so, however, he also played a crucial role in dividing the rebel movement and discrediting the Chechen struggle for independence abroad. In 1999, he led the first mass hostage situation in which rebels entered a hospital in the Sudrussian city of Budyonnovsk and 1.500 people made their prisoners. The action lasted several days, about 100 patients were killed by the attempt of the Russian soldiers to storm the hospital. After negotiations Basayev withdrew. Already in 1991 the Chechen, born in 1965, had started his terrorist career with an airplane hijacking for the liberation of the country from Russia.
For Basayev, the Chechen conflict, which began in 1991 after the proclamation of independence by the elected president Dudayev, was probably a decisive event. As a failed student, he worked as a computer salesman in Moscow and discovered the meaning of his life in the simple values of struggle and later in those of fundamentalist Islam. After the hijacking, Basayev went to Abkhazia, where he fought against the Georgians on the side of the separatists, possibly with Moscow’s support, and where he allegedly already demonstrated his cruelty. It is possible that he stayed in Afghanistan and got acquainted with the Islamist rebels fighting there. After the invasion of Russian troops and the fall of Dudayev in 1994, Basayev joined them and commanded a unit of Chechen fighters who were largely routed in the fighting. In 1995, a Russian bomb that struck his home in Vedeno killed his wife, children, and other family members. After the successful occupation of the country and the retreat of the defeated Chechen fighters, they turned to terrorist attacks. The radical idea of attacking a hospital and taking employees and patients hostage probably grew out of the military defeat and personal fate.
Shamir Basayev and Aslan Mashkadov. Photo: KavkazCenter
In 1998, after negotiations under Yeltsin and a peace agreement with Russia, Basayev ran for president, but was defeated by the more moderate Aslan Maskhadov, who appointed him head of government. Basayev resigned from the post shortly afterwards, preferring to go to war again in 1999. This time, already strongly Islamist, he wanted to conquer Dagestan and turn it into an Islamic state. Russian troops were able to put down the uprising, and tensions between the Chechen and Russian governments increased. When in September 1999 attacks were carried out on residential buildings in Moscow, the Russian government – above all the then head of government Putin, who shortly afterwards became Russian president – took this as an opportunity to invade Chechnya again, assuming – or at least claiming – that Chechen terrorists under Basayev were responsible. Who the perpetrators really were is not known to this day (A few sugar sacks and a won election).
Basayev took part in the second Chechen war and lost his leg in 2000 when he stepped on a landmine during the retreat from Grozny. Basayev continued to jerk away from Maskhadov, who was too tempered for him, and was probably behind the next spectacular and sophisticated terrorist attack to take place after the 11.9., when all the world was looking to Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, turned attention back to the Russian-Chechen conflict. The occupation of the theater in Moscow (The Media Coup in the Theater) during a performance and the taking of more than 1000 people hostage were possible only with a suicide squad. During the liberation more than 120 hostages were killed by the gas used by the Russian special forces. The hostage-takers, including women, were shot dead. Shortly thereafter, Basayev was responsible for an attack on the government building in Grozny. In 2004, he was believed to be behind the assassination of pro-Russian President Akhmad Kadyrov, whose son, a leader of a notorious militia, has now taken over the government and is cracking down on rebels.
In 2004, Basayev took the spiral of attention terrorism even further by organizing the mass hostage-taking at the Beslan school ("A total, cruel war"). More than 300 people, mostly children, were killed, especially during the initial storming. The Russian government put a $10 million bounty on the terrorist leader, whose strategy of targeting civilians was increasingly rejected by the more moderate rebels around Maskhadov after Beslan. His death in the spring of 2005 (the fronts in Chechnya hardened) led to a new radicalization of the rebels, so that Basayev could rise again in the hierarchy. One of the last rough actions of Basayev was the attack on the Russian city of Nalchik. The rebels attacked and briefly captured government buildings. Allegedly, they wanted to steal a military jet from the airfield in order to use it to fly one of the 11.9. Attack in Moscow.
Intelligence chief tells Russian President Putin about the death of the terrorist leader. Photo: Kremlin
Now special units of the Russian secret service FSB, having killed several rebel leaders before, have also caught Basayev, or at least they were able to report his death. The head of the secret service said that the terrorists were killed during a "special operation". They had just prepared an attack that was said to have been planned during the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Basayev recently thanked the Iraqi terrorists who killed five Russian diplomats and demanded that Russia withdraw from Chechnya. Putin declared that death was the deserved punishment of the terrorist. In total, as reported by Interfax, 13 rebels are said to have died. But whether this was actually the success of the "special operation" or caused by an accident is questionable. Apparently, the rebels, who were traveling in a convoy of vehicles, were killed by an explosion caused by a truck loaded with explosives. It is not known how the explosion occurred. Basayev could be identified from found body parts. Media also suspect it could have been a targeted killing by an aerial attack.
Basayev’s death, which has been claimed many times, has now been confirmed by the rebel website. Abdallah Shamil Abu-Idris, as Basayev last called himself, has become a martyr (Shaheed), rebel leader Abu Umar said. Here, in any case, the theory is that Basayev was not killed by Russian soldiers, but by an accidental explosion of explosives. There had been no special operation. The Russians had announced Basayev’s death only hours after a commander had reported an explosion. According to KavkazCenter there should have been also only four deaths.
The hope now is that the Islamists’ resistance could collapse with Basayev’s death. Human rights activists such as Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Helsinki Group also hope that terrorist attacks like the one on the school in Beslan will no longer occur. Basaywe has become a "symbol of violent and brutal terrorist attacks" in which many innocent people died. However, she believes that even if no more gross terrorist attacks are carried out, the situation in Chechnya will not change. The head of the Chechen government, Ramzan Kadyrov, considered Basayev’s death a serious blow to the rebels and announced that other terrorist leaders, such as Abu Umar, would follow the same path. Even after the death of the terrorist leader Sarkawi, it was hoped that the terrorist attacks in Iraq would decrease and the resistance would collapse. This has not come true. In Chechnya, too, the use of massive violence and repression can limit the number and ability of insurgents and terrorists to act, but, as the two wars have shown, this can also lead to a strengthening of terrorist activities as long as the situation in the country does not change. And it does not look like it. After all, Putin, like Bush, has become popular and strong through terrorism. Both have based their political strategy on it and see their countries in the fight against terrorism, which is mainly militaristic and must be fought with hardness. Putin had just had his power expanded as a warlord: License to Kill Abroad).
Inconvenient for Putin is the news of the death of the notorious terrorist chief shortly before the G-8 meeting on 15. And 16. July in St. Petersburg certainly not inconvenient. The success is already attributed to the operations of special forces operating abroad, where weapons are collected and smuggled into Russia. Thus, Russia not only presents itself as a country threatened by terror, which must defend itself against it like all other countries, but Basayev’s death is also supposed to justify covert operations abroad and preventive interventions.