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IHT: Chechen claims he tricked Russians

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  • Jeremy Putley
    Chechen claims he tricked Russians By C.J. Chivers The New York Times THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 MOSCOW Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terrorist leader and
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
      Chechen claims he tricked Russians
      By C.J. Chivers The New York Times


      MOSCOW Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terrorist leader and mastermind
      of the siege last year at School No. 1 in Beslan, claimed Wednesday
      that the siege was made possible with the help of Russia's special
      services, who allowed the terrorists a safe passage near the school.

      In an announcement on a Web site that frequently posts his
      statements and videos, Basayev said he had deceived Russian
      intelligence services, who believed his terrorists would attack a
      government center in the regional capital and cleared a route at the
      border in hopes of ambushing them along the way. The statement was
      immediately denounced by the Russian authorities, who dismissed it
      as "total nonsense" and the assertions of a "child murderer."

      "Investigators have no evidence suggesting that special services
      were in any way involved in the seizure," Nikolai Shepel, Russia's
      deputy prosecutor general, told the Interfax news agency.

      But the statement, timed to appear in the news as residents of
      Beslan prepare for the one year anniversary of the school seizure,
      exploited the uncertainties and lingering questions that continue to
      surround the terrorist act.

      There has been little public confidence in the federal
      investigations into the causes of the siege and the bungled Russian
      response, and Basayev touched upon one of the questions that
      Beslan's grieving families have found the most perplexing and
      disturbing: how did a truck full of armed and bearded men, many in
      masks, make its way in daylight through a heavily policed region?

      The Russian government has been unable to provide an answer that has
      met public satisfaction.

      According to Basayev's version, which is impossible to verify,
      Russian special services had managed to plant an agent last year
      inside the Riyadus-Salakhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of
      Chechen Martyrs, the terrorist group he commands.

      But the mole, whom Basayev said was detected, was convinced to
      become a double agent, and to deceive Russia rather than the terror

      The Russian special services, believing they had inside information
      into the group's plans, were then led to believe that the group
      would attack a government center in Vladikavkaz, the capital of
      North Ossetia, on Sept. 6., and would conduct a reconnaissance a few
      days before, Basayev said.

      Basayev said the group then took advantage of the ruse.

      "From Aug. 31 they opened a corridor for us for active collection of
      reconnaissance information and we used it to enter Beslan, having
      confused" them with "the time and the object of the attack," he
      said. Beslan is a town in North Ossetia not far from Vladikavkaz.

      Basayev also claimed to have at least one "live participant of that
      operation who is ready to testify."

      That claim was a second snub to the Russian authorities, who have
      insisted that 32 terrorists seized the school and all but one, who
      is now standing trial, were killed. Many survivors scoff at the
      official tally, and say that at least several more terrorists were
      present and either escaped or were captured and secretly held.

      The school was seized last year on the morning of Sept. 1, when the
      terrorists took nearly 1,200 hostages. It ended in battle and fire
      on Sept. 3; 331 people died, including 186 children. More than 700
      other people were wounded.

      The statement attributed to Basayev appeared on ww.kavkazcenter.com,
      an underground Web site that has often served as his mouthpiece.
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