IHT: Chechen claims he tricked Russians
- 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 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.