Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report 28

Photo russian_mosqueOctober 30, 2010

CONTENTS:

  • POLITICAL MANEUVERING AROUND CE SCHISM CONTINUES
  • ANNOUNCEMENT 

* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, Seth Gray, and Daria Ushakova.

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POLITICAL MANEUVERING AROUND CE SCHISM CONTINUES

The Chechen amirs of the CE’s Nokchicho (Chechen/Ichkerian) Vilaiyat (NV) who broke with CE amir ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov in August have issued video and text statements explaining their actions.  In turn, Umarov has responded with moves to step up the pressure on the the dissenting amirs and any mujahedin who may be following them to return to the CE’s fold.

The independent Nokchicho Vilaiyat (INV) amirs – ‘Mansur’ Hussein Gakaev, Aslanbek Vadalov, Tarkhan Gaziev – (minus their Jordanian colleague Abu Anas Muhannad) announced the formation of their own Nokchicho structures and the distribution of top posts among them.  For the most part they reiterated the charges they have made in the past concerning Umarov’s alleged failure to consult with other amirs or convene the Madzhlisul Shura and his commission of unidentified mistakes.[1]

The dissenters also reiterated that while they have renounced their bayats to CE amir Umarov, they remain part of the CE, consider the mujahedin of the CE’s other vilaiyats [Dagestan Vilaiyat, G’alg’aiche (Ingushetia and North Ossetia) Vilaiyat, and the United Vilaiyat Kabardia, Balkaria, and Karachai, which includes the territories of the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachai-Cherkessia] to be their “brothers,” and hope they will soon reject Umarov’s leadership so they can move forward together.  The dissident amirs also requested their “brothers abroad” to offer assistance of all kinds.[2]  Importantly, the breakaway INV amirs emphasized that they remain committed to the broader jihad and the establishment of a Shariah-law-based state beyond Chechnya.  In this regard, Vadalov said:

Do not think that the cause of our split is specficially Nokchocho, Ichkeria or that we desire something even more.  No, of course.  Our intentions, and Allah sees this, is the establishment of the Law of Allah, the laws of Shariah, the liberation of our people, the Caucasus, and all Muslims, Allah willing.  All our major Amirs, who left us – Maskhadov and Shamil and Abdul-Khalim (Sadulaev) as well as the Akhmadovs, the Baraevs – had these same intentions.[3]

Gakaev also mentioned “Jihad in the Caucasus” but seemed to put more emphasis on the “liberation of Nokchicho (Chechnya).”  However, since his writ does not extend beyond Chechny and as his emphasis on ‘Nokchicho’ came in his discussion of the new Madzhlis, (which he did not say) giving him the right to reach out to compatriots domestic and abroad for assistance, it is far from clear that this can be interpreted as a sign of waivering regarding the question of the emirate and global jihadism versus Chechny and national separatism.  In this part of his statement, Gakaev also seemed to hold out an olive branch:

There are quite a few people, who due to certain circumstances were declared apostates and hypocrites.  If these people are found to be under the Word of Allah and acknowledge the laws of Shariat, relying on Allah, if they are not opponents of the ongoing Jihad in our country, if they are not traitors in relation to Nokchicho or apostates and hypocrites, and if they are concerned for the Chechen people and desire the liberation of Nokchicho from these infidels, apostates, and hypocrites, then any person, any group of people will needed by us.  The Madzhlis gives such rights.

I speak to those who have ended up beyond the country’s borders.  We are not pushing you away from us, Allah willing.  Any of you who adheres to the 5 points enumerated above, he is our brother, Allah willing, and any assistance from him will be met with gratitude.  I enumerate these points once more: be subordinate to Allah, observe the laws of Shariat, acknowledge the ongoing Jihad in the Caucasus, have concern for our people, and desire the liberation of Nokchicho from these infidels, apostates, and hypocrites.  Will you help the mujahedin? Please, we are not pushing you away.  If you have any sort of advice, then send it to us if you really worry for your people, your country, and Muslim umma.  Any advice, let it even be from 10 people, we will put it up for discussion by the Madzhlis.[4]

There is still no sound evidence that the Nokchicho amirs split with Umarov is a function of a return to Chechnya-focused national separatism.  To the contrary, Vadalov’s explicit statement that the breakaway INV amirs remain committed to liberating all Muslims.  As noted previously in IIPER, any dispute with the CE’s ranks over the issue of nationalism is likely about the utility of using nationalists as allies in the struggle to seize power much as Vladimir Lenin promised national autonomy to Russia’s national minorities during the communist revolutionary struggle.  An attendant dispute might be about how much open commitment to global jihadism should be toned down during the jihadi revolutionary struggle.

Tarkhan Gaziev also asked for assistance from those abroad but cautioned them to subordinate themselves to the mujahedin’s will and not try to dictate to the mujahedin.[5]  This could have been a vailed reference to Arab sheikhs like Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and Abu Basyr At-Tartusi who have gained great influence with Umarov and other CE amirs, especially those in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria.

They also announced that they had convened their own Shura and that Hussein Gakaev had been chosen as the INV’s amir, Tarkhan Gaziev was chosen as Gakaev’s naib, Aslanbek Vadalov is amir of the Eastern Front.  According to Gakaev, he, Gaziev, Vadalov, Abu Anas Muhannad, and the amirs of all the INV’s fronts and sectors as well as former mujahedin perhaps are members of the independent Nokchicho Vilaiyat’s Big (Bolshoi) Madzhlis Shura.  However, as I discuss below, some amirs have retained their bayats to Umarov, according to the CE amir himself and at least one videotaped piece of evidence.  Gakaev also reported that the Small (Malyi Madzhlis) Shura was also created and consists of ten ex officio members: the amir (Gakaev), naib (Gaziev), the amirs of the Eastern and Western Fronts (Vadalov and Muhannad who he mentions as a member by name also), and the amirs of three sectors from each of the Eastern and Western Fronts, apparently only two fronts the independent Nokchicho mujahedin control or have refashioned.  The sector amirs in the Malyi Madzhlis representing Muhannad’s Western Front are identified as Zumso, Abu-Muslim and Abdullah; the sector amirs from Vadalov’s Western Front are identified as Markhan, Muslim, and Zaurbek.[6]  It is likely that the Malyi Madzhlis will be the top decisionmaking body.

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Table 1. INDEPENDENT NOKCHICHO VILAIYAT (INV) LEADERSHIP

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MALYI MADZHLIS SHURA:

INV Amir – Hussein Vakhaevich Gakaev (Gakin Vakhin Kh’usain)

INV Naib – Tarkhan Gaziev

Amir of the INV’s Eastern Front – Aslanbek Vadalov

Amir of the INV’s Western Front – Abu Anas Muhannad

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Eastern Front – Markhan

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Eastern Front – Muslim (Gakaev)

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Eastern Front – Zaurbek

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Western Front – Zumso

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Western Front – Abu-Muslim

Amir of a Sector of the INV’s Western Front – Abdullah

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SOURCE: “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, http://www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953.

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I have not been able to identify four of the sector amirs mentioned by Gakaev.  Muslim, amir of a sector of the INV Eastern Front, could be Gakaev’s brother Muslim, who was amir of the Southeastern Front under the CE’s NV.  Abu-Muslim may be the amir of the same name of the Achkoi-Martan Sector of the Southwestern Front under the CE’s NV.  This Front’s naib before the split was Hamzat, who appeared in a video next to Umarov when he condemned the splitters (see IIPER, No. 25).  Thus, it appears the CE split not only runs through the NV but through fronts and in this case through the Achkoi-Martan Sector.

UMAROV RESPONDS

Umarov responded with a decree and a statement.  In his decree No. 23 he abolished the CE’s Southwestern and Eastern Fronts, the amirs of which before the succession struggle and split had been Gaziev and Vadalov, respectively.  Gakaev had been Vadalov’s naib on the Eastern Front.  The decree preserved the sectors on both these fronts as “combat sectors of Vilaiyat of Nokchicho” and obliged all the amirs of these sectors to reaffirm their bayats.  We can get some picture of how many NV amirs remain loyal to Umarov by looking at Umarov’s recent videotaped and text statements and a Kavkaz Tsentr reponse to the INV amirs’ statements discussed above.[7]  The video of his statement in which he released the NV dissenters, as noted in IIPER No. 25, Umarov is shown seated next to CE naib Supyan Abduallaev, CE’s NV Southwestern Front naib or possibly now amir Hamzat, and amir Islam heading the Argun Sector of the CE’s NV Southeastern Front.[8] A response to and summary of the INV amirs’ statement posted on the CE’s Kavkaz tsentr website countered the amirs’ claims that all NV amirs were loyal to the INV.  It claimed that some or all of the amirs of the Achkoi-Martan and Sunzha Sectors had reaffirmed their loyalty to Umarov.[9]  For the amirs who CE sources claim remain loyal to Umarov see the Table 2 below.

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Table 2. NV AMIRS REMAINING LOYAL TO CE AMIR UMAROV

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CE naib – Supyan Abdullaev

Southwestern Front Naib or Amir – Hamzat

Southwestern Front’s Urus Martan Sector amir – Abdul Malik

Amirs (some or all) of the Achkhoi-Martan Sector, Southwestern Front

Southeastern Front’s Argun Sector amir – Islam

Amirs (some or all) of the Sunzha Sector

Some amirs of the sectors in Vedeno raion, Eastern Front

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SOURCES: “Prikaz Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman o razzhalovanii amirov, narushivshchikh baiyat,” Hunafa.com, 20 September 2010, 2:14, http://hunafa.com/?p=4161; “Vilaiyat Nokchcho: V gornykh raionakh Chechni idut boi,” Kavkaz tsentr, 25 September 2010, 00:50, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/25/75462.shtml; and “Amiry, otkazavshiesya ot baiyata (prisyagi) Amiru IK Dokku Umarovu, vystupili s zayavleniem,” Kavkaz tsentr, 7 October 2010, 02:46, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/07/75684.shtml.

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It should be noted that if the loyalty of these amirs is fact, then this confirms the deep nature of the split, which appears to reach down to the level of fronts within the CE’s NV.  For example, the Argun Sector, the amir of which is the same Islam who appeared in Umarov’s video in which the CE amir released the four dissenting amirs were from their posts, is on the Southeastern Front, the amir of which was Hussein Gakaev’s brother Muslim.  Abdul Malik is amir of the Urus Martan Sector on the CE NV’s Southwestern Front which was headed by Tarkhan Gaziev and is now likely headed by the Umarov loyalist and Gaziev’s former naib, Hamzat.  Achkoi Martan Sector is also in the Southwestern Front.  Vedeno is located on the Eastern Front which under the CE’s NV was headed by Vadalov before the power struggle and split.  It remains unclear under which front the Sunzha sector is included.  In sum, if the Kavkaz tsentr claims are accurate – the Umarov video is indisputable – then the breakaway INV amirs cannot control nearly all the Chechnya-based amirs, jamaats, sectors, or fronts.

Umarov’s decree also obliged the abolished front’s amirs – Gaziev, Vadalov, and presumably Gakaev as the leader of the breakaway Nokchicho mujahedin – to return all finances to the CE and obliged Muhannad to appear before the CE’s Shariah Court within a month.[10]  Days later, Umarov demonstrated the seriousness of his last order by appointing the acting qadi of the Dagestan Vilaiyat, Ali Abu Mukhammad ad-Dagistani, as the new qadi for the CE’s Shariah Court.[11]

On October 19th mujahedin carried out an attack similar to the September attack on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s residence in Tsentaroi, using several suicide bombers against Chechnya’s parliament building.  Kadyrov and Russian Federation Council Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Troshin attributed the attack to Gakaev’s INV mujahedin.[12]  Kadyrov claimed that Gakaev and the INV in tandem with the London-based, self-exiled former Chechen field commander Akhmed Zakaev were behind the attack.[13] Zakaev was removed from any leadership position among the Chechen and Caucasus mujahedin and from his post as foreign minister of the CE’s predecessor organization, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) when the CE was formed in October 2007.  At that time, Umarov disbanded the ChRI, which had led the Chechen separatist movement turned jihadist movement from 2000-2007 and was the remnants of the quasi-independent republic of the same name during the inter-war years, 1996-1999.

While Gakaev has neither denied or claimed responsibility for the attack, Zakaev denied having any connection to the October 19th attack.[14]  Oddly enough, Zakaev did so despite the fact that just days earlier he had resigned from his position as premier of the ChRI government-in-exile in London and declared his and the exiled government’s subordination to, and recognition of the legitimacy of Gakaev, his INV Shura and madzhlises during wartime.[15]  More oddly, he took these steps on the basis of his stated belief that the breakaway INV amirs “had distanced themselves from the mythical formation under the title ‘emirate’ and intend to return to the legal field of Ichkeria.”[16]  However, as we have noted the breakaway INV amirs stated that they remain loyal to the CE and jihad for the liberation of all Muslims but not to CE amir Umarov.  Regardless, the fact that Zakaev is now openly allied again with those fighting Russia raises questions about the propriety and even the legality of his status as a refugee in Britain.  It is sure to spark more charges against London and perhaps the West in general of double standards in the war against jihadism.

Summing up the situation among the Caucasus mujahedin, it is clear that the split runs deep and seems to have more to do with a power struggle within the movement, various loyalties among amirs, and perhaps competition over resources within the movement.  The CE remains active even as the operational season draws to a close, especially in Dagestan.  If the still unclaimed suicide ambush of the Chechen parliament was undertaken by Gakaev and company, then both groups of mujahedin are engaged in suicide bombing as the October 23rd suicide attack in Khasavyurt, Dagestan makes clear.  This could have implications for the CE’s suicide bombing unit, the infamous Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade, which might conceivably split as well.  The off-season for terrorist operations is usually one for politicking in Chechnya and the Caucasus, and this is likely to be the case writ large this winter.  Intensified jihad is likely to be the other means by which politics is waged.  Umarov’s CE will be competing both in Chechnya and across the CE’s claimed territories, while the INV is likely to remain confined to Chechnya.  Both sides could attempt attacks in Moscow or St. Petersburg as a recent statement by the CE’s Riyadus Salikhin promised.  Therefore, the off-season is unlikely to be very peaceful as both sides contest for the mantle of leading jihadi force within Chechnya and perhaps in the entire Caucasus.

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

NEW NON-PROLIFERATION/TERRORISM STUDIES MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE AND TERRORISM STUDIES CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

The Monterey Institute for International Studies has recently opted to combine its very popular and highly regarded M.A. International Policy Studies degree specializations in Terrorism Studies and Nonproliferation Studies into a combined new M.A. Program in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, a program that will now have an even higher profile and greater institutional autonomy. Apart from combining two of the Institute’s strongest academic programs, this will ensure that students take the introductory courses in both subjects but will also allow them to concentrate primarily on either terrorism or nonproliferation (or, if they prefer, to focus on both subjects equally, e.g., on CBRN terrorism). As you may already know, our students have an exceptionally high success rate getting jobs in these specialized fields.

The Institute is also introducing a new one-semester (or one-year) Certificate in Terrorism Studies for professionals or students who wish to obtain specialized academic training in this subject without spending an entire two years in residence. Prospective students can be admitted into this Certificate Program without meeting the somewhat stringent language requirements that regular students must meet.

If you know of any students or professionals who might find this new program of particular interest, or who wish to obtain outstanding preparation for careers in these fields, or who wish to obtain further specialized training before going on to obtain a doctorate, it would be very much appreciated if let them know about our new program.

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Footnotes

[1] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, http://www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[2] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, http://www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[3] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, http://www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[4] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[5] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, http://www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[6] “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Vilaiyata Nokhchicho,” Daymohk.net, 7 October 2010, 3:22, www.daymohk.net/cgi-bin/orsi3/index.cgi?id=39953;section=1#39953 and “Obrashchenie rukovodstva Chechenskogo soprotivleniya v ChRI,” ChechenPress, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/07/2f.shtml.

[7] “Prikaz Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman o razzhalovanii amirov, narushivshchikh baiyat,” Hunafa.com, 20 September 2010, 2:14, http://hunafa.com/?p=4161; “Vilaiyat Nokchcho: V gornykh raionakh Chechni idut boi,” Kavkaz tsentr, 25 September 2010, 00:50, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/25/75462.shtml; and “Amiry, otkazavshiesya ot baiyata (prisyagi) Amiru IK Dokku Umarovu, vystupili s zayavleniem,” Kavkaz tsentr, 7 October 2010, 02:46, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/07/75684.shtml.

[8] “Prikaz Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman o razzhalovanii amirov, narushivshchikh baiyat,” Hunafa.com, 20 September 2010, 2:14, http://hunafa.com/?p=4161.  The video was also posted on Kavkaz tsentr but without a separate page.  It was still available there as of 24 September 2010

[9] “Amiry, otkazavshiesya ot baiyata (prisyagi) Amiru IK Dokku Umarovu, vystupili s zayavleniem,” Kavkaz tsentr, 7 October 2010, 02:46, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/07/75684.shtml.

[10] “Amir Imarata Kavkaz prinyal reshenie o reorganizatsii struktury VS Vilaiyata Nokchicho,” Kavkaz tsentr, 16 October 2010, 03:02, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/16/75863.shtml.

[11] “Amir Imarata Kavkaz Dokku Abu Usman naznachil verkhovnogo Kadiya Shariatskogo Suda Imarata Kavkaz,” Kavkaz tsentr, 18 October 2010, 13:09, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/18/75903.shtml.

[12] “Aleksandr Torshin: Napadenie boevikov na kompleks pravitel’stvennykh zdanii v Groznom organizovali novyie lidery podpol’ya,” Ekho Moskvy, 19 October 2010, 20:00, http://echo.msk.ru/news/719593-echo.html

[13] “Zakaev oprovergaet prichastnost’ k organizatsii napadeniya na parlament Chechni,” Kavkaz uzel, 20 October 2010, 12:25, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/175753/.

[14] “BBC Russia: Akhmed Zakaev otvergaet svoyu prichastnost’ k aktsii v okkupirovannom rossiiskymi voiskami Groznom-Dzhokare, ChechenPress, 19 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/19/3f.shtml.

[15] “Postanovlenie Kabineta Ministrov ChRI No. A-133,” ChechenPress, 10 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/10/1f.shtml.

[16] “BBC Russia: Akhmed Zakaev otvergaet svoyu prichastnost’ k aktsii v okkupirovannom rossiiskymi voiskami Groznom-Dzhokare, ChechenPress, 19 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/19/3f.shtml and Musa Muradov, “Akhmed Zakaev sdalsya boevikam,” Kommersant, 12 October 2010, http://kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1520658.

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ABOUT IIPER

Islam, Islamism and politics in Eurasia report (IIPER) is a project of the Monterey Terrorism and Research and Education Program (MonTREP) at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS), Monterey, California.  It focuses on all politically-relevant issues involving or bearing on Islam and ethnic Muslim communities in Russia and Eurasia writ large.  All issues of IIPER can be found at http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/ghahn/report.

IIPER is compiled, edited and, unless indicated otherwise, written by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn.  Dr. Hahn is Senior Researcher at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program and Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California.  He is also a Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group and Analyst/Consultant for Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com.  He teaches courses on both politics and terrorism in Russia and Eurasia at MIIS.  Dr. Hahn is the author of two well-received books, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002) as well as numerous articles on Russian, Eurasian and international politics.

IIPER welcomes submissions of 1,500-6,000 words on any aspect of Islamic politics in Eurasia and financial contributions to support the project.  For related inquiries or to request to be included on IIPER’s mailing list, please contact gordon.hahn@miis.edu or gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net.

Research assistance for IIPER is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, and Daria Ushakova.

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Gordon Hahn

Senior Researcher and WMD Terrorism Database Manager

Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP)

460 Pierce Street

Monterey, CA – 93940 USA

Tel: (831) 647-3535 Fax: (831) 647-6522

Email: gordon.hahn@miis.edu

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About Gordon M. Hahn