by Gordon M. Hahn
In an interview for a new Russian documentary, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that in the early 2000s Russian intelligence intercepted calls between U.S. intelligence operatives in Azerbaijan and the Chechen separatists of the so-called Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya (ChRI), against whom Moscow fought two wars, proving that Washington was aiding the insurgents. He gave no specific details on the times or the nature of the assistance, except to say that the intercepts occurred in the early 2000s and that US intelligence was helping the insurgents with transportation.
Putin said he confronted then-U.S. President George W. Bush on the issue and the latter promised to “kick the ass” of the intel officers involved. In the end, however, Putin said the FSB received a letter from their “American counterparts” who claimed their right to “support all opposition forces in Russia,” including the Islamic separatists in the Caucasus (http://news.yahoo.com/putin-accuses-us-supporting-separatists-russia-121101345.html). It should be noted, as I have detailed in two books, that by the early 2000s the ChRI’s ties to Al Qa`ida and the global jihad were substantial and growing.
As difficult as this may be to believe, there are some patterns that suggest the veracity of Putin’s assertion cannot be excluded.
First, it is consistent with the policy of several U.S. government-tied think tanks and media. For example, the Jamestown Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty apologized and covered up for the jihadization and terrorism of the ChRI during the period identified by Putin, painting it as a national, even democratic, liberation movement. As I have written elsewhere, RFERL’s Liz Fuller featured ChRI Foreign Minister Akhmed Zakaev in numerous interviews and articles, regarded the 2007 declaration of the openly jihadist Caucassus Emirate as a Russian FSB false flag operation, and praised CE amir ‘Abu Usman’ Doku Umarov for ‘restraining’ the ostensibly more hot-headed younger CE mujahedin. She did the latter more than half a year after Umarov was put on both the U.S. and UN list of international terrorists and one month after the January 2011 Domodedova Airport suicide bombing in Moscow for which Umarov claimed responsibility for tha attack and even appeared in a video hugging the suicide bomber farewell as he sent him to Moscow to ultimately kill some 40 and wound some 150 Russians and foreign travelers in the international terminal. For the details on this, see https://gordonhahn.com/2015/02/18/caucasus-jihadism-through-western-eyes-the-failure-of-american-rusology-to-understand-the-north-caucasus-mujahedin/.
The Jamestown Foundation and Glenn Howard pushed the idea that Khattab was a Russian intelligence asset, and Jamestown’s Mairbek Vatchagaev, former ChRI ‘president’ Aslan Maskhadov’s spokesman, continues to apologize for Chechen and North Caucasian in various ways, catching up to reality belatedly withut acknowledging his past errors. For example, he is fond of accusing Europe’s intelligence services, of all entities, of repression when they arrest Chechens working for the Caucasus Emirate, Al Qa`ida, and the Islamic State. The NED’s Miriam Lanskoy long denied the Caucasus Emirate’s global jihadi orientation. RFERL, Anne Applebaum, and others routinely blamed CE terrorist attacks on the Russian FSB, claiming by implication that they were FSB false flag ops. For more on the media, academia, and think tank apologetics regarding the ChRI and its successor organization, the global jihadi Caucasus Emirate, see https://gordonhahn.com/2015/02/18/caucasus-jihadism-through-western-eyes-the-failure-of-american-rusology-to-understand-the-north-caucasus-mujahedin/.
It would be helpful if former U.S. President George Bush were to clarify whether or not Putin and he had the alleged conversation. If he remains silent, we can assume Putin was telling the truth. It is important to remember a maxim difficult for most Americans, Poles, Ukrainians, and Baltic peoples to grasp: Just because the Russians say something, does not mean it is false.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.