“I suspect that law enforcement and intelligence in this country are focused on the risk that Chechen terrorists might try to one-up the Boston Marathon bombing in this country, as a prelude to the Sochi Olympics,” Bolton said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
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Terrorists struck twice in Russia over the weekend, hitting targets in the southern city of Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.
More than 30 people died in separate attacks at a train station and on a trolley bus. Officials suspect Islamic militants from Chechnya were responsible.
Bolton said Americans should bring “situational awareness” of the potential for terrorist attacks to any sporting events that draw large numbers of people, either in the United States or abroad.
He said the Winter Olympics next month are especially vulnerable because events are spread out over a wide area.
“There still will be tens of thousands of spectators all over the area. If you secure one area, if you make the skiing venue safer, it simply means that other targets may end up being softer, more attractive to the terrorists — bus depots, hotels, that kind of thing,” he said.
Bolton explained that the animosity between the factions fighting in Russia “goes back centuries.” Russian extremists would view the Olympics as a “real opportunity to get their message out worldwide,” he said.
“When the entire world’s attention is focused on Sochi, it’s a perfect opportunity for Chechens and other terrorists to use it to attack.”
“Terrorism today knows no boundaries. Its purveyors collaborate with each other over vast distances,” wrote Putin, then the Russian prime minister.
At the time, Putin was writing to defend his country’s action against insurgents in Chechnya and pointed out, nearly two years before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, how Americans could not understand such acts of terror within their own country.
“No government can stand idly by when terrorism strikes. It is the solemn duty of all governments to protect their citizens from danger,” wrote Putin, who had been in the country’s No. 2 spot under President Boris Yeltsin for just three months.
Putin’s piece, “Why We Must Act,” said America understood the need to strike back following bombings at U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
“The same terrorists who were associated with the bombing of America’s embassies have a foothold in the Caucasus,” he wrote. “We know that Shamil Basayev, the so-called Chechen warlord, gets assistance on the ground from an itinerant guerrilla leader with a dossier similar to that of Osama bin Laden. And one of your television networks recently reported that — according to United States intelligence sources — bin Laden himself is helping to finance the guerrillas.
“We also know that most Chechens — whatever their feelings about Russia — are neither fanatics nor willing hosts to the extremists who seek to transform Chechnya into a killing field,” he continued.
“No rational people desire their territory to become a permanent playground for murderers and kidnappers, even if the perpetrators cloak their cause in religion.”
Putin’s 1999 words were in stark contrast to the op-ed he wrote in Thursday’s Times,in which he excoriated Obama’s plan to bomb Syria. In that piece he said such action would be against international law unless it gained approval from the United Nations.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.”
In 1999, he likened the situation in Chechnya to a U.S. state breaking away — even naming Montana and Idaho as two states that could take such action.
“Eventually, they are assisted by foreign adventurers with their own agenda who use that troubled region as a base to launch violent raids against a neighboring state. Lives and property are destroyed — as a means of expanding the chaos.
“Russians do not need to view the latest James Bond movie to see that macabre story unfold,” he said.
“When a society’s core interests are besieged by violent elements, responsible leaders must respond.”
Chechnya, Dagestan, and North Caucasus are places most people have probably never heard of before April’s Boston Marathon bombings. The two brothers suspected of carrying out the attacks—Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—lived in this violent area of Russia before moving to the United States.
Recently CBN News discovered radical Muslims are still fighting for control of the region.
In a small three-bedroom house on the outskirts of town, a secret believer in North Caucasus identified only as “Ramza” and his wife spend a few quiet moments reading the Bible and praying.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he told CBN News, “I’m not a political person, never have been, never want to be. My focus is on loving people.”
He is among a handful of Christians secretly sharing the Gospel in one of Russia’s most dangerous places.
“I’ve been arrested many times,” he said. “I’m constantly watched by the Russian police and radical Islamists, but I will never stop preaching. This is my home.”
For nearly two decades radical Muslims have fought Russian forces almost daily to take over the region for Islam. Their goal is to turn five Russian republics, including Chechnya and Dagestan, into one huge Islamic emirate.
“People of North Caucasus have historically practiced a traditional form of Islam, but that’s changed as more people embrace a radical form of Islam,” Ramza told CBN News.
Boston Marathon Bombers’ Training
The Tsarnaev brothers were born and lived in the North Caucasus before moving to the United States.
In 2012, older brother Tamerlan spent six months in Dagestan. He made regular visits to a local mosque in the capital city. CBN News tried to get an on-camera interview with the Imam, but he refused.
Tamerlan reportedly met two known Islamic terrorists at the mosque, both of whom were later killed in shoot-outs with Russian forces. Investigators have yet to establish if Tamerlan received any training or had links to known jihadist networks operating in the region.
Chechnya was once the epicenter of the Islamist battle. Russia fought two brutal wars against Chechen fighters in the 1990s. They tried to stop them from Islamizing the province.
Alena Muzraeiva was only a year old when the first war started.
“As I grew older I heard the stories from my parents of how horrible it was back then,” she recalled. Tens of thousands were killed. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens were displaced.
“I remember my parents and I crossing the border to a neighboring province once the bombs started falling,” a young Chechen told CBN News. The war left the province in ruins. The capital city, Grozny, was decimated.
Billion-Dollar Overhaul of Grozny
Several years ago Grozny was described as the most destroyed city in the world. This is not the case anymore. The Russian government has been pouring in billions of dollars. In fact, today Chechnya receives the most money out of all 85 provinces.
The evidence is everywhere: streets are rebuilt and walls once riddled with bullet holes are gone. New apartments are going up, while skyscrapers rise to the skies.
“I don’t think anyone could have imagined the changes happening this fast,” a resident of Grozny said.
The Kremlin-imposed leader of Chechnya has ruled with an iron fist, cracking down severely on radical Islamists in the province. “He has managed to keep them under control for now,” one male resident of the city said.
Rising Islamic Anger
But beneath the surface, Chechens too scared to talk on camera, spoke of a rising anger against the ruling authorities.
Jihadists who once fought on the streets of Grozny have now taken the fight to the neighboring province of Dagestan.
In May, a female suicide bomber attacked the central square in the capital, injuring dozens. The bombers are called “black widows” because many are the widows of Islamic radicals killed by security forces. More than a dozen black widows have carried out suicide missions since 2000.
CBN News recently visited Dagestan’s capital city of Makhachkala. Back in 1999, a group of radical Muslims attempted to turn Dagestan into an emirate ruled by Islamic Sharia law. The Russian army stepped in and quickly stamped that out. But since then, this province, which is home to about 2.5 million people, today has some 3,000 mosques and growing.
Sasha, another secret Christian believer, lived next door to two Islamic insurgents killed during a police raid.
CBN News has taken similar precautions to protect his identity. Sasha says he actively shares the Gospel with Muslims in the North Caucasus, but it isn’t easy. He was twice beaten by Muslims.
“I always thought God would protect me as his son, but then I understood that if we have the honor to believe in our Savior then we also have the honor to endure things that he went through in some ways,” Sasha told CBN News from a secret location.
“When we are persecuted and feel physical pressure in our lives then we in reality start to understand and feel how close God is to us,” he said.
The provinces of the North Caucasus are one of the least-evangelized places on earth. The rising Islamic fervor has prevented many Russians from even visiting the region.
But Ramza, Sasha and other believers who work quietly in the shadows claim it’s a risk worth taking to make the name of Christ known.
“Only Jesus can change lives and bring the hope people are looking for,” Ramza declared.
“Only Jesus can change lives and bring the hope people are looking for,” declared Ramza
After meeting with Russian officials, the head of a congressional delegation said “nothing specific” could have been done to prevent the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., led a six-member delegation that met with members of parliament and security officals, Politico reports. Rohrabacher called the meetings productive, adding that cooperation is needed between the two countries to fight future threats.
The Tsarnaev brothers, who are accused of committing the Boston bombings are ethnic Chechens. The violence has spread into Dagestan, and Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, spent six months there last year.
Seagal, who was at the press conference at the U.S. Embassy, tried to get the congressional delegation into Chechnya to meet with Kadyrov, but House rules wouldn’t allow them to fly on his private plane.
Rep. Steven Cohen, D-Iowa, also refused to go because Kadyrov has been accused of torture, kidnapping and murder in his fight against terrorism. Rohrabacher, though, said Putin and Kadyrov should be given a break.
“If you are in the middle of an insurrection with Chechnya, and hundreds of people are being killed and there are terrorist actions taking place and kids are being blown up in schools, yeah, guess what, there are people who overstep the bounds of legality,” he said.
The rule of law is important, he said, but “We shouldn’t be describing people who are under this type of threat, we shouldn’t be describing them as if they are Adolf Hitler or they’re back to the old Communism days.”
MOSCOW — The mayor of the capital of the troubled Russian region of Dagestan has been detained on suspicion of organizing the murder of a senior state investigator, the Investigative Committee said on Saturday.
Car bombs, suicide bombings and murders of officials are common in Dagestan, home to a deadly mixture of Islamist insurgency rooted in two post-Soviet wars against separatist rebels in neighboring Chechnya, and booming organized crime.
Said Amirov, 59, mayor of Makhachkala since 1998, and 10 others were detained in connection with the murder, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement. Amirov was transported to Moscow for further questioning, he said.
Armored personnel carriers and helicopters were used during the arrest of the official, said the Lifenews.ru website which has close ties to law enforcement agencies.
Akin Oyebode, a professor of international law and jurisprudence at the University of Lagos, has criticized President Goodluck Jonathan’s retention of the governors of the three Northern states where a state of emergency was recently declared. Mr. Oyebode’s position differed from the position of several Nigerian lawyers who applauded the president’s decision to retain the governors of the troubled states. For the professor, an outright suspension of the existing state structure should have been effected pending the resolution of the violent crisis in the three states.
Mr. Oyebode stated his views in an interview with SaharaTV last Saturday. He spoke from his office at UNILAG. He flayed the idea of maintaining the democratic structure in conditions of disorder that characterized the three states. He suspected that the idea to retain the governors was perhaps both a response to certain vested interests and an attempt to safeguard President Jonathan’s widely speculated interest in running for a reelection in 2015.
“Though the declaration of state of emergency is a belated one, but it is commendable all the same,” said the academic. “The president knew what was right but just did not want to rock the boat,” he asserted.
Mr. Oyebode cited principles related to the act of war, then contended that all measures should have been adopted to salvage the nation from total collapse. He suggested that the measures should have included suspension of all structures, including democratic ones.
“Now, you want to ask why [President Jonathan] then declared the state of emergency while you retain the governors because a state of emergency means that extra-ordinary measures are warranted in order to save the ship of state from imminent disaster,” he said.
“[Mr. Jonathan] did not follow the declaration to its logical conclusion because one expects that he [should] suspend the democratic norms…put in abeyance the civilian government in those places and declare martial law,” said the professor. He added: “When it was announced that curfew was imposed in the states, the question that came to mind was who imposed it? Is it the governor or
Mr. Oyebode condemned what he tagged “an unholy alliance” between the military and democracy. He noted that the retained governors have no powers over either the police or the Nigerian Army.
Appraising how former President Olusegun Obasanjo handled similar declarations of emergency rule in Plateau and Ekiti States during his tenure, Mr. Oyebode advised President Jonathan to quit his pretense and be real with full emergency declaration.
“I think it amounts to approbating and reprobating at the same time. You can’t blow hot and cold,” he said. He added: “What he has done is merely deploying more troops. So, more of the same; what is new? We’ve always had the Joint Task Force to contain
the Boko Haram issue. So, declaring a state of emergency without suspending an ineffectual democratic structure amounts to going round in circles.”
Reacting to lawyers’ widely publicized commendation of President Jonathan’s decision to retain the governors, Mr. Oyebode
said he understood the lawyers’ sentiments and concern for the protection of the legal framework. Even so, he insisted that the circumstances of Nigeria required a radical approach, especially as the nation’s security has been almost totally compromised. He argued that crass-legalism should not be an impediment to efforts directed at keeping Nigeria one.
The professor contrasted international conventions with provisions of the constitution on human rights. He stated that international laws occasionally allow for human rights limitations and democratic suspensions when the nation is in ‘jeopardy.’ “There was a time in England when military emergency arose with Oliver Cromwell in the seventeenth century. Then you had Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland – there was virtual suspension of the democratic rule in Northern Ireland.” He also cited examples from Sri Lanka and Chechnya where Islamic fundamentalism was confronted with stern state action. “It is only in Nigeria that you can find this rigmarole,” he said.
Mr. Oyebode noted that the business of the day should be to conquer the insurrectionists and save Nigeria from going under rather than worshipping due process and crass-legalism, which he described as “mere letters of the law.” According to him, it was only once the country is saved that the constitution could continue to be operational. He buttressed his argument with the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970.
“Like President Truman said, if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. So, since [Jonathan’s] the president, he should do the needful,” said the UNILAG professor, adding that the economic outlook in the North had suffered due to investors’ fear of insecurity.
“A British Prime Minister once said that he would not preside over the liquidation of Her Majesty’s empire. The same thing goes for anybody who is the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. He should do the right thing and save the nation from collapse,” Mr. Oyebode added.
An FBI agent shot and killed a man early Wednesday morning who was being questioned as part of the Boston bombings and a 2011 triple murder near Boston.
Officials said the special agent was conducting official duties when 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev turned violent, several news sources reported.
While Todashev probably was not involved in the Boston Marathon bombings, he allegedly confessed to a part in an unsolved 2011 triple slaying near Boston, according to NBC News.
Khusen Taramov, who identified himself as a friend of the victim to WOFL Fox 35 in Orlando, said Todashev knew Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old man suspected, along with his younger brother, in the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 260. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with law enforcement while trying to escape with his brother.
Todashev had been questioned on Tuesday by the FBI because he had visited Tsarnaev in Boston before the bombings, Taramov said. He also was planning a trip back to Chechnya.
Todashev knew Tsarnaev through the Mixed Martial Arts scene in Boston, according to authorities.
CBS News correspondent John Miller, a former FBI assistant director, says the victim was “someone [the agency was] looking at in connection with Tamerlan, based on contacts they had.”
The shooting happened at Todashev’s apartment in Orlando, near Universal Studios. In a statement released Wednesday morning, the FBI confirmed it is investigating the shooting.
“The agent, along with other law enforcement personnel, were interviewing an individual in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing investigation when a violent confrontation was initiated by the subject. During the confrontation, the individual was killed and the agent sustained non-life threatening injuries.”
NBC News says the FBI was interested in Todashev’s ties to Tsarnaev and other extremists.
The FBI was also interested in whether Todashev was involved in a grisly 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Mass., where the victims’ throats were cut and their bodies strewn with marijuana. No suspects have been arrested.
NBC says that Todashev allegedly confessed to being a part of the 2011 crime, but became violent and attacked an agent with a knife when he was about to sign a confession.
Khusen Taramov told Fox he and his friend had no connection with the Boston bombings, but the FBI had been questioning them since it happened.
“He used to talk on the phone with [Tsarnaev],” Taramov said of his friend. “They talked last time a month ago. After the bombing, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“The FBI kept asking, ‘What’s the connection?’ But there is no connection … no connection.”
Taramov said the Orlando victim had planned to return to Chechnya, but canceled his tickets.
“Me and him and my friends, we knew this was going to happen. That’s why he wanted to leave the country,” Taramov said. “But he canceled the tickets. The FBI’s been pushing him, ‘Don’t leave, don’t leave.’ So he decided to stay.”
The FBI had questioned Taramov earlier Tuesday but he was allowed to leave, Taramov said. When he returned, he found out his friend had been shot dead, he said.