How to Fight Terrorism the Russian Way
Some are aware of the terrorist bombing in a St. Petersburg, Russia shopping center December 27. The subsequent comment by Russian president Vladimir Putin, that terrorists should be "liquidated on the spot" if they pose "an immediate danger to others," underscores the different attitude with which Russians pursue their "war on terror," at least until Donald Trump took office. Trump has followed through with his promise to "bomb the [s---] out of ISIS," leaving ISIS with only 2 percent of the territory it once held in its so-called "caliphate," and its fighters left in Syria and Iraq number now only about 1,000. Trump effected this set of circumstances by changing "rules of engagement," saving American lives and costing more enemy lives. While American forces can now engage the enemy with greater latitude, not having to wait for approval from Washington bureaucrats, the United States can still learn from the ruthless ways in which Russia conducts war.
A case in point is the September 2004 hostage-taking at a school in Beslan, Republic of South Ossetia, located in the long troubled north Caucasus region. The attack, by 32 armed terrorists linked to separatists in the nearby republic of Chechnya, resulted in the taking of over 1,000 hostages, including family members attending a celebration of the opening day at the primary and secondary school. The attack resulted in the deaths of more than 330 people, mostly children. Following reports of explosions within the explosives-rigged gymnasium, Russian forces responded with heavy machine guns, antitank rockets, and T-72 main battle tanks, as well as flame throwers and small arms.
The Beslan attack was one of many terrorist activities by a Chechen liberation group led by a notorious warlord, Shamil Basayev, that included the takeover of a Moscow theater in 2002 that ended in the deaths of 130 hostages; the 2004 assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Russian president of Chechnya; two suicide bombings on Russian airliners; and countless other acts of terrorism.
Besides the seemingly heavy-handed immediate response to the Beslan school hostage-taking, a number of political changes were made as measures of counterterrorism. Most importantly, regional governors were to no longer be popularly elected, but appointed by the Russian president. Ramzan Kadyrov, the son of the assassinated Akhmad Kadyrov, was appointed president of the Chechen republic in February 2007, a post he still holds. That Kadyrov has ruled Chechnya ruthlessly would be an understatement, but he has popularized himself on social media, posing with kittens small and large, with nearly one million followers on Instagram. Abductions and killings have been routine, even of relatives of known terrorists. At minimum, relatives have their property destroyed or are banned from Chechnya.
In a January 2015 video, Kadyrov describes an anti-terror operation on December 4, 2014 in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in which he delayed the operation for three hours so he could personally lead it, as well as his thoughts on terrorism, the terrorists as individuals, the role of families in watching their children, and what the families can expect if they do not turn in their children as terrorism suspects (beginning at the six-minute mark).
This is to recommend not such tactics in the United States, but a revaluation of current policy. Perhaps debate should commence on the internment and mass deportation of selected Muslims, as had been conducted by France since 2012 and Norway since 2014. Crime in Norway dropped 31 percent in less than a year after deportations began. Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic have restricted immigration so completely that the E.U. has opened legal cases against them, as reported June 12, 2017 by Reuters.
In the United States and most of the rest of Europe, immigration continues, unabated in Europe and slowed by evolving legal requirements in the United States. No action has been taken against the families of terrorists, however, even in the case where the June 26, 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooter's wife admitted to the FBI prior knowledge of the impending attack, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel on December 21, 2017. Noor Salman was not arrested for seven months after the shooting, despite admitting prior knowledge of the planned attack to the FBI the day after the killing of 49 people at the gay nightclub. She does now face charges of aiding a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. Her attorneys argue that her admission should not be admitted as evidence. In Russia, she would already most likely have been convicted and in Chechnya probably killed, as would be members of her family, and their property destroyed. That kind of policy makes would-be terrorists think twice and their families more likely to alert authorities of suspicions regarding their children.
Trump's policies are a good first start in realism in the war against what amounts to a Muslim invasion, with a few violent and the majority passive supporters or enablers in their silence. More thinking and debate appear needed, however.