When Rebels Need Cash, a Relative Vanishes

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Terrorist leaders in the North Caucuses have received a new infusion of money, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev announced last week in Nalchik. It was a kind of international tranche and "money from kidnappings," Yedelev said.

Honestly, it would have been better if Yedelev had kept his mouth shut.

When al-Qaida's emissary to Russian insurgents, Abu Khavs, was killed in Dagestan in November 2006, records of the insurgents' accounts were found with his body. The Federal Security Service said Khavs received $340,000 in foreign contributions and $5 million "for a high-ranking hostage who was released in May."

The only "high-ranking hostage" released in May 2006 was Magomed Chakhkiyev, father-in-law of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov.

The terrorists had a heyday with that $5 million. They blew up Ingushetia's deputy interior minister, Dzhabrail Kostoyev. They shot the acting head of Ingushetia's riot police, Musa Nalgiyev, with his young children. They bought two KamAZ trucks carrying guided-missile systems. And here Russia got lucky: The missiles blew up during handling, killing insurgent leader Shamil Basayev and a few of his top commanders. The blast occurred in Ekazhevo, two kilometers from Nazran, and burned until morning. Insurgents attempted without success to retrieve Basayev's corpse, finally leaving in the morning.

Don't misunderstand me: Unlike Yedelev, I am not suggesting that the insurgents are fighting for the sake of money. The best thugs in Russia now earn more than the terrorists do. But money is the lifeblood of war. You don't need money to become a suicide bomber, but nobody is handing out free landmines to blow up state officials.

The accounts found with Khavs' body indicate that the money for the 2006 terror campaign came from Ingushetia. And Yedelev again informed us that the insurgents received funds "from kidnappings."

Excuse me, but who was kidnapped that year? Again, it was a person from Ingushetia -- Uruskhan Zyazikov, the uncle of President Zyazikov and the father of the president's personal guard. He was abducted in March and freed in October 2007.

How much did Zyazikov's abductors receive for freeing him? In Ingushetia, they say the figure was $7.5 million. After the kidnappers received the money, terrorist acts became more frequent in Ingushetia, and from there the flare-up spread to Chechnya. And insurgents stepped up their activity this spring, in comparison to the same period last year. On March 19, insurgents under the leadership of Tarkhan Gaziyev entered the foothills of Alkhazurov, encountered stiff resistance and then retreated. The insurgents killed six men and lost eight. In April, bands of 15 to 20 insurgents appeared in Roshni-Chu, Yandin-Kotar, Shalazhi and Komsomolsk. As a rule, they chose small villages in the foothills -- although a "small" Chechen village has about 5,000 inhabitants. With only one exception, the insurgents "warned" the local police without killing them.

I repeat: I don't think that insurgents who fight in the Caucasus Mountains are fighting for the money. But the leaflets in which insurgent leader Doka Umarov calls on police to leave their posts and the police uniforms purchased to erect false roadblocks cannot be obtained without funds.

Russia reestablished control over Chechnya thanks to the extremely cruel but effective methods of the republic's Kremlin-installed president, Ramzan Kadyrov. Amazingly though, it is losing control over the Caucasus because of the ineffectiveness of regional leaders -- primarily Zyazikov, who cannot even stop the insurgents from kidnapping his relatives.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.