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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bringing Ice Cubes to the North Pole

Two weeks ago, the Ingush branch of the Federal Security Service reported that three suicide bombers had entered the republic with the intention of committing a "large-scale terrorist attack." Any report by the FSB should be taken with a grain of salt. But in this case, the republic's new president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who was nominated by Dmitry Medvedev in October to replace President Murad Zyazikov, took the unprecedented step of ordering that the rebels' photos and names be made public.

When Ingushetia is already swarming with armed militants, why would anyone bring suicide bombers in from the outside? That would be like bringing ice cubes to the North Pole. If local insurgents were to detonate 800 kilograms of explosives in the center of the Ingush capital, Nazran, which was the purported plan, then some of their relatives would have surely been among the hundreds of dead and injured. Ingush militants are always happy to shoot a cop now and then, but it would be tough to find one willing to level half of Nazran.

The rebels were very smart. They targeted a residential building under construction. Since people are accustomed to seeing everything under the sun being trucked in to these construction sites, the rebels were able to bring in four barrels filled with 200 kilograms of explosives each, as well as a separate portion of 50 to 100 kilograms.

The targeted building was in an elite region near the home of the republic's new interior minister, Ruslan Meiriyev. Their plan was probably to blow up Meiriyev and to kill Yevkurov as well when he showed up at the scene. Eight hundred kilos is a lot of explosives. In the terrorist act that took the life of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri, about one ton of explosives was used, and the blast left a 10-meter crater.

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The rebels had probably just completed their final preparations on Thursday morning when police approached the building to conduct a search. The rebels panicked and opened fire. In the ensuing shootout, some of the explosives detonated, killing at least 15 special forces agents who had attempted to storm the building (although official reports put the number at four).

Many observers have predicted that it would be difficult for Ingushetia's new president to survive his term in office without being assassinated. Yevkurov's predecessor, Zyazikov, was a gift to the terrorists. Under his rule, the republic's siloviki pretty much shot anybody they wanted, claiming afterward that they were terrorists. This only increased the number of terrorists in Ingushetia.

Under Zyazikov, extortionists liked to approach government officials and say: "We know you've stolen a million dollars. Give us our cut or we'll kill you." Thus, terrorism turned into a deadly criminal business, and the additional cash flow only served to make terrorism more widespread. After all, it is much easier to stage terrorist attacks with the help of money. Any derelict can become a suicide bomber, but it takes cold, hard cash to get your hands on 800 kilos of TNT. For those who dream of establishing a Muslim caliphate and who claim that the infidel leaders are the cause of all the region's problems, Zyazikov was like a gift from Allah.

Yevkurov has yet to take a single kopek from anybody. He has simply demanded that all of his subordinates submit letters of resignation prepared in advance with open dates.

As soon as it became clear that Yevkurov intended to run Ingushetia in a completely different fashion than Zyazikov did, we started seeing suicide bombers and explosives being transported into Ingushetia.

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