The U.S. has designated three Chechen groups as terrorists: the Islamic International Brigade, the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said these groups are “responsible for committing numerous acts of terrorism in Russia, including hostage-taking and assassination, that have threatened the safety of U.S. citizens and U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”
The Islamic International Brigade, the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion were all involved in the seizure of over eight-hundred hostages at a Moscow theater in October 2002. As a result of this act of terrorism, one-hundred twenty-nine hostages were killed. It is also believed that these three terrorist groups are affiliated with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basaev, who allegedly received millions of dollars from al-Qaida.
There are clearly terrorist elements among those fighting Russian forces in Chechnya. At the same time, the U.S. does not consider all Chechen fighters to be terrorists. The U.S. calls on the Chechen leaders to renounce terrorism and cut any ties they may have to the terrorist groups.
Ultimately, the conflict in Chechnya cannot be resolved militarily. It is up to the Russian government to pursue a political settlement and establish a process to hold accountable members of the Russian armed forces who have committed human rights violations in Chechnya. Such a settlement will also make it more difficult for terrorist groups to gain a foothold in Chechnya. The U.S. condemns acts of terrorism and other abuses committed by armed Chechen groups.
The U.S. designation blocks only U.S. assets of the Islamic International Brigade, the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion. In addition, the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, and Spain have asked the United Nations sanctions committee to include these groups on its list of terrorist organizations. This is the first time that all five permanent members of the U-N Security Council have joined in submitting names to the sanctions committee.
The U.S.-led coalition is united in its efforts to crush the terrorist threat. As President George W. Bush said, “We are taking apart the terrorist network, piece by piece. We’re taking away their money by freezing their assets and choking off their incomes.” The war against terrorism, said Mr. Bush, will be waged with “determination, and it will be waged until we win.”