Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ukraine's Neo-Nazis Win Senior Government Posts

By Elizabeth Kendal

This post updates the earlier post:
Anti-Semitism rises as Neo-Nazis hijack 'Euromaidan'
By Elizabeth Kendal for Religious Liberty Monitoring, 6 Feb 2014

Neo-Nazis get senior posts in new government

Svoboda -- formerly known as the Social National Party of Ukraine (the symbol of which was the neo-Nazi wolfsangel) -- is an anti-Russian, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi party. In the 2012 elections, Svoboda gained ten percent of the vote and secured 37 parliamentary seats. It also rose to play a prominent, leading role in the Euromaidan protests in Kiev. The Svoboda flag uses the colours of the Ukrainian flag: blue with a yellow three-finger salute.

Established in 2013, the Right Sector is an umbrella organisation bringing together a number of ultra-nationalist paramilitary groups, including the Patriots of Ukraine, Trizub, SNA, UNA-UNSO and White Hammer. Many of these hardline nationalist street fighters have been training for armed revolution in Ukraine for years.

The paramilitary known as Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) dress in uniforms modelled on Hitler's Waffen SS and have been fighting Russia for years, including in Chechnya.


Oleksandr Sych: appointed Deputy Prime Minister. Sych is a member of Svoboda Party.

Andriy Parubiy: appointed Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council. Parubiy founded the Social National Party of Ukraine which went on to become Svoboda.  Parubiy will oversee national security.

Dmytro Yarosh: appointed Deputy Secretary of National Security. Yarosh leads the Right Sector and served as "security commandant" during the Euromaidan protests.

Dmytro Bulatov: appointed Minster for Youth and Sports. Bulatov is reportedly connected to UNA-UNSO.

Tetyana Chernovol: appointed chair of the government's anti-corruption committee. An activist journalist, Chernovol is reportedly connected to UNA-UNSO.

Andriy Mokhnyk: appointed Minister for Ecology. Mokhnyk is the deputy head of Svoboda.

Ihor Shvaika: appointed Minister for Agriculture. Shvaika is a member of Svoboda.

Oleh Makhnitsky: appointed acting prosecutor general. Makhnitsky is a member of Svoboda.

First post-revolution legislative action

The new parliament's first post-revolution legislative action was to repeal the law "On State Language Policy" -- a law passed in 2012 that allowed the use of "regional languages" -- including Russian, Hungarian, Romanian and Tatar -- in courts and certain government functions in areas of the country where such speakers constituted at least 10 percent of the population. Thirteen out of Ukraine's 27 regions, primarily in Eastern Ukraine, subsequently adopted Russian as a second official language, while two western regions introduced Romanian and Hungarian as official languages. The annulment, which left Ukrainian as the only official language of Ukraine, was a direct attack on the cultural and linguistic rights of the Russian-speaking minority.  After the European Parliament protested, demanding the new Ukrainian regime respect the rights of minorities, Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov (a Baptist) vetoed the repeal. The episode sent alarm bells ringing through the ethnic minorities.

Further to this, moves are afoot to overturn a law that forbids "denying or excusing the crimes of fascism".

As noted in the earlier post, some 1.7 million Jews were shot in Ukraine during WWII under supervision of the Nazis. In 2010, Ukraine's then US-backed President Viktor Yushchenko pronounced World War II-era nationalist leader Stepan Bandera a national hero. (Bandera was an ally of Nazi Germany whose followers participated in massacres of Ukrainian Jews.)

On 1 Jan 2014, some 1500 Euromaidan protesters marched in a Svoboda-run torchlight procession in honour of Bandera.

What makes this Reuters photograph (above) so profoundly disturbing is the fact that the Bandera-honouring, Svoboda flag-bearing marchers are not scary skinheads; they are families and priests. [NB:The red and black flag represents an ultra-nationalist paramilitary. ]

Here is another disturbing photograph (right) from the blog: Revolution  A Euromaidan protest with Svoboda flags everywhere and anti-Semitism on open display.

Meanwhile, as if totally blind and brain dead, Western media just brushes this off as scaremongering and propaganda. Some media has even reported that there is no evidence of anti-Semitism rising in Kiev.

"It doesn't help Ukraine to be selective and ignore this problem."
Pers Anders Rudling, extremism expert

Below I have listed some alternative analysis to help counter the Russophobic scaremongering and propaganda being peddled by the EU-US-influenced mainstream media.

In closing -- some food for thought.

Peter Lee writes: "It seems America needs monsters to fight, and if they don't exist, we invent them." (Asia Times online, 4 March)

But, considering that America and Europe do have monsters to fight -- why are they so keen to create a new and different one? Are they looking for a diversion?

Islamic terrorism has multiplied massively since 9/11 (2001). Terror training bases have proliferated -- in Pakistan, Bosnia, Somalia, the Margreb, northern Iraq, eastern Syria just to name a few. Amongst those being trained for jihad and terror are youths with European and American passports. Meanwhile, Europeans are staring down the barrel of Islamisation and intifada. So why are Europe and America so keen to make Russia the enemy?

Russia is not the enemy!
This is all a distraction, a pointless, dangerous distraction.


Ukraine's Mess: Made in the EU
by Peter Martino, 3 March 2014
Gatestone Institute

Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education
By Greg Rose, Global Research, 2 March 2014

How the far-right took top posts in Ukraine's power vacuum
In the new Ukrainian government politicians linked to the far-right have taken posts from deputy prime minister to head of defence.
5 March 2014, Channel 4

Why is the Mainstream Media Ignoring the Rabid Anti-Semitism of the New Ukraine Government?
By Michael Snyder, Global Research, 5 March 2014

Putin's army salutes a Nulandized Kiev
By Peter Lee, Asia Times online, 4 March 2014

Reading Putin's mind over Crimea
By Mikhail A Molchanov, Speaking Freely, Asia Times online, 6 march 2014

$1 Million From Interfaith Group To Aid Ukraine Jews Amid Turmoil

Community on edge as parliament installs interim leader.
By Talia Lavin and Cnaan Liphshiz, 25 Feb 2014


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ukraine: anti-Semitism rises as Neo-Nazis hijack 'Euromaidan'


Situated between Middle and Eastern Europe on the north shore of the Black Sea, Ukraine is a geographically strategic state. But Ukraine is not a monolithic state. The north-west is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking, pro-Europe (largely anti-Russian) and Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic. The south-east is predominantly Russian-speaking, pro-Russia and Russian Orthodox. So while Ukraine might be highly strategic, it is also extremely delicate.

This one map helps explain Ukraine’s protests (below)
By Max Fisher, 9 Dec 2013, Washington Post 

click on map to enlarge

Protests erupted in Kiev on 21 November 2013, after the government of Viktor Yanukovich chose not to sign a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union in preference for closer economic ties with Russia. Initially the protests in Maidan Square -- which quickly came to be known as "Euromaidan" -- were focused primarily on the protesters' desire to be more European and less under the influence of Russia (something they associate with government corruption). When the government introduced anti-protest laws in January the protests turned violent and strongly anti-government, with elements declaring their intention to fight until they achieve regime change in Kiev. [NOTE: the anti-protest laws have since been repealed.]

President Yanukovich does not face a political threat, as his Party of Regions has a comfortable majority in parliament. However, the situation on the streets has turned very ugly indeed, with many warning that Ukraine could be lurching towards civil war. Despite the clear and present danger, Germany and the US have publically thrown their support behind the anti-government protesters.

If external powers continue to fan the flames of revolution, then Ukraine could tear apart with the north-west coming under the protection of Europe, the south-east coming under the protection of Russia, and a massive and bloody war for Crimea.


The mood of the protesters changed in early December when Ukraine's three main opposition parties -- Fatherland, UDAR and Svoboda -- began to take control of Euromaidan.

Formerly known as the Social National Party of Ukraine, Svoboda (Freedom) is a neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic party (official website). According to Svoboda, a nation is a community bound by blood and spirit. Therefore, only those belonging to the traditional Ukrainian [blood] nation may be members. Svoboda supports the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and deems atheists and former Communist party members ineligible for party membership.

President of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee (UJC) and member of the parliament of Ukraine, Oleksandr Feldman warns: "Ever since the breakthrough success of Svoboda in the 2010 elections, leaders of Fatherland and UDAR repeatedly have declined entreaties from myself and many other supporters of democracy in Ukraine to break their electoral alliance with Svoboda, apparently seeing the party and its leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, as essential partners in the coalition to topple President Viktor Yanukovych."

As evident by this photograph, elements of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church also see Svoboda as an essential ally against all things Russian. A "covenant with death" indeed (Isaiah 28:14-22)[1]

According to Feldman, Svoboda is fanning the flames of anti-Semitism in Kiev. He describes a skit that was performed on the main stage at Euromaidan on New Year's Eve. "The lead role," says Feldman, "was played by a Svoboda parliamentarian named Bogdan Benyuk, who donned black garb and sidelocks to play a stereotypical Orthodox Jewish wheeler-dealer character called Zhyd (Kike)."

Feldman explains that Zhyd -- established as a banker, stock broker and loan shark -- represents the stereotypical "Jewish oligarch". He sing, "East and West belong to me; our people are everywhere." According to Feldman the skit drew parallels between the birth of Jesus and contemporary Ukrainian politics, linking Yanukovych with King Herod and establishing the Jews as powerful, greedy, self-interested and treacherous.

The very next day 15,000 opposition members marched in a Svoboda-sponsored torchlight parade "down Central Kiev's Kreshatik Boulevard in commemoration of the 105th anniversary of the birth of World War II-era nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, an ally of Nazi Germany whose followers participated in massacres of Ukrainian Jews. Marchers carried red and black nationalist banners and shouted nationalist slogans as they cheered Tyahnybok and expressed their undying love for Bandera." [NOTE: On 22 January 2010, at a ceremony to mark Ukrainian Unity Day, Ukraine's then US-backed president Viktor Yushchenko controversially pronounced Stepan Bandera a "Hero of Ukraine". (RFE/RL 22 Jan 2010).]

Jewish leaders have been expressing concern since mid December over the prominent role being played by the Svoboda party, noting that Svoboda's leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, supports European integration primarily because he is opposed to being controlled by  "Russian-Jewish mafia". [NOTE: several of Russia's richest oligarchs happen to be Jewish; of these Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky are but two.]

According to the Ukraine Jewish Committee's (UJC's) Director, Eduard Dolinsky, the slogan, "Glory to the nation, death to its enemies," is being popularised once again despite the fact that this slogan was once used by nationalist insurgents known for killing Jews.  Dolinsky believes that while some protesters would have no idea about the background of the slogan, some certainly do, "especially the leaders of the opposition, [they] understand perfectly what it means and where it comes from".

It must not be forgotten that Ukraine has history. In what has become known as a "Holocaust by bullets", some 1.7 million Jews were shot in Ukraine during WWII under supervision of the Nazis. As Deidre Berger, the head of the American Jewish Committee in Berlin told a recent conference in Krakow, Poland, "more Jews were killed by shooting in Ukraine than murdered in Auschwitz in the crematoria."

JANUARY KILLINGS: ANTI-SEMITISM TURNS VIOLENT -- great fear in the Jewish community

On 11 January 2014, an Orthodox Hebrew scholar named Hillel Wertheimer was ambushed and beaten by a mob of protesters that followed him home from the synagogue.

Only days later, on 17 Jan, Dov Baar Glickman was beaten and stabbed by three assailants while walking home from a Shabbat meal.

On 28 Jan, Christians 4 Israel (C4I) issued an urgent call for prayer and support, noting that there is "great fear in the Jewish community". An 84-year old survivor of the Holocaust expressed his fears to Koen Carlier (C4I leader in Ukraine), "This is not going to end well," he said.

FANNING THE FLAMES -- Church beware!

Considering how delicate Ukraine is; and considering the fact that Neo-Nazis have hijacked the protest movement, it is appalling the Germany and the US are prepared to fan the flames of revolution supposedly to advance their own interests.

At this point I would just like to leave readers with some material that I hope will encourage pause for thought.

FROM Stratfor Global Intelligence, Geopolitical Weekly

Perspectives on the Ukrainian Protests
by George Friedman, 28 January 2014


Some protesters wanted Ukraine to have a European orientation rather than a Russian one. Others felt that the government was corrupt and should thus be replaced. These kinds of demonstrations occur in many countries. Sometimes they're successful; sometimes they're not. In most cases, the outcome matters only to the country's citizens or to the citizens of neighboring states. But Ukraine is exceptional because it is enormously important. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has had to pursue a delicate balance between the tenuous promises of a liberal, wealthy and somewhat aloof Europe and the fact that its very existence and independence can be a source of strategic vulnerability for Russia.

. . . Ukraine is central to Russia's defensibility. . . Moreover, Ukraine is home to two critical ports, Odessa and Sevastopol . . .

From the Russian point of view, therefore, tighter Ukrainian-EU integration represented a potentially mortal threat to Russian national security. After the Orange Revolution, which brought a short-lived pro-EU administration to power in the mid-2000s, Russian President Vladimir Putin made clear that he regarded Ukraine as essential to Russian security, alleging that the nongovernmental organizations that were fomenting unrest there were fronts for the U.S. State Department, the CIA and MI6. Whether the charges were true or not, Putin believed the course in which Ukraine was headed would be disastrous for Russia, and so he used economic pressure and state intelligence services to prevent Ukraine from taking that course. . .

Notably, Putin's strategy toward the Russian periphery differs from those of his Soviet and czarist predecessors, who took direct responsibility for the various territories subordinate to them. Putin considers this a flawed strategy. It drained Moscow's resources, even as the government could not hold the territories together.

Putin's strategy toward Ukraine, and indeed most of the former Soviet Union, entails less direct influence. He is not interested in governing Ukraine. He is not even all that interested in its foreign relationships. His goal is to have negative control, to prevent Ukraine from doing the things Russia doesn't want it to do. Ukraine can be sovereign except in matters of fundamental importance to Russia. As far as Russia was concerned, the Ukrainian regime is free to be as liberal and democratic as it wants to be. But even the idea of further EU integration was a clear provocation. It was the actions of the European Union and the Germans -- supporting opponents of Yanukovich openly, apart from interfering in the internal affairs of another country -- that were detrimental to Russian national interests. (emphasis mine)

Ukraine is not quite as strategically significant to Europe as it is to Russia. Europe never wanted to add Ukraine to its ranks; it merely wanted to open the door to the possibility. The European Union is in shambles. Given the horrific economic problems of Southern Europe, the idea of adding a country as weak and disorganized as Ukraine to the bloc is preposterous. The European Union has a cultural imperative among its elite toward expansion, an imperative that led them to include countries such as Cyprus. Cultural imperatives are hard to change, and so an invitation went out with no serious intentions behind it. . .

The Germans are playing a complex game. They understood that Ukrainian membership in the European Union was unlikely to happen anytime soon. They also had important dealings with Russia, with which they had mutual energy and investment interests. It was odd that Berlin would support the demonstrators so publicly. . .

The Russians have remained relatively calm -- and quiet -- throughout Ukraine's protests. They understood that their power in Ukraine rested on more than simply one man or his party, so they allowed the crisis to stew. Given Russia's current strategy in Ukraine, the Russians didn't need to act, at least not publicly. Any government in Ukraine would face the same constraints as Yanukovich: little real hope of EU inclusion, a dependence on Moscow for energy and an integrated economy with Russia. Certainly, the Russians didn't want a confrontation just before Sochi.

The Russians also knew that the more tightly pro-Western forces controlled Kiev, the more fractious Ukraine could become. In general, eastern Ukraine is more oriented toward Russia: Its residents speak Russian, are Russian Orthodox and are loyal to the Moscow Patriarchy. Western Ukraine is oriented more toward Europe; its residents are Catholic or are loyal to the Kiev Patriarchy. These generalities belie a much more complex situation, of course. There are Moscow Orthodox members and Russian speakers in the west and Catholics and Kiev Orthodox in the east. Nevertheless, the tension between the regions is real, and heavy pro-EU pressure could split the country. If that were to happen, the bloc would find itself operating in chaos, but then the European Union did not have the wherewithal to operate meaningfully in Ukraine in the first place. The pro-EU government would encounter conflict and paralysis. For the time being that would suit the Russians, as unlikely as such a scenario might be. (emphasis mine)

Russian behavior in the Snowden affair [not to mention the Syria affair - ed.] has angered Washington and opened the possibility that the United States might be happy to create some problems for Moscow ahead of the Sochi Olympics. The U.S. government may not be supporting nongovernmental organizations as much as its counterparts in Europe are, but it is still involved somewhat. In fact, Washington may even have enjoyed putting Russia on the defensive after having been put on the defensive by Russia in recent months. . .


FROM Spiegel online (Germany)

Foreign Policy Rethink: Germany Weighs Stronger Military Role
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen want Germany to assume a greater role in world affairs, including military missions abroad. Their stance marks a break with Angela Merkel's policy of restraint.
By Ralf Neukirch and Gordon Repinski, Spiegle, 28 Jan 2014

Overseas Role: Germany Must Back Words With Deeds
German politicians have won applause abroad for promising a beefier role in international crisis management in the future. But does Chancellor Merkel support the new line? Berlin's behavior in Syria and Ukraine will prove how serious it is about the rethink.
A Commentary by Christiane Hoffmann, Spiegel, 3 Feb 2014

Excerpt: lead paragraph

When German politicians pledged a more active international role at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, the reaction they got was almost euphoric. President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen appeared to be vying with each other to present their vision of a new Germany to the gathering of security experts and senior politicians. . .


FROM Stratfor Global Intelligence, Geopolitical Weekly

A More Assertive German Foreign Policy
By George Friedman and Marc Lanthemann, 4 February 2014


The Ukrainian crisis is important in itself, but the behavior it has elicited from Germany is perhaps more important. Berlin directly challenged Ukraine's elected president for refusing to tighten relations with the European Union and for mistreating Ukrainians who protested his decision. In challenging President Viktor Yanukovich, Berlin also challenged Russia, a reflection of Germany's recent brazen foreign policy.

Since the end of World War II, Germany has pursued a relatively tame foreign policy. But over the past week, Berlin appeared to have acknowledged the need for a fairly dramatic change. German leaders, including the chancellor, the president, the foreign minister and the defense minister, have called for a new framework that contravenes the restraint Germany has practiced for so long. They want Germany to assume a greater international role by becoming more involved outside its borders politically and militarily. . .

The timing of the announcement, as Ukraine's strategic position between Russia and Europe continues to make headlines, was not coincidental. . .

The European Union is an economic entity, but economics has turned from being the binding element to being a centrifugal force. Either something new must be introduced into the European experiment, or it might come undone.

Berlin believes that holding the European Union together requires adding another dimension that it heretofore has withheld in its dealing with the bloc: military-political relations. Standing up to a weakening Russia will appeal to Central European nations, and taking a more active role overseas would endear Berlin to Paris. . .

Of course, Germany is in no position to take military action. It is in a position to posit the possibility in some vague way, thereby generating political forces that can temporarily hold things together. . .
At first, Germany's actions seemed confusing and uncharacteristic. But they become more sensible when you consider that that Berlin is looking for other tools to hold the European Union together as it re-evaluates Russia.


* Strategically speaking, Russia cannot afford to ever let Ukraine slip out of its sphere of influence.
* In truth, Ukraine will not be joining the EU anytime soon for the EU doesn't actually want another crippled economy in its ranks.

* Is the West backing a Neo-Nazi-led revolutionary movement in Ukraine just to annoy Russia?
* Is Germany backing a Neo-Nazi-led revolutionary movement in Ukraine, fanning the flames of revolution and making an enemy of Russia just so it can rally the EU?[2]

Main points:

* Ukraine is not monolithic -- it is extremely delicate (think Syria).
* If it is torn apart, the resultant conflict and bloodshed will be horrific (think Syria).
* The protests have been thoroughly hijacked by ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi fascist groups (think Syria, except in that case the protests were hijacked by Islamists).
* Not caring about consequences, the US and EU are fanning the flames just to further their own interests (again, think Syria).
* The empowerment of anti-Semitic neo-Nazis will not bode well for the Jewish community or the Church (think Dietrich Bonheoffer).

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Jesus, Matthew 5:9 ESV)

Ukraine Churches Seek Peace and Reconciliation
Slavic Gospel Association: Prayer Alert

Pray for them!

[1] See Turn back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today by Elizabeth Kendal (Deror Books, Dec 2012). Chapter 9: Christian security: not in a 'covenant with death'.
[2] In my book, Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012), I make the case that like the UN, the EU is little more than a modern-day "Tower of Babel" -- a human project designed to forge social cohesion without recourse to God (i.e. social transformation without spiritual transformation). For all its good intentions, despite all the good will in the mix, it is an act of spiritual rebellion that leads to death. Because God loves humanity and wants men and women to live, he will not permit such rebellion to be successful. Such projects will be cursed with confusion. (See Chapter 8: Christian security: not in 'City of Man'.)

Friday, August 30, 2013

SYRIA: journalists in Middle East say Saudis supplied rebels with chemical weapons

The following article corroberates all that was said in the previous post:
SYRIA: Who is deploying chemical weapons?
-- and the tactics of asymmetric warfare.

Religious Liberty Monitoring 28 Aug 2013.

It also joins up some pieces of the puzzle.

EXCLUSIVE: Witnesses Of Gas Attack Say Saudis Supplied Rebels With Chemical Weapons
Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.
By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh | August 29, 2013

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack. . .

Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and the Associated Press. Gavlak, an expert in Middle Eastern Affairs ,has been stationed in Amman, Jordan for the Associated Press for over two decades. He covers the Levant region of the Middle East for AP, National Public Radio and Mint Press News.

Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master's degree in journalism. He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

Gavlak and Ababneh have much to say about Saudi involvement, including Saudi threats to bring terror to Russia's Winter Olympics in Sochi unless Russia drops its support for Assad. Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia reportedly told the Russians: "I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us."

If this is all verified, will it mean that the Saudis have crossed a "red line"?

Or more broadly: will the rebels ever cross a "red-line"?


See also

Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?
Yossef Bodanky, 28 Aug 2013

Syrian Chemical Attack: More Evidence Only Leads to More Questions
Yossef Bodanky, 10 Sept 2013

Whose sarin?
Vol. 35 No. 24 • 19 December 2013
pages 9-12 | 5515 words
Seymour M. Hersh


Elizabeth Kendal is author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Russia: Tatarstan update. The mujahedeen of Tatarstan claim responsibility

by Elizabeth Kendal

As noted in my posting of 25 July 2012 -- Russia: the jihad spreads north. Terror comes to Tatarstan -- "Salafi Islam has been spreading in the oil-rich Volga River province due to an influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's North Caucasus region." On 19 July, Tatarstan's two most senior Islamic clerics -- both ardent opponents of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam -- became the victims of targeted terror attacks. So was this an isolated incident, or is the jihad spreading north, possibly inspired by al Qaeda advances elsewhere?

This article by David Herszenhorn indicates the the jihad is most certainly moving north.

Claim of Responsibility in Russia Attack
Published: August 4, 2012

A guerrilla fighter who identified himself as Muhammad, emir of the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, has claimed responsibility for last month's failed assassination attempt on the life of Tatarstan's chief mufti Ildus Faizov, and the fatal shooting of his deputy, Valiulla Yakupov.

He warned of further violence against Muslim leaders who do not adhere to Shariah (Islamic) Law. “If any of the imams do not want or cannot carry out the points established by Shariah, they should leave their posts,” he said. “That way, you will be protected from the mujahedeen.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Russia: the jihad spreads north. Terror comes to Tatarstan.

By Elizabeth Kendal

On 19 July, the day before the start of Ramadan, two senior Muslim clerics known for their efforts to halt the spread of Salafi Islam in Russia's Tatarstan province, became victims of targeted terror attacks.

Tatarstan's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov (49), only narrowly escaped death. He had unbuckled his seatbelt and was exiting his Toyota Land Cruiser to make a phone call in the capital, Kazan, when three massive bombs attached to his vehicle exploded. Faizov was thrown clear while the car, which was ripped to shreds, was engulfed in flames. The bombing came just half an hour after Faizov's deputy, Valiulla Yakupov (48), was assassinated. Yakupov, who was shot six times on the porch of his apartment block, managed to get to his car where his driver was waiting for him, but died from chest wounds on the way to the hospital. Faizov was hospitalised with injuries mostly to his legs. He was released on 24 July in a stable condition to return to his home, which is now under police guard.

See: Muslim leaders targeted in twin attacks in Russia's Tatarstan (includes video)
Russia Today, 19 July 2012

Since becoming Tatarstan's chief mufti in 2011, Faizov has been cracking down on radical Islamists, dismissing ultraconservative preachers and banning textbooks from Saudi Arabia. He maintains that the main threat comes from followers of Salafism and Wahhabism which are increasingly being preached in some of the mosques in Tatarstan. "The Salafis and Wahhabis constitute a very great danger," he told AFP last year. "There are no moderates among them. They all finish one day by taking up arms."

As for Yakupov, the Kazan Week website recently listed Yakupov as Tatarstan's second most influential Muslim, calling him the "strategist behind Faizov's policy of rooting out religious extremism."

Muslim-majority Tatarstan is home to some exquisite ancient mosques and boasts the world's largest Qur'an. As Daisy Sindelar notes in the Turkish Weekly (20 July), it has long been "a relatively peaceful, prosperous republic with a reputation for cultural diversity and religious tolerance".

See: Tatarstan Attacks Spark Fears That Islamist Threat Is Spreading
By Daisy Sindelar, Friday 20 July 2012

"No one has claimed responsibility for the dual assaults," writes Sindelar, "the first terrorist-style attacks in the republic. . . But the clerics' pro-Kremlin, anti-Wahhabi stance has stirred speculation that they may have been targeted by hard-line Islamists looking to break Moscow's grip on Russia's second-largest religion.

"In a statement, Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee said it was exploring a number of motives behind the attacks, including the work of the Tatarstan Mufti's Office 'to counter the spread of radical religious ideas across the republic's territory'."

Dozens of Muslims have reportedly been questioned and five suspects have been detained in connection with the attacks, which appear to be related to "ideological disagreements" and Faizov's business interests. Faizov has been criticised in local media for allegedly profiting from tours he organised for Muslim pilgrims and for trying to gain control of one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kazan, which receives hefty donations from thousands of believers. (Kuwait Times, 19 July)

Moscow Times reports: "Working together, the Federal Security Service and police arrested the Muslim head of the Vakf parish, 39-year-old Kazan resident Murat Galeyev; 41-year-old Airat Shakirov, a resident of Tatarstan's Vysokogorsky district; Abdunozim Ataboyev, 26, an Uzbek native registered in Kazan; and a 36-year-old Kazan resident whose name was not disclosed.

"The suspected mastermind of the attacks -- the board chairman of the Idel-Hajj company, 57-year-old Rustem Gataullin -- was also detained. A Kazan court is scheduled to decide Monday whether to sanction his arrest. . . Gataullin also has links to radical Wahhabis, Kommersant reported."

Kuwait Times notes that Salafi Islam has been spreading in the oil-rich Volga River province due to an influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's North Caucasus region. Chechen separatist leader, the Islamist Doku Umarov, reportedly issued a religious decree in 2011 calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the Volga River region that includes Tatarstan. According to the Qatar Tribune, Umarov warned that his fighters were on a mission to "free the lands of our brothers" (i.e. to supposedly "liberate" Russian regions with large Muslim populations).

The Qatar Tribune comments: "Around half of Tatarstan’s population is Muslim . . . In Kazan [the capital] few women wear headscarves and a huge mosque stands beside an Orthodox cathedral." (see, Kazan: where Europe meets Asia and The Beauty of Kazan)

Pavel Salin, a political analyst at the Center for Political Assessments in Moscow, down played suggestions that Tatarstan, as a largely peaceful and compliant Russian republic, would be the target of a full-scale Kremlin crackdown. He agreed, however, that the Kazan terror attacks would be a "serious worry" for the Kremlin.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Myth of the "Black Widow"

Reporting from Moscow after the 29 March Moscow train bombings, Tony Halpin described the female suicide bombers, known as Black Widows, as women who martyr themselves to avenge the deaths of their loved ones.

"These women are willing," wrote Halpin, "even eager, to become martyrs, driven by a desire for revenge on Russia after witnessing the deaths of children, husbands or other relatives in the two Chechen wars of the 1990s."

The above description of the "Black Widow" is being parroted in virtually all Western media. Unfortunately, it reveals a shameful ignorance of the phenomenon. Even worse, it is an embarrassing and troubling wholesale adoption of one of the terrorist's primary weapons of asymmetric warfare -- propaganda.

It would be easy but tiresome to dig through the cases, read through the profiles, and disprove the myth. Thankfully, several strategic analysts have already done the footwork and written quite exhaustive reports on the subject.

Terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky has a chapter in his phenomenal book Chechen Jihad (HarperCollins 2007) devoted to "The Black Widows".

Bodansky writes concerning the jihad in Chechnya: "Conventional wisdom holds that this sudden and unprecedented upsurge in female terrorists [through 2003-2004] was the result of the horrific conditions created by the war in Chechnya. Having lost all, or virtually all, of their male relatives to the Russians, the logic went, these women had nothing left to live for; taking revenge against their tormentors was the only salve for their despair. Sympathetic European sociologists and psychologists studying the phenomenon concluded that the Widows were driven by despair born of extreme violence toward either the women or their families, and that their relative isolation left them feeling deprived of any perspective or alternative. According to this argument, the Islamists weren't responsible for motivating these young women into suicide -- only for providing them with an 'opportunity for sacrifice' and revenge."

"Yet," Bodansky continues, "this popular explanation is contradicted by the evidence in several ways."

As Bodansky notes, the first Chechen nationalist rebellion (1994-1996) produced more civilian casualties but no suicide bombers at all. The phenomenon of suicide bombers in Russia, including female suicide bombers, belongs exclusively to the second Chechen war (commencing 1999) which is an Islamic, not a nationalist, struggle.

Bodansky also notes that female suicide bombers defy stereotypes. Some have been poor while others have been middle class. Some have been raped and tortured by Russian soldiers while others have been raped and tortured by mujahedin. Some have been motivated by jihadist ideology while some have been simply depressed young women desperate for a way out.

According to Bodansky, in late 2002 Chechen commander Shamil Basayev commandeered a corps of Arab expert terrorists who had been trained in the Iraq war theatre to develop a training programme for would-be-martyrs in south-eastern Chechnya. In his book, Bodansky provides extensive detail of how networks have been run and how operations have been enacted.

Debra D. Zedalis makes the same observations in her 2004 report for the Strategic Studies Institute. Despite the exasperating political correctness of Zedalis's report -- entitled FEMALE SUICIDE BOMBERS -- it too notes that female suicide bombers (Palestinian and Chechen) defy simplistic definitions for some have been widows while others have never been married, and some were unemployed while others were professionals. She quotes Gregg Zoroya who says that there are "few differences between a man and a woman carrying out such a mission. It may be a surprise, but motivations are the same: they do believe, they are committed, they are patriotic, and this is combined with a religious duty."

Bodansky's profiling of three Chechen female suicide bombers reveals some tragic personal motivations.

(1) On 24 June 2003, Luiza Asmayeba (22) was wounded in a shootout with Russian police before she could detonate her device. Before she died she told the authorities that she had been repeatedly raped and impregnated by Chechen mujahedin and saw martyrdom as her only escape. An autopsy confirmed that Luiza was pregnant.

(2) Zulikhan Yelikhadzhiyeva (according to reports, an educated, cultured, modern girl) and her step brother Zhaga fell in love and ran away together. Zulikhan, however, was subsequently kidnapped by one of her half-brothers, a mujahed, who scolded her, telling her that her actions had brought shame on the family and condemned her to hell. He then convinced her that the only way she could restore the family's honour and secure her place in heaven with all the promised rewards and pleasures, was to become a martyr -- "a shakhida on the path of Allah" (according to a letter she wrote to Zhaga). Zulikhan blew herself up in the Wings concert attack of 5 July 2003.

(3) Zarema Muzhikhoyeva (23) surrendered to Russian police on 9 July 2003 after failing in her attempt to blow herself up in central Moscow. Her husband had been murdered in a business dispute. Her childless brother-in-law then took her daughter from her. After her relatives caught her trying to escape with her daughter, they beat her and said it would be better if she were dead. So Zarema went to meet Shamil Basayev (now deceased), who was at that time the commander of the Chechen mujahedin. He promised her, that if she were to become a martyr, he would give her family enough money to raise her daughter. And so Zarema offered herself as a suicide bomber.

Official sanction

This appalling exploitation of vulnerable, grieving and abused young women is sanctioned at the highest levels of Islam for the sake of mass murder. Zedalis's report for the Strategic Studies Institute provides excellent insight here.

According to Zedalis, Islamic leaders' attitudes have changed over time as women suicide bombers proved their worth as highly strategic tactical weapons. Zedalis notes that in early 2002, after Fatah started using female suicide bombers, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (now deceased), who was at the time the spiritual leader of Hamas, categorically renounced the use of women as suicide bombers for reasons of modesty. However, in January 2004 after the first Hamas female suicide bomber struck, Sheikh Yassin supported the act saying it was a "significant evolution in our fight. The male fighters face many obstacles. Women are like the reserve army -- when there is a necessity, we use them."

Zedalis also notes: "Saudia Arabia originally refused to legitimize female suicide bombings as martyrdom; however, in August 2001, the High Islamic Council in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa encouraging Palestinian women to become suicide bombers."

Also: "Lebanese Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah declared, 'It is true that Islam has not asked women to carry out jihad (holy war), but it permits them to take part if the necessities dictate that women should carry out regular military operations or suicide operations."

Zedalis concludes that: "Terrorist organizations use women as weapons because they provide:
• Tactical advantage: stealthier attack, element of surprise, hesitancy to search women, female stereotype (e.g., nonviolent).
• Increased number of combatants.
• Increased publicity (greater publicity = larger number of recruits).
• Psychological effect." [Embarrassing the enemy as much as shocking the public.]

Zedalis quotes one commander in charge of training future suicide bombers as saying, "The body has become our most potent weapon. When we searched for new ways to resist the security complications facing us, we discovered that our women could be an advantage." And another who boastfully described the Palestinian female suicide bomber as the "Palestinian human precision bomb".

"Finally," writes Zedalis most ominously, "many organizations deliberately are targeting women for strategic purposes because female suicide bombers receive more media attention. Research has shown that 'public perceptions of the level of terrorism in the world appear to be determined not by the level of violence, but rather by the quality of the incidents, the location, and the degree of media coverage.' So the media provides both an advertising and recruitment tool for terrorist groups. Analysts noted that, when the first Palestinian female bombing occurred, the 'news was given great prominence . . . far more than any male suicide bomber would have received. Women who kill or threaten to kill are hot news. It is a reaction that knows no state or religious boundaries.'"

Furthermore, it is quite ridiculous and even sexist to insist that men kill for ideology while women only kill for love. Women kill for a whole lot of reasons, including ideology and reward, especially when the reward involves assurance of salvation with pleasures in heaven, material reward for family on earth, and fame and glory -- for suicide bombers are heroes in Palestinian society. Their faces adorn the streets, while sport grounds, schools and community centres are named in their honour.

(See also: Female Suicide Bombers: Dying for Equality?
Edited by Yoram Schweitzer. Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, August 2006)

Justice demands truth

The propaganda surrounding the Black Widow myth ensures that neither the jihadists nor their ideology are never held accountable. The myth clearly serves its purpose as a means of Islamist propaganda, encouraging us to direct our anger at Israel and Russia, when we should be directing abhorrence, disgust and indignation at the mujahedin who exploit and abuse these vulnerable young women, and the esteemed dictators of Islam who sanction such inhumanity.

"Black Widows" -- or as they should be known: female suicide bombers -- are victims indeed, but not of Israeli or Russian aggression. They are victims of disgusting and inhumane Islamic deception and exploitation. If anything exposes the gulf between Islam and Biblical faith it is this! For the God of the Bible commands: "You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child." (Exodus 22:22 ESV) AND "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27 ESV)

God exhorts his people through his prophet Isaiah to "plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17 ESV), and so we must reject the myth of the Black Widow and hold the dictators of Islam and their minions accountable for their murderous terrorism and for their appalling abuse and exploitation of the vulnerable. Furthermore, it can be guaranteed that when the strategic, tactical and shock value of female suicide bombers wears off, children will be next. Indeed, vulnerable children are already being exploited and "sacrificed" for their propaganda value in both the Palestinian and Chechen theatres.

by Elizabeth Kendal

For background on the Chechen Jihad see:
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB 030) 11 Nov 2009
NORTH CAUCASUS (southern Russia): Church Struggles Amidst Terror