I wrote this in this morning’s FP article:
Maskhadov was a mastermind of the Beslan school massacre, in which Chechen jihadists held over a thousand schoolchildren and adults hostage for several days, murdering many and engaging in wanton acts of brutality. When one hostage-taker asked Maskhadov and Chechen jihad leader Shamil Basayev why they were doing this, he was told: “Because we need to start a war across the Caucasus.”
Jihad Watch reader JVC has alerted me to this statement by an Islamic apologist at TechCentralStation:
Maskhadov, whose first name, Aslan, means “lion,” was a genuine moderate, who sought peace and compromise with the Russians. All objective observers, including the journalists of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, agree that Maskhadov was the only influential Chechen who truly believed that peace was equally in the interest of Slavs and Chechens, Christians and Muslims and Jews….The Russians could kill Dudayev, Yandarbiyev, and Maskhadov but somehow Basayev, a genuine terrorist, remains untouched.
Was Maskhadov really that different from Basayev? JVC has kindly sent along some links, which correspond to my own research on this. From AP, September 3, 2004:
Although most Chechens are Muslim, Aslan Maskhadov, who became president of Chechnya after Russian forces withdrew in 1996, was seen as relatively secular. However, he came under increasing pressure from radical Islamic factions led by warlord Shamil Basayev and eventually declared Sharia law, or Islamic law, an idea that has less support among the public at large than it does among the rebels.
From CNN, September 6, 2004:
Appearing on Russian state television, the unidentified man said the attack was ordered by Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov and Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.
Can’t trust Russian state television, right? Sure. But Basayev did seem to count Maskhadov as an ally. Here is a statement from Basayev from a jihadist website:
Today the Kafirs are showing their weakness by announcing many million rubles of rewards for our leaders and by trying to use their dirty and cunning methods of propaganda and play down the role of President of CRI Maskhadov, and by promising a reward dozens of times lower than they have announced for catching me. But these ‘pig shows’ of the ones like Kafir-ov (i.e. Kadyrov, head of puppet administration in Chechnya) and other scumbags like him are not new to us.
We are all walking under God. And sooner or later we will all die. A death of one of us will change nothing. Because we are seeking a death of a martyr on the way of Allah, while Kafirs (infidels) and Munafiks (national traitors) are trying to extend their good-for-nothing lives. The Jihad will be continuing. Our entire history is the evidence.
There was a time when the Kafirs were hoping that by killing the first President of CRI J. Dudayev they would be able to have something changed. But after President Dudayev became a Shaheed (a martyr), the Jihad only increased and the Mujahideen (fighters) got even stronger. Nothing will change if President Maskhadov, myself or any other leader becomes a Shaheed.
Thank God (Alhamdulillah!), we are not afraid of death and we are not trying to escape it. But if Kafirs want me to die so bad, I can make them an offer: let them give me some more money, about 10-20 million more, and I will give that money to Maskhadov to continue the Jihad, and I myself will buy me a good KAMAZ truck and will drive right up to them.
UPDATE: I just got an email from someone claiming to be a “Russian, but objective.” It asserted that Basayev was a KGB agent. But if Basayev is KGB, and Maskhadov was his opponent, why does Basayev speak here as if Maskhadov was on his side?