Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Window on Eurasia: North Caucasus Militants Using Drugs, Not Religion, to Produce Suicide Bombers, Moscow Paper Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, September 16 – Like the assassins of centuries ago, anti-Russian militants in the North Caucasus today are using drugs to create “zombified” suicide bombers, according to a Moscow newspaper, a charge that will discredit the militants, undermine calls for negotiations with them, and spark new fears about people from that region among Russians at large.
In an article entitled “Robots of Death” in today’s “Trud,” Elena Yuryeva says that “North Caucasian schools for militants have begun to attract drug specialists [from Middle Eastern countries] for the preparation of shahid suicide bombers,” a practice that recalls the original assassins (
Before the militants, who Yuryeva stresses are no longer motivated by ethnic or religious considerations are sent on a suicide mission, they are given drugs by their “bandit” leaders “after which it is impossible to stop or persuade them not to go ahead” and attack their targets even at the cost of their lives.
According to the “Trud” journalist, “suicide bomber schools” in various parts of the North Caucasus have trained 30 such people already, of whom 13 have already been killed, either in the course of attacks in which they lost their lives or because they “have been liquidated by the forces of the special services.”
But that still leaves a large number out there, Yuryeva notes, and “the remaining suicide bombers now can be anywhere in the North Caucasus.” Moreover, she says, “part of them have received an order to go to Moscow or other major Russian cities” and carry out their deadly attacks.
Kaloy Akhilgov, press secretary to Ingushetia President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, told Yuryeva that “we have information that the suicide bombers before setting out on a mission take psychotropic medicines and drugs” and that this process is conducted by “qualified foreign specialists.”
The “Trud” journalist says that experts in the field such as Leonid Gedko of the CIS Narcotics Control Center “have confirmed that in reality it is easiest to transform a person into a ‘living bomb’ with the help of specially selected medical preparations” than it is to rely on religious or ethnic “fanaticism” as was the case earlier.
As Takhir Bazarov, a professor of social psychology at Moscow State University, put it, “the goals which the instructors of the diversion schools pursue consists in the stupefaction of the consciousness of their pupils. This can be achieved with instruction in religious intolerance but with the help of narcotics, this process takes place much faster.”
Drawing on the comments of the expert community, Yuryeva says that such drug-addled suicide bombers typically display one or more of the following characteristics: glassy eyes, dilated pupils, unstable walking, semi-consciousness, and frequent thirst – a list that will undoubtedly lead some to mistakenly identify others in their midst as terrorists.
But Leonid Gedko told “Trud” that “if one speaks about the characteristics of a shahid, then one must remember that he will seek to remain unnoticed even in a crowd. He will try to dress modestly and behave like everyone else. Therefore,” he said, “such people usually do not attract much attention.”
But if “such people” do not attract much attention, articles like the one in “Trud” certainly will, not only providing yet another justification for the view of Vladimir Putin and others in Moscow that the only thing Russia can do with the militants is kill them and for the view of many ordinary Russians that “people of Caucasus nationality” represent a threat.
Given tensions about migrants from that region in major Russian cities, tensions that have prompted populist officials like Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to demand deep cuts in the number of migrants allowed and led to the organization of often violent anti-migrant groups, that attention could lead to even bigger problems than the one Yuryeva has described.

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