SochiI 2014 And The Lost Islamic Bomb Lady
January 21, 2014
With everything on the line, no country hosting a Olympiad can afford to take it easy on security – especially Russia.
With terror threats already made openly and through back channels, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has already been ramped-up as one of the biggest security operations in events history. But there’s a bigger story unfolding here – a tectonic shift in world geopolitics.
Putin Winds Back His Gains of 2013
News reports now place the probable cost of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia at more than $51 billion making them the most expensive-ever. Security costs help explain this. Vladimir Putin’s ironclad determination to make the games a success – makes them a rising political risk, not only for domestic political consumption but also a challenge to Russia’s federal unity and relations with its Asian neighbors, and internationally. Making the Sochi games a PR disaster is the goal of Putin’s enemies.
The Islamic Bomb Lady was officially seen by Russian police. They identified her as 22 year old terrorist Razmena Ibragimova, displayed on Russia’s official Sochi blog sites like the one above. Her terrorist credentials were bolstered by a clumsily falsified side-profile photograph, portraying her bulging neck probably hiding explosives behind her scarf. Officially she was part of the Volgograd bombing conspiracy and Razmena is now the Most Wanted Lady in Russia.
Once Upon a Time There was Pingpong Diplomacy
Cold war-era diplomacy of the 1960s included the “ping-pong diplomacy” US-China phase, but today’s Russia-Saudi Arabia jousting is measured by the number of body parts on the pavement after each designer bomb attack by a throwaway human suicide bomber. To date, Saudi Arabia has scored several direct hits against Putin’s Russia, but the ex-KGB chief is unlikely to take that lying down. Revenge hits against Saudi-backed Arab capitals, and against Riyadh-backed forces active in Syria are either certain or not impossible, to ram home the Putin message that Saudi Arabia is a small country on the edge of “The World Island” that talks a lot too loud – only thanks to oil.
At home in Russia, the Islamic kamikaze bombing scare, which in fact may have been Soviet-era agitprop not needing any Saudi petro-dollars or American nods to be executed, enables Putin to further seal the power of his New State apparatus. The new state is little changed from the old USSR, which set the southern Caucus Republics as the acid test arena for total power by Moscow.
Today, Razmena is placarded on wanted posters all across Sochi. According to one poster on display at all security checkpoints in Sochi’s airport, Ibragimova is “currently located on Sochi territory” and ‘could attempt a suicide bombing’ at any time, according to the poster.
Ramming home the fear message for visitors who will pay at least $500-a-day to be in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, she is described as having been spotted on the street near the Russian foreign ministry building, and in streets near the upmarket hotels of Sochi. Imagine that. Not great in terms of events marketing, but the Russian Bear can ill-afford to be shy this time around.
Stalingrad and the Terror Republic
Under its former name Stalingrad, today’s Volgograd was the Martyr City for Soviet resistance to Nazi Germany, but security analysts estimate that hundreds of the 2000-odd Islamic terror attacks on Russian Federal territory since 1990 have been in or around Volgograd. Veterans of the 1990s-era conflict waged by Moscow against breakaway independence movements state that at the time most of them flew the Islamic flag and were eager to receive Saudi petrodollars. The theater was however already widening across the Caucasian Republics including Chechnya, Ingueshetia, Daghestan, Tatarstan, and in Russian satrape republics such as Azerbaijan, and the 1990s veterans recall that in that period, ruthless terror-versus-terror tactics and strategy became the norm.
These veterans, some of them now Douma parliamentarians say the intensity of conflict has moved up, from that previous terror war level to a much wider “conflict of civilizations”, even a threat to the continued existence of Russia. Tom Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College cited by Stripes .com 15 January said the intensity of conflict.. “ has made the Russians — who already are used to a strong state security apparatus — far more willing to empower its internal security forces way beyond anything Americans would ever allow”.
Saudi terror strategy may be comfortable for its Riyadh purveyors, players and payers safe in Riyadh, when it concerns Mali, Niger, South Sudan, the Central African Republic or Riyadh’s other low-income Black African asymmetric war theaters, but in the Russia Caucuses this is a high risk gambit and historic conflict that Islam always lost. Inside the Russian Federation, longstanding political conflicts are already sufficient to make government difficult. Adding a layer of Saudi-financed and American-tolerated Islamic extremism may create a runaway process of domestic conflict – which for Putin and his oligarchs is exactly what they want to intensify and seal their total power.
For Russian leaders, the calls by some Syrian rebels for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in their homeland sound uncomfortably similar to the goals of Doku Umarov, the Chechen leader of the so-called, ‘Caucasus Emirate’. The stated aim of Umarov’s group, designated by Moscow, and by Washington as a terrorist organization, is to establish an Islamic state on Russian territory. Chechen fighters like Omar Abu al-Chechen, who leads an expatriate jihadist force known as the Faithful Immigrant Brothers in Syria, have sparked Kremlin fears that the real goal of extremists is to make Syria into a base for future terror operations inside Russia.
Chechnya has become ever more critical to Kremlin strategists, the front line theater for Russian-Saudi conflict with Sochi an easy ride from its borders. This theater is particularly acute due to the fact that Syria has thousands of fighters who, according to the Russian Spetznaz special services, are a serious and real threat for the country. Ramzan Kadyrov, the former Chechen rebel placed in charge by Kremlin and an adept at counter-terror war, has on many recent occasions said that Islamist insurgents in Chechnya have reached “plague proportions” and in his view are only biding their time before moving north to Russia – and to Europe.
Syria Split Could Set Russia Alight
State Douma deputy and Foreign relations commission chief Anatoly Ermolin, with a long military track record in Chechnya and the Caucuses during the 1990s bluntly says : “I think this is one of the most dangerous things for any government. They (the Islamists) are very serious and believe they can organize an Islamic state….They consider (Russia) to be their territory. We are dry wood; it’s very easy to set fire to the situation.”
Ermolin is openly alarmed and alarmist because he believes the disastrous conflict in Syria divided Russia and NATO-member countries into two camps, with the US-led west leaning to support or at least tolerance of the Islamists, despite the increasingly frenzied extremist nature of Syria’s opposition. For Russia this means it is next in line for destabilization, by Islam under the guise of, and stoked by Western-Russian rivalry and conflict. Ermolin says there can soon be a major realignment of international relations and vital interests.
Add the Saudi terror chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan (photo, left) into this mix and the fuse is nearly lit. The London Telegraph reported back in October about Saudi Arabia’s under the table offer to Russia for a chance to ‘control the world’s oil market’ in some type of strategic alliance between OPEC and Russia – but only if Russia would wash its hands of the Assad regime in Syria. That was the carrot. The stick was somewhat more barbaric:
Bandar threatened to unleash his Chechen terrorists in order to shutdown, and possibly kill civilians at Sochi. He is alleged to have said:
‘‘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’’
Beyond Saudi Arabia international racketeering and extortion, in there is fear in Germany, France, the UK and Italy – as there is in Russia, of what happens when thousands of young “jihadis” return from the Syrian war. Russian foreign relations experts like Ermolin say this will be the acid test, and in the Middle East will surely and certainly coincide with the equally rising threat of more open and wider conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Shia Iran. The dangers of another Iran-Sunni war like the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war are claimed by Russian policy experts to have been completely underestimated in the west. As they and Russian military analysts say, the potential for a repeat of the 1980-88 war “going nuclear” is high.
Russian experts also say the dangers of Iran itself destabilizing and “turning to terror” have been ignored or underestimated in the west. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel, backed by the US and several EU countries, especially France give either open or covert support to anti-Iranian Sunni terror movements, making all out Iran-versus-Sunni war the logical follow-up. In the case of Iranian defeat, spillover will, the Russians say, be large scale regional, not contained. As a result, although never stated as a driver for US and European thawing towards Iran, the risk of Iran being destabilized have to be taken seriously.
Whistling in the Dark
To date, western understanding of the war theater’s dimensions and component drivers is, Russians say, woeful. The USA’s Boston Bombings, for example, were laughably unprofessional pinpricks. European domestic experience of eradicating Islamist insurgents, they add, is close to zero making for permanent underestimation of the threat.
Reasons for this western blind spot to the insurgent threat, which in Russia now straddles both ethnic religious and nationalist political lines – notably in Tartarstan – can be traced to different Russian and western interpretations of geopolitics. For Russians, even in the 1930s Stalin era, Halford Mackinder’s theory of “The World Island”, centered on Russia but spreading south through the Caucuses to Arabia, North Africa and Europe was taken as a game plan and threat – or prize – for the USSR. Putin’s Russian Federation of today is driven by geopolitical hopes and fears linked to the Mackinder theory.
To be sure, Washington has decided the dispatch of a small anti-terror group of experts to Sochi, more for protecting US athletes and comforting domestic political opinion than aiding Moscow, but soon, analysts and Russian leaders say, Moscow and Washington will have to collaborate better. To do this, they will have to set aside other issues that get in the way. The USA’s new isolationism, however, may also hamper this needed collaboration, and like the Europeans, the US may be tempted to turn Russia’s difficulties to its advantage – by pouring oil and Saudi petro-dollars on the fire.
Senior Russian political figures like Alexander Khinshtein, Vice chairman of the State Douma’s Security and anti-corruption commission, make it plain that formerly contained, localized and specific Islamic terror threats and action have massively changed since the 1990s. Khinshtein says that “Terrorism cannot be a local problem; it is not a problem for just one place.” Russian news releases and investigations concerning the Volgograd bombings already say these attacks – which are part of a longstanding organized campaign – link closely to non-Islamic political independence movements in Russia’s Caucasian republics.
The challenge from the Islamic south, to Russia’s “world island” has now mutated and coalesced with other movements and issues that, in the 1990s, were totally separate. The Sochi theater for terror war and counter-terror war concerns the whole world.
Source: 21st Century Wire