March 29th 2010 11:53:20 PM
We don’t yet know the whole story behind the two female suicide bombers who killed 38 people in Moscow and injured scores of others. Although their affiliation is unclear, the working assumption is that the bombers were tied to the Chechen rebel movement in the North Caucasus.
There is, however, something which we do know for sure, and which we paid no attention to despite its clear connection to the kind of terror Moscow witnessed yesterday morning.
There was a little-noted meeting that took place in December 2009, in Tbilisi, the capital of U.S. ally Georgia. That month Georgia hosted a conference of jihadists to plan “operations” against Russia. There was no news coverage of the event, and so it took a paid advertisement in the Washington Times to make it known. Stubbornly, still no news organization or blog picked up on it. And so here we are.
Below are the relevant parts of the paid-for article from last month, titled “The Georgian Imbroglio — And a Choice for the United States.” (Original emphasis preserved.) It was penned by James George Jatras, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer as well as foreign policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee.
Americans must be made aware of Saakashvili’s extending refuge to jihadists responsible for countless acts of terror in southern Russia and his regime’s extraordinary coordination efforts to permit them to step up attacks in the Caucasus region.
Specifically, according to reliable sources [with lines to two foreign intel services], in December 2009 a secret meeting took place in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, with representatives of numerous jihad groups based in various Islamic and European countries for the purpose of coordinating their activities on Russia’s southern flank. The meeting was organized under the auspices of high officials of the Georgian government; while Saakashvili himself was not present, officials of his ministry of internal affairs (allegedly G. Lordkipanidze) and others acted as hosts and coordinators. Georgian Ambassador to Kuwait Mayering-Mikadze purportedly facilitated travel for participants from the Middle East. In addition to “military” operations (i.e., attacks in southern Russia) special attention was given to ideological warfare, for example, the launching of the Russian-language TV station “First Caucasian.”
Are we to believe that U.S. intelligence agencies were unaware of this meeting and other similar actions? The question then is unavoidable: has Washington decided to turn a blind eye — or even worse, to encourage our “ally” Saakashvili to play the “jihad card” against Russia? Could such a thing be possible at a time when the world’s media are filled with reports of jihad attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Israel, Philippines, and other countries — not least the United States (Fort Hood, Fort Dix)? The threat comes from the same ideology that motivated the 9/11 attacks against our country and which seeks to create through violence a worldwide Islamic caliphate governed by Sharia law.
Every day American troops fight jihadists in Afghanistan, where prospects for cooperation between NATO and Russia are increasingly promising. But many in the West prefer to look the other way regarding attacks against Russia, or when an unstable politician masquerading as a Georgian reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson offers his country’s territory as a terrorist base.
We should have learned this lesson a long time ago. During the 1980s, American support for Afghan mujahidin fighting the Soviets seemed to make sense — but it eventually gave us Islamic “scholars” known as Taliban and the al-Qaeda group headed by one of our most adept proteges, Osama bin Laden. The 9/11 Commission Report is replete with references to U.S.-supported jihadist activity in the Balkans in the 1990s, allowing al-Qaeda to emerge from its birthplace in the Hindu Kush and morph into a global force capable of striking the American homeland. Will we now, having learned nothing, repeat the same mistake in the Caucasus — at the cost of scuttling improved ties with the world’s second most powerful country, which faces one and the same enemy we do?
In a brief email interview with Jatras, I asked if he was surprised that such a newsworthy item received virtually no attention. He replied:
“Newsworthy”? Why? We supported jihadists in Bosnia and Kosovo, and it was still the right thing to do, right? This meeting in Tbilisi wouldn’t have been hosted by Saakashvili without our knowledge and at least implicit green light.
The idea is, it’s ok to use jihadists against countries we don’t like. First, the USSR. Then Serbia. Is it ok to use jihad against Russia, if we can? China? Iran? North Korea? In principle, if we can do it, what would the objection be?
As we should have learned, we can’t turn them on and off like a spigot, and the monster we’ve been feeding has a mind of its own. I’d tend to think of supporting jihadists like poison gas or bio war: something you don’t do even when it might seem advantageous.
A March 23rd ad by Jatras appeared in the same space and appealed to the Obama administration to not host Saakashvili when he comes here in April, citing the Georgian president’s latest mischief:
Saakashvili’s newest expression of his provocative and obsessive hostility to Russia unfolded the evening of Saturday, March 13, when Georgia’s Imedi television station broadcast what was designed to look like live coverage of an actual Russian attack on Georgia. The “coverage” included file footage of the August 2008 fighting shown as current and the “report” that Saakashvili himself was missing and may even have been killed. President Obama is shown with a Georgian-language voice-over warning Russia to stop its military action.
Despite official denials, claims that the Saakashvili administration had nothing to do with the “mockumentary” are implausible. Imedi, formerly critical of Saakashvili, was shut down in 2007 and then reopened under strong government influence, if not direct control.
Most pressing for us as Americans, however, is to make sure we are not drawn into Saakashvili’s misadventures. It is now being reported that some officials of the former George W. Bush Administration favored U.S. military action (or at least the threat of it) against Russia in August 2008, risking a direct Washington-Moscow military confrontation that, thankfully, had been avoided during the Cold War. No American interest could possibly have justified such a hazard, nor can any American interest be served by helping to prop up Saakashvili’s sliding standing among his own people.
No matter how much lobbying money he spends — and given the level of U.S. assistance to Georgia, we can perhaps catch a glimpse of our own recycled tax dollars — Saakashvili needs to be told he is not welcome. Having wisely taken the initiative to begin resetting our ties with Russia, a natural American ally against global jihad ideology, President Obama should make it clear to Saakashvili that he’s worn out his welcome in Washington.
To ward off the puzzlingly cynical eye that some cast on those who today try to foster better relations between the U.S. and a post-Soviet Russia, it’s worth summarizing Jatras’s background, which I asked Jatras for. While working at the State Department in the time of Reagan, Jatras was close to a then-famous dissident named Vladimir Bukovsky. He elaborates:
In some ways, we [Bukovsky, Jatras, and their friends] were the heart of the Administration’s anti-communist line and the “fathers” of the National Endowment for Democracy. (As opposed to the prevailing view that communism was forever and we needed permanent detente with the Soviet regime. Looking back from today, it’s hard to believe how ingrained that view was). We never could have imagined that after the fall of communism the US would keep and even step up an anti-Russian line — in the name of “democracy”.
Vladimir has gone in the direction of Kasparov, Kasyanov, Limonov and those guys [State Dept. puppets], and we have not been in contact with him for years. But [my friends and I] (like those working in Ukraine with me) have taken the line that the US needs to take a positive and cooperative line with Russia against the jihadists, starting with no NATO expansion and no “color revolutions”. “Northern Civilization” (North America, Europe, Russia) needs to stick together. Pushing a new cold war (to what purpose?) is destructive and suicidal.
We’ve been working hard here in DC, with whatever support we can find, to try to build good relations between Washington and Moscow. That keeps getting harder as the US imperial line became stronger. We hope a change of course is possible under Obama. It can’t be worse than Bush, but we still have some big problems in this administration too: Biden, Hillary, and especially Richard Holbrooke (whose people are planted in key positions). But now that the US is almost bankrupt and losing two wars, that line — hopefully — has no place to go.
Indeed, most Americans would be shocked to realize that rather than worldwide jihad, our government is still fighting the Cold War. It continues to be our M.O. to use al Qaeda operatives and other jihadists as a stick against rival world powers, most notably Russia. We still believe that “our” jihadists can be controlled, as if they don’t have their own agendas. But the notion is continually contradicted, its counterproductive effects most recently illuminiated when in December India learned that David Headley, “the Chicagoan arrested in October for suspected involvement in the Mumbai terrorist siege and plots against other countries, may have been a double agent for the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Lashkar e-Taibe and US intelligence,” DEBKAfile reported Dec. 18. More:
This suspicion is severely straining relations between New Delhi and Washington. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report New Delhi suspects the CIA knew in advance about the Mumbai attack, in which 177 people died and 500 were injured, and were aware of Headley’s links with its LeT perpetrators, al Qaeda’s operational arm in Pakistan, but omitted to forewarn Indian authorities for fear of touching off a military showdown between India and Pakistan.
Israel was not tipped off either although the Chabad Center of Mumbai, where six people were [tortured and] killed, was a special target.
An official at the Indian Ministry of the Interior confirmed Wednesday, Dec. 16, that his government “is looking into whether Headley worked as a double agent. The feeling in India,” he said, “is that the US has not been transparent.” The atmosphere between the two countries is not helped by the FBI’s refusal to let Indian anti-terror officers question Headley.
More Moscows and Mumbais to come, courtesy of The United States of America.