Second "Beslan" Reported to Have Been Averted by Russian Security Services
The weekend of January 15-16 was not a calm and peaceful one for people in the Dagestan Republic of the Russian Federation. There was an attempt to commit a new massive act of terror. Makhachkala (the capital of Dagestan) and Caspiisk (a city on the Caspian seashore) were under terrorist attack.
Dagestan borders Chechnya. It has suffered greatly due to the unstable situation in the neighboring Republic. Chechen guerillas have made repeated attempts to invade Dagestan and thus undermine the situation in the Caucuses region. For instance, the second military anti-terrorist campaign (the Second Chechen War) started in the summer of 1999 after Chechen military forces had marched into Dagestan and captured several villages urging villagers to support them or be killed.
Russian security services revealed new plans by Aslan Maskhadov, rebel leader and former president of Chechnya, to commit several acts of terror in the republics bordering Chechnya during the Christmas holidays in Russia. As a result, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) carried out preventive operations once the necessary data on terrorist plans had been obtained.
As was reported, Dagestan police received information that terrorist groups had established and equipped several temporary military bases in the city of Makhachkala. They rented houses and used them as a base to make preparations for acts of terror. One of these houses was near the school and local hospital. Through the use of video cameras, the terrorists were able to observe what was happening in the vicinity of the school and the hospital. The terrorists were heavily armed with guns, explosives and radical Muslim literature. Other bases were equipped to train suicide bombers.
Local and federal police forces planned an operation to capture the terrorists. The terrorists succeeded in taking two hostages. In a heroic effort, the special anti-terrorist squad rescued the hostages; as a result, one officer was killed. After the hostages were freed and the terrorists had refused to surrender and leave the house, the commanders decided to take no further risks and destroyed the house. By this time, the operation had already lasted 14 hours. The Russian military used a tank to destroy the house. The remains of the dead terrorists were found and identified. All of them had been wanted by federal police. One of them, Rasul Makashipov, was a personal interpreter of al Qaeda top terrorist Hattab.
The police also took other terrorist bases in the city. A total of eight terrorists were killed and two were captured alive.
After the operation, Russian experts revealed that the main aim of the terrorists was to take the school and local hospital and at the same time commit several suicide bombing attacks in Moscow, Rostov (the largest city in the south of Russia) and Makhachkala.
As we see, Russian special services learned some lessons from the Beslan tragedy. It helped them avert a new massive act of terror. Yet, nobody knows what terrorists are planning to do next time.