Why is the government in Moscow lying? they ask, certain that the correct number of school siege deaths is closer to 600 than the 335 officially admitted. And in fact around 200 of the more than 1,200 hostages are missing and 90 bodies removed from the ravaged school lie unclaimed in the Vladikavkaz morgue.
Furthermore, there is a growing discrepancy between official statements coming from Moscow and survivors’ testimony. While Russian ministers asserted that some of the 32 hostage-takers were Arab, survivors affirm that they spoke fluent Russian. At any rate, the failure of the Russian authorities to confirm their nationalities has left grieving Beslan parents threatening revenge against Ingoshetia. Military checkpoints have closed the North Ossetia-Ingushe border. The suspicions entertained by the Russian Orthodox North Ossetians that their Muslim neighbors were involved in the slaughter of their children will hardly be allayed by the official announcement by President Vladimir Putin of sweeping changes to Russia’s political system to promote the fight against terrorism.
The terrorists who ravaged the school and community of Beslan came from a direction startling enough to jolt Russian president Vladimir Putin into taking a hard look at the Islamic terror now rampant outside Chechnya – in at least two additional Caucasian republics.
The 32 hostage takers were not Chechens but members of al Qaeda cells, Arabs and natives, known locally as “Wahhabis” (after the austere state religion of Saudi Arabia), from a place whose name is even less recognizable than were the battle arenas of Afghanistan and the Balkans: Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, northwest of North Ossetia.
So, it’s quite possible that the school atrocity didn’t have anything to do with Chechnya at all. Didn’t see that one, I have to admit. It is, however, a warning that there is no integrated solution to the problem posed by Islamic extremists. The USA won’t do anything, of course, as the Bush administration can’t even bother to look up the millions of illegal aliens already here, but I note that European nations have never shown much hesitation to crack down without restraint on those they consider troublesome minorities. Here’s hoping that they merely resort to mass deportations.