For years the US and its intelligence services have championed the Chechen cause – legitimizing terrorism as righteous resistance. But after news that the two alleged Boston bombers were of Chechen origin, the story took on a new political dimension.
In the last 48 hours, an astounding change has occurred in the lexicon of the mainstream media in the United States, as Chechen Islamists are no longer being referred to as “rebels” and “freedom fighters”. In the wake of the news that Chechens were involved in the Boston bombing (an assertion that has not actually been proven despite the media having already convicted the Tsarnaev brothers), the language immediately shifted. The Associated Press, Reuters, and countless other media and news outlets have published articles discussing the “jihadist threat” from places like Chechnya where “suicide attacks, blood feuds, and hostage crises” are routine.
Though this description of the terrorist element in Chechnya is quite correct, it seems to be directly in conflict with the language used to describe that same group a matter of weeks ago. In late January 2013, the NY Times carried a story from Reuters entitled “Rebels Killed in Chechnya” in which terrorist leaders Khuseyn and Muslim Gakayev were referred to as“two of the most wanted Islamist rebels.” The use of the word“rebels” is a clever propaganda ploy used to legitimize their cause in the minds of readers, portraying a terrorist war as simply a resistance struggle.
This is precisely the same strategy used in almost all Western media coverage of the conflict in Syria, where NATO-backed terrorists are consistently referred to as “rebels”, “activists”, and “revolutionaries.” Going back further, Osama Bin Laden and the mujahideen, which came to be known as Al-Qaeda, were described as “freedom fighters” when fighting the Soviet Union, and then magically transformed into “terrorists” once they turned their ire toward the US. What becomes clear is that the language used by the mainstream media serves the political agenda of US and the Western imperial powers. However, language is only one facet of this issue, as the relationship between the United States and terrorism in Chechnya is much more than mere words.
Despite more than a decade of protestations from Moscow, the United States has long supported the cause of Chechen terrorism under the guise of “freedom fighting”. In an interview with CNBC on Friday April 19th, former New York Mayor and prominent right wing politician Rudolph Giuliani stated, “We’ve been, I’m not going to say sympathetic with them, but we’ve certainly been critical of Putin and how far he’s gone in dealing with Chechnya…I would imagine there are people in Russia who believe that [the US] has been somewhat unrealistic about the Chechens.”
RUSSIAN FEDERATION, GROZNY: A Chechen fighter carrying a machine gun heads for downtown Grosny 17 January,1995, as fierce fighting continue (AFP Photo)
Though Giuliani uses the term“unrealistic”to describe the US establishment’s attitude toward the Chechen terrorist networks, in fact the State Department, along with prominent individuals from both sides of the political establishment, has provided aid, assistance and propaganda for the Chechen cause. Prosecutors in Finland revealed last year that one of the most prominent Chechen extremist websites, Kavkaz Center, was funded directly by the US State Department. The site, universally recognized as the mouthpiece of terrorist leader Doku Umarov’s “Emarat Kavkaz” (Caucasus Emirate), disseminates propaganda that portrays terrorists as“heroes”and Russian victims of terror as“puppets”. It should also be noted that the United Nations has listed Emarat Kavkaz as an organization associated with Al-Qaeda. This should raise serious questions about the nature of the relationship between this organization and the political ruling class in the United States. However, this represents merely one of the ways in which Washington has been a primary force driving the Chechen terror movement – the connections run much deeper.
Despite the fact that organs such as Kavkaz Center operate in the service of terrorists who advocate the destruction of Russia, their activity alone is not altogether significant if seen in a vacuum. Rather, it is the association of these types of individuals and organizations with the US State Department and US intelligence community that makes them particularly insidious. One such entity that bears scrutiny is the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC), previously known as the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. As reported by Right Web at the Institute for Policy Studies,“The ACPC was founded in 1999 by Freedom House, a neoconservative organization that has worked closely with the US government, receiving funds from the National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. democratization initiatives.” This intimate relationship between the ACPC and the US State Department indicates not merely a confluence of interests, but rather a direct relationship wherein the former is an organ of the latter.
The ACPC has taken the lead in championing the cause of separatism and terrorism directed toward Russia, both tacitly and overtly. After having championed the cause of former Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov in his quest for asylum in the United States – subsequently granted along with a generous taxpayer-funded stipend – ACPC member and notorious Russia-hater Zbigniew Brzezinski went so far as to write the foreword to Akhmadov’s book The Chechen Struggle. The alliance between political figures such as Akhmadov and terrorist leaders in the region demonstrates conclusively the partnership between the various terror networks and the imperialist ruling class in the West.
As more information comes out regarding the alleged bombers and their ideological leanings, there will undoubtedly be a propaganda assault to shape this narrative in the interests of the United States and the West. Talking heads will be on television twenty four hours a day explaining to Americans why Chechnya is such a hotbed of terrorism, asking how something like this could happen, etc. The truth is however, Washington has perpetuated the conflict through its propaganda machine that will now be employed to once again turn friend to enemy. Perhaps, instead of being the world’s greatest purveyor of terror, using it as a weapon to achieve geostrategic objectives, the United States should actually work with peaceful nations such as Russia to combat terrorism worldwide.
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com.