Marius Laurinavicius is a senior analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Center in Vilnius, Lithuania. His work deserves special notice. Last month he wrote a piece titled, Putin’s Russia. Do traces of KGB, FSB and GRU lead to [the] Islamic State? Suspicious facts about the Wahhabi (Islamist) revival movement of the Soviet Union are here set down. We are given key insights into the relationship between the Islamic State and the KGB/GRU, including its strategic objectives. Here we find a brainchild of the KGB, modeled on the fake anti-Communist movements of other times and places. As in the 1920s with Operation Trust, the 1970s through the 1990s saw the creation of KGB-controlled anti-Soviet front organizations, from Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
Creating false opposition movements in Russia is an old game. It should be expected that Moscow would create one or more KGB-controlled Islamic fronts. These have proven especially useful to Moscow, especially with regard to the Chechen alibi back in 1999 and in Syria today.
According to Laurinavicius, the Islamic State is part of Moscow’s plan. He quotes at length from a 4 June 2013 Radio Liberty interview with Akhmed Khalidovich Zakayev, a former Chechen prime minister. Here we learn about dead Islamist leaders (Dokka Umarov) returning to life, double agents and complex provocations. We learn about KGB-controlled Islamists showing up in Syria under the flag of the Islamic State. One may ask what this means. Zakayev’s puts Moscow’s strategy into perspective with the following question: “Can you imagine what position the Western leaders, who made the decision to lift the arms embargo for the [Assad] opposition, will be put in?” Suddenly, very bad terrorists appear in Syria, effectively undercutting the West’s opposition to Assad’s Russian-backed regime.
Zakayev’s interviewer, supposing this to be a paranoid conspiracy theory, asked incredulously if Dokka Umarov was really connected with Russia’s special services. Zakayev answered: “We have said so many times. In 2007 Umarov declared war on America, Great Britain and Israel. Before this statement, Dokka was on the radar of Russia’s special services, but was released by some miracle…. Umarov is fully under the command of the Russian special services.”
As Laurinavicius explains in his article, Umarov did not emerge as the apparent leader of ISIS in Syria. But Omar al-Shishani (a.k.a., Tarkhan Batirashvili) was the man of the hour, and al-Shishani’s admits he came to Syria under Umarov’s command. Laurinavicius also clarifies al-Shishani’s background. The man was not a simple Georgian soldier fighting the Russians, but a terrorist agent provocateur who was actually helping the Russians to justify their annexation of Abkhazia. According to al-Shishani/Batirashvili’s Orthodox Christian father, Tarkhan did not go to Syria because of religion. He simply wanted to make money.
Laurinavicius’s previous article, Putin’s Russia. Why it is worth[while] to reconsider links between [the] Kremlin and international terrorism, also provides important information.
Like the moon, Russia has a face that everyone sees and a dark side we cannot see. Today this face is not Communist. It pretends to be conservative, perhaps nationalist and even pro-Christian. Meanwhile, Russia’s dark side is not seen. The country’s ruling principles are denied. They remain dark and hidden from view. We are left to infer them from a few choice facts.
If we want to understand the nuclear blackmail that is now unfolding in Europe, or the political sabotage and terrorism that has been ongoing since the beginning of the century, then we must look to the dark side of Russia. There we will find the answers.