This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Unforgivingly Ruthless -- But Does It Work?

"Yes, they detained my relatives. But they were guilty. Do you understand? Because they were my relatives."
"If I'm a bandit, then they're bandits, too."
Magomed Khambiyev, Chechen rebel defense minister

"There can be short-term results, but I wouldn't call it success."
"You can prevent some episodes of violence at the moment, but you are radicalizing whole communities."
Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, analyst, International Crisis Group
Russian soldiers patrolling a Chechen village in December 2000. Russia found that abductions of militants’ family members were effective in unwinding the rebel leadership in Chechnya. Credit Agence France-Presse
Well, shades of Israeli policies in persuasion. While the Palestinian Authority lionizes the violence perpetrated by Palestinians whom the PA has incited to "resist", by naming squares and streets after the blessed martyrs, Israel responds by informing the families of the bombers that their homes will be destroyed. What could be dearer to anyone's heart than the possession of a home of their own? What could be more catastrophic personally than losing that home, other than the death of a family member deliberately seeking martyrdom?

Oh yes, of course, that deliberate launch of a martyrdom action, in the process taking the lives of as many other people as possible, giving purpose and meaning to jihad, is an honourable pursuit making a hero of the jihadist, so their life lost is no loss, but an honour bestowed upon the family. The family member who has made that sacrifice to bring honour to his family is placed on a devoted pedestal; the state which has lost citizens to unspeakable violence is the criminal for destroying a home.

Does it work to restrain other suicide bombers from embarking on their own honourable mission? (Israel suspended the practise for awhile, then reinstated it with the stabbing intifada.) Perhaps not, but Russia, it appears, seems to believe otherwise. Moscow has engaged in counterterrorism strategies including targeting families of jihadists aimed at smashing the Caucasus Muslim separatist rebellion. Is a separatist rebellion in the same category as that of plotting to destroy a state?

Police in Brussels disclosed that two suicide bombers were brothers; Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui. Not unusual, it seems, with analysts in intelligence concluding that a third of the terrorist participants are related to another attacker. The Chechnya conflict that metastacized into a greater Caucasus regional organized Islamic rebellion saw Russian security services arrest, torture and kill relatives, according to human rights groups.

Abductions of family members produced the ultimate effect of stifling the Chechnya rebel leadership. Russian security services routinely burn or demolish homes of people suspected of being insurgents or terrorists, in Chechnya and Dagestan. In the process, family members are rounded up and held, awaiting release when the militant surrenders himself, or is alternately killed.

During Russia's Chechnya conflict, Vladimir Putin saw to it that relatives of the separatist fighters were used in captivity to lure militants toward capture. If the ruse failed to succeed, the family member simply somehow 'disappeared'. This is what is called incentive to at to prevent such a disappearance. There were roughly 3,000 to 5,000 unresolved disappearances in the five-year conflict.

In 2004, Russian security services detained dozens of members of the extended family of the Chechen rebel defense minister, Magomed Khambiyev. A 19-year-old cousin was infamously abducted from a university he attended, beaten semiconscious and symbolically and brutally shoved out of a car in the home village of the rebel leader. And in the end Mr. Khambiyev responded by surrendering to save the lives of his relatives.

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