Attrition: Terrorists Get Personal in The Caucasus

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April 16,2008: The Russian Caucasus (Chechnya, Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachayevo-Circassia) has been producing spectacular headlines since Russia got involved with the region three centuries ago. But not a similarly high body count, at least not lately. In 2007, most of the casualties (192 dead, over 700 arrested) there were among the terrorists and gangsters (it's often hard to tell the difference). The most dramatic indicator of success has been the decline in kidnapping in Chechnya. In 2002 there were 544, and that didn't start declining dramatically until 2005 (when there were 323). Last year there were 21.

In 2007, the counter-terror forces took down 17 Caucasus gangs and 28 terrorism leaders. The pressure has forced many of the terror groups to move from Chechnya to adjacent areas, where criminal activity has increased. The terrorists have recognized the main threat to them, and have targeted elite counter-terror teams. Several key counter-terrorism experts have died in the Caucasus recently, and the battle has become very personal. Government officials are spending a lot more on personal security, and more emphasis is now on catching or killing specific terrorist leaders who are behind the assassination campaign.

 


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