Russian investigation reveals at least 5 Arabs at Beslan

Monday, October 18, 2004

MOSCOW Russia has concluded that at least five Arab nationals participated in the bloody takeover of a high school in August.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said an investigation determined that five Arab nationals participated in the Beslan attack by Al Qaida-aligned insurgents. Ivanov, in an address to the NATO-Russia Council in Romania on Oct. 14, would not identify the Arab nationals or their native countries.

In September, Russian officials said that at least 10 of the 32 attackers in Beslan were Arab nationals. The Arabs were identified as coming from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Ivanov told the meeting that the Chechen revolt contained a large number of Arab and other foreign nationalities, Middle East Newsline reported. He said up to 200 foreigners were fighting Russian troops in Chechnya.

The defense minister said the attack on the high school in North Ossetia, in which nearly 400 people were killed, was directed from abroad.

He said Islamic insurgents in Chechnya received significant support from a range of people and institutions.

Ivanov said despite Moscow's efforts, much of the international community has refused to stop the flow of financing and insurgents to Chechnya. He cited the decision by Britain and the United States to grant political asylum to senior officials in the government of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.

"We must honestly admit that we have not yet been able to achieve a very high level of coordination in the battle against international terrorism," Ivanov said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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