Russia’s Metro Bombings

Those behind the bombing in Moscow’s Metro system, which took 39 lives – and shook the building that houses Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) – must be "scraped from the bottom of the sewers" and exposed, said Vladimir Putin. But what if that particular sewer leads all the way back to Washington and London?

Russia has accused Chechen rebels of planning and carrying out the suicide bombings, but that may be just the beginning of understanding who and what is behind a long line of terrorist attacks that started in the 1990s and continues to the present day. Last September, Russian-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov told Reuters he had good reason to believe the US and Britain were covertly aiding the Chechen rebels: "We are fighting U.S. and British special services in the mountains,” said Kadyrov:

"There was a terrorist named Chitigov, he worked for the CIA. He had U.S. citizenship. He was a brigadier general under Khattab. When we destroyed him – I led the operation then – we found an American driving license on him, and his other documents were American."

Rizvan Chitigov, the number three man in the Chechen insurgency, with the title of minister of defense and military intelligence in the insurgent "government," was killed in a joint Russian-Chechen government operation when he returned to his native district of Shali in 2005. He was known as "the American," because he had lived in the US for years; "the Chemist," because he specialized in the procurement and deployment of poisons (ricin, poisonous gases, etc.), and "Marine," because he is said to have been trained at a Marine camp during his American sojourn. As a young man, he was quite the macho, according to an account in Kommersant, tearing around town in a fire engine and scaring the bejesus out of the villagers, who moved quickly out of his way:

"At the beginning of perestroika the young Shali fireman left for the USA with the help of some international Moslem foundation which had opened its representative office in Chechnya. What Rizvan Chitigov was actually doing during these four years abroad is unknown, but on his return to Shali in 1994 he explained to his compatriots that he had graduated from an elite subversive and reconnaissance school and had signed on to the marine squad. He said that a career in the US Navy had been awaiting him but in the strange land he had met a co-religionist Amir Hattab who had explained to the young Chechen that he should be in Chechnya in the hard times for his motherland, not in the US. So the two set off for Chechnya."

Chitigov rose quickly to become the Chechen terrorists’ third-in-command, almost on the same level as the top commanders Shamil Basayev and Ibn Al-Khattab. Indeed, he seemed to have an independent source of funding, and the reach of his battalions stretched all the way to Russia’s urban centers – Moscow, Samara, Voronezh , and Rostov-on-Don – which were targets of suicide bombers dispatched at his command. In 1999, he was personally involved with the kidnapping and execution of four OSCE personnel. In 2001, Russian security services obtained information that Commander Chitigov had procured "weapons of mass destruction," in this case the deadly poison ricin. This was reportedly the main topic at a meeting of the Chechen terrorist network in the United Arab Emirates, and the plan to deploy the deadly poison against Russian soldiers would have come to fruition if the FSB hadn’t discovered the ricin cache hidden in an underground bunker in the Gudermes region. Thus Chitigov acquired his nom de guerre "Chemist."

This ruthless terrorist met his end when, according to Ria Novosti, Russian security services "intercepted a mobile telephone conversation and established where Chitigov could be hiding after spending the winter in Baku. A three-room flat was checked three times, but nobody was found. But when the security service officers were leaving the flat the fourth time, they heard a noise. It turned out that Chitigov had spent over three days in a small niche in a wall masked by tiles. The terrorist was in a hurry to leave the flat and dropped a tiled panel on the floor." Chitigov was killed in the subsequent gunfight.

Chitigov’s links to the US include reports that, according to the Moscow News, "Chitigov had a green card — a permanent residence permit in the U.S." The Russian government openly accused him of being a CIA agent. Aleksandr Zdanovich, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service directorate for cooperation programs, told "Russia Today":

"Rezvan Chitigov, who I have named and whose photo I have shown you from the computer, lived in the USA for a long time. There are very serious grounds for suspecting him to be a CIA agent. He leads one of the most cruel group of terrorists. He is virtually [Ibn Al] Khattab’s security service head. I would say, in this respect, that he was a very well-trained person. Khattab would not have appointed a person to such a post if had not undergone some kind of professional training."

Trained – by whom, and for what?

While the Russians are no angels, and the puppet "government" they’ve set up in the breakaway province is hardly a paragon of liberal democracy, "President" Kadyrov may have a point when he says:

"The West is interested in separating the Caucasus from Russia. The Caucasus is a strategic frontier of Russia. Taking the Caucasus away from Russia will mean taking half of the country away from Russia. Now they are sending groups of foreigners to us. We are fighting U.S. and British special services in the mountains. Putin united Russia, took it out of chaos, removed Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky. He took everything away from them. Did they forgive him? Now a new strike is being delivered against Putin, against Russia. Chechnya and Dagestan are weak, vulnerable links of the Russian state."

America’s new cold war with Russia had its origins in the Bush era: the neoconservatives who then controlled US foreign policy had and still have a grudge against Putin’s Russia. When Putin refused to back the US invasion of Iraq, it was Richard Perle, the "dark prince" of the neocons, who called for their expulsion from the G-8. A list of prominent neocons – along with "liberal" window dressing such as Geraldine Ferraro – as long as your arm are featured as endorsers of the "American Committee for Peace in Chechnya," now the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC), which has taken up the Chechen cause against Russian "imperialism" with characteristically neoconnish alacrity.

In addition, the British government has sheltered Chechen terrorists, refusing to extradite them to Russia on the grounds that the charges of terrorism are "politically motivated." The Chechens have teamed up with exiled Russian oligarchs, who – when not spending their ill-gotten gains buying up London real estate – have been financing a Chechen terrorist "support" network that extends throughout Europe and reaches into the very heart of the former Soviet Union.

The propaganda network supportive of Chechen terrorism enjoys the complicity of the virulently anti-Russian British media. One of their major successes has been the legitimization of the laughable fantasies of Boris Berezovsky and his paid shills, who have created an entire corpus of literature devoted to the idea that virtually all of the terrorist attacks carried out inside Russia by Islamist terrorists were instead the work of the Russian FSB – a mirror image of the 9/11 "truther" thesis that 9/11 was an "inside job."

Over on this side of the pond, the apologists for Chechen terrorism are far from idle. On the web site of the ACPC we are treated to an Al Jazeera interview with three alleged experts –including from the neoconservative Hudson Institute – two of whom hand out the "blame Russia" line – that the problem is not terrorism but the policies of the Putin administration. If Al Qaeda blew up the New York City subway, one wonders if the Hudson Institute and the ACPC would take the same tack. The ACPC claims Putin is not interested in promoting "moderate" Chechen leaders, and is only intent on crushing the insurgency by force. In promoting this point of view, they also post a "Radio Free Europe" (i.e. US government propaganda) piece headlined: "In Wake of Metro Bombings, Putin’s War on Terror is Under Fire."

The "moderate" Chechen terrorists the Russian government is supposed to "reach out" to are nonexistent in the ranks of the Islamists who target civilians and yearn to establish an Islamic "Emirate" in the northern Caucasus. Whatever moderates there were in the separatist ranks have long since been absorbed into the present Chechen government: Kadyrov is himself a former separatist fighter. Yet "Freedom House," Radio Free Europe, and the neoconservatives who want to destroy Russia are not interested in whatever concessions Putin has made to local sensitivities, nor do they care one whit about the economic rebuilding that has been a major part of the Russian counterinsurgency effort. Certainly the exiled Russian oligarchs, who are buying up British newspapers as well as real estate, couldn’t care less about the fate of the Chechen people. What they want is the complete breakup of the Russian "empire," and its economic and political subordination to the West. If they have to make "martyrs" to "human rights" out of Islamist terrorists, well then that’s what the program calls for.

No one is saying the CIA and MI6 are behind the Metro bombings: what is likely, however, is that both have been deeply involved at some point in encouraging the Chechens and even providing them with some material aid. Certainly the anti-Russian rhetoric that was a staple of the Bush era did much to bolster the Chechen cause – and surely the British government’s policy of welcoming Chechen terrorists, and giving the pro-terrorist Chechen "government in exile" sanctuary, ought to focus attention on Britain’s possible involvement in the insurgency. Just as Putin turned over the task of stabilizing the region to local Chechen authorities, and closed his eyes to the brutality of their counterinsurgency campaign, so the West may very well have had a hand in creating a blunt instrument that subsequently veered out of their direct control.

Osama bin Laden, you’ll recall, was once a US ally, whose jihad in Afghanistan threw the Russians out and gave birth to Al-Qaeda. No doubt there are other such dubious "allies" roaming the earth, monsters from the American Id unleashed on an unsuspecting world. The Western connection to the Chechen insurgency is, perhaps, what needs to be "scraped from the bottom of the sewer," as Putin put it, and exposed.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].