Monday, September 12, 2005

Beslan: One Year Later

In the wake of the 9/11 anniversary, it is easy to forget that it was just over a year ago that an equally chilling jihadist atrocity took place: the Beslan massacre. On September 1, 2004, Chechen terrorists seized control of a school in the Russian city of Beslan, taking hundreds of children and their families hostage and planting explosives throughout the building. Two days later, the terrorists detonated those munitions. Between the explosions and a failed rescue attempt, 331 people were killed, including 186 children.

The Russian record in Chechnya is worthy of condemnation, and Russian authorities were guilty of monumental incompetence in their handling of the Beslan situation. Make no mistake, however: the blood of Beslan's innocents is solely on the hands of the jihadists. They are the ones who seized a school and took hundreds of civilian hostages. They murdered children and other hostages even before the events of the 3rd. They wired the school with explosives. Finally, they detonated the explosives.

The Beslan atrocity is a window into the chilling depravity of al Qaeda and the rest of the radical Islamist terror network. The Chechen insurgency has been thoroughly integrated into the broader al Qaeda network, as Lorenzo Vidino has documented for Middle East Quarterly. Norm Geras has pointed out that many Islamists now openly justify the killing of children in the service of jihad. Not only have Islamist ideologues sought to legitimize the slaughter at Beslan, al Qaeda has openly celebrated it on jihadist web sites and used it as a recruitment tool.

Sadly, Beslan is just one example among many of the Islamists' campaign of barbarism directed against anyone who stands in the way of their nightmarish totalitarian vision. The jihadists proudly proclaim that they worship death, a faith that is amply borne out by their actions. This is why they must be fought and defeated.


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