What's Behind Russia's Killing Spree?

He said that Zawahiri was trained by the FSB in Dagestan for six months, after which he linked up with bin Laden’s forces in Afghanistan. Another former KGB agent, Col. Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy, says that Litvinenko was in charge of making sure Zawahiri’s visit was kept secret. The Russian FSB admits that they arrested Zawahiri and held him from December 1996 to May 1997. Litvinenko said that the training occurred in 1998, an error that can be attributed either to misspeaking or an inability to stick to one story. A fair analyst must note that Litvinenko could have constructed his story based on press accounts, assuming based on his experience that there was more to the arrest of Zawahiri by the Russians. At the same time, there are some anomalies in the conventional story.

J.R. Nyquist has made some interesting observations about Zawahiri’s detainment by the Russians, as detailed in a Wall Street Journal article. The story is that Zawahiri was held and given back all his belongings once released. The Russians, supposedly unaware of who he was, didn’t even go through his computer, a story that is hard to believe considering the nature of the Russian security services. At this time, Zawahiri was making contact with the Russians’ Chechen enemies and supporting terrorists in Bosnia. Either Russian intelligence was astoundingly incompetent and somehow didn’t know who he was -- and didn’t look at his computer and find out -- or they did know, supporting Litvinenko’s account.

Nyquist further notes that Zawahiri intentionally went to Dagestan, which was known to be controlled by the Russians, as opposed to Chechnya. After he was released, Zawahiri lied about going to Russia to his terrorist colleagues. The authors of the Journal article “admit that Zawahiri lied about his Russian adventure. He made up a story about being kidnapped by a criminal gang. Then Zawahiri ‘developed an ulcer,’” Nyquist notes.

Litvinenko said that his information came from top intelligence officials from Dagestan “who had directly worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri … [who] were called to Moscow and received high posts.”

Without more information, it’s difficult to know what this all means. Litvinenko could be lying or Zawahiri could have struck some sort of deal with the Russians, perhaps acting as an “agent of influence” or informant, although not necessarily under their control. It doesn’t mean Russia engineered 9/11 or directs Zawahiri’s actions, but if true, certainly means Russia is an expert chess player, willing to establish ties with those who are their enemies on the surface. Looking at Russia’s backing of Iran, this shouldn’t be surprising.

The international attention on Litvinenko’s assassination didn’t stop the Russians. Another high-ranking KGB defector named Oleg Gordievsky reported being poisoned on November 2, 2007, causing injuries which leave him partially paralyzed to this day. Although no link to the Russians has been found, the unsolved murder of Paul Joyal, a former security chief for the Senate Intelligence Committee, occurred shortly after he publicly accused Russia of killing Litvinenko.

The murder of Natalia Estemirova is an unfortunate reminder of the nature of the Russian government. Russia is allying with virtually every anti-American country on the planet and assassinating its critics. If Russia’s foreign and domestic policy is the same as that of the Soviet Union, then Russia should be treated as the Soviet Union.