Russian intelligence believes the May 13 unrest in Andizhan, far from being a spontaneous expression of discontent, was in fact staged by foreign insurgents, including Chechens. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced at a meeting of the Russian, Chinese and Indian foreign ministers, "We have information that some Islamic extremists, structures of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, remaining Talibs and some Chechen terrorists were involved in the events in Uzbekistan. We are checking this information and want to establish a dialog with those who know something on these issues." The three ministers discussed Uzbekistan; Lavrov added, "We agree that investigation is necessary," noting that as the Uzbek parliament had set up a special commission for this purpose, "We will wait for its conclusions. However, it is also important to investigate how this situation developed, how a group of gunmen intruded on the Uzbek territory, how they seized people, weapons and buildings." Signaling a Kremlin increasingly hard line over the unrest, Lavrov concluded, "We cannot allow the region to be destabilized and terrorist structures to strengthen their foothold in the region or, perhaps, come to power."
Apparently nostalgia for the U.S.S.R. is not limited to the Russian Federation. During an India-Russia bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the trilateral dialogue in New Delhi Thursday Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh thanked "the Soviet Union and other countries" for their support to India in its bid for a U.N. Security Council seat, prompting Lavrov to reply, "Not yet, not yet." apparently it is not yet time for Russia to reassemble the Evil Empire. Both delegation members and journalists were highly amused by the faux pas.
Iraq is not the only battlefield for foreign jihadis. The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan is reporting that a Saudi citizen carried out Wednesday's suicide bombing of a mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Twenty-one people, including Kabul Police Chief Gen. Mohammed Akram, died in the attack. The bomber was identified from his remains. Afghan officials, including the governor of Kandahar, said they believe the suicide bomber was an Arab al-Qaida member after analyzing documents found on the bomber's corpse. The bombing occurred at the end of a ceremony commemorating senior anti-Taliban cleric Mawlavi Abdullah Fayaz, who was killed by two men on a motorbike as he left his office Sunday. The bomber wore a police uniform and helped Akram by pretending to prepare his shoes as the mourners left the mosque before detonating his explosives.
In India, a terrorist organization on the State Department's list of banned outfits has written a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush soliciting his assistance in ending military repression under the guise of combating terrorism in Assam and other northeastern Indian states. The United Liberation Front of Assam has been battling New Delhi for more than 25 years. In the letter ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa wrote, "We sincerely believe that the United States is the only country that can use its influence to bring about a satisfactory solution to the Assam-India conflict and therefore, appeal for Your Excellency's intervention in the matter of resolving the conflict." The ULFA recently offered to hold talks with New Delhi. In April the Bush administration listed the ULFA as a terrorist organization after the State Department in its "2004 Country Reports on Terrorism" added it to its Other Selected Terrorist Organizations list. In a fine semantic shift, groups on the OSTO list are terrorist outfits that do not target the national security of the U.S. or its citizens.
U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.