Sept. 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a phone call to a grief-ridden President Bush. The first foreign head of state we know of to make contact with Bush after the terrorists’ attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Putin, after sending traditional condolences, to everyone’s surprise also expresses his guilt at the incidents that cost thousands of innocent lives and launched a war on terrorism.
Vladimir Putin, the man that may be able to offer Russia a future – wasn’t a politico by practice – his resume is dominated by the role he played as a KGB mastermind. Men like Mohammad Atta succeeded in their task to bring down the Twin Towers using the training methods of KGB cell operations for the relevant background needed in the planning stages in the United States.
While the failing operations of the FBI and CIA regularly make the front covers of U.S. publications, KGB training tactics are now the staging weapon of choice in Islamic fundamentalist terrorist operations. Maybe Putin feels guilty because of the role the Soviet Union played in making the plot to destroy America a possibility during their relationship with the Middle East during their Cold War era operations. There is the possibility KGB files contained not only the names of the men they trained in the ’60s and ’70s, but also their present-day recruits who perpetrated the attacks in September.
Now, Russia works as a U.S. ally in the war in Afghanistan, but the ramifications of KGB activity in the past is being felt internationally by counter-intelligence units trying to unravel the covert operations of al-Qaida terrorist cells.
America may be talking about where to strike next in the world. Saddam Hussein may be prepping for another invasion, but when we leave Afghanistan behind – keeping the war on terror on the move – don’t be surprised to find the Russians will be dominating the region in full force. In fact, in the northern border provinces, Russia is already in control. Russia supported the Northern Alliance.
They agreed to assist America, they’re sharing secrets on smallpox, anthrax, weapons of mass destruction and terrorist cells, but Putin wants his just rewards. Putin needs them – no matter how guilty he feels – because it protects his southern Islamic providences like Chechnya from terrorism, shows some tangible results to his military for supporting the Americans, ensures he can help his allies Iran and India, and empowers him to control the drug trade – among other things.
It’s a worrisome business. If it weren’t enough that holiday gift giving is being challenged by white powder at the post office, the economy has kicked itself in the butt. Thousands of our young men and women’s lives are in jeopardy in the face of maiming mines, hand to hand combat and nuclear warheads. Even Arafat appears to be afraid for the first time of rebellious “terrorists” in his own land – and now German intelligence confirms 70,000 people were trained in the Afghan al-Qaida camps.
The famous garbled Osama bin Laden tape – produced in the style of an MTV real-world documentary – confirms their KGB methods are at work and it also offers the possibility of a growing reference for a twisted appreciation of Islamic fundamentalist violence at this moment.
So where are the 70,000 cell members today? It’s a daunting thought. We’ve only managed to round up or kill a few hundred.
Don’t forget, they are trained in terrorist techniques, bomb making, chemical warfare, KGB type sleeper operations and cell cut-outs. The sleepers were not meant to be frontline soldiers fighting the Northern Alliance, they were visitors trained and then encouraged to travel around the world sowing mayhem in their wake.
Nor do they need to be so sophisticated after Sept. 11. A well-placed phone call from a stolen cell phone can close down the Empire State Building, stop flights leaving an airport or have a school district on full alert. Obviously they have also become masters of disinformation. The governor of California issued a statewide alert and panicked drivers around San Francisco to avoid bridges based on “communications intercepts.” Governor Ridge issued nationwide alerts based on “communication intercepts.” In plain English, Osama bin Laden and his boys play silly buggers with their satellite phones causing millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of economic damage for no cost in danger or in money,
The bottom line: We still know that millions of people around the world hate us and thousands of people can do something about it. The question is, after a successful military campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan: What next? Is it time for their other foot to drop, or ours?
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Camilla Webster is a writer and producer at Fox News, and is included in the “International Who’s Who” in Television News 2001 for her supervision of Campaign 2000 Affiliate coverage at Fox, and international news experience at CBS “60 Minutes,” “The World News Roundup” and CBS Newspath International. She contributes to U.S. and British newspaper publications and holds a masters degree in modern history – including Arab Studies – from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
Michael S. Sanders is well known as an explorer and biblical scholar. Today, Mike serves regularly as an adviser to Middle East experts and commentators. Sanders’ long-term experience as a resident of the Arabian Gulf – and his friendships and business relationships with leaders and influential businessmen in the region – add to an intimate and fresh perspective on the origins and solutions to the ongoing crisis.