David Satter at National Review asks whether Donald Trump is preparing to partner with a terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. The suspected terrorist? Vladimir Putin:
As President Trump apparently prepares for a U.S.–Russian partnership against terror, it is critical that the CIA reveal what it knows about the September 1999 Russian apartment bombings that propelled Vladimir Putin to power.
. . . .
I was in Moscow when the buildings were blown up killing 300 persons and I was immediately suspicious of the explosions. They were too convenient for Yeltsin and his corrupt entourage. Moscow had also been awash with rumors that a massive provocation was coming. But I became convinced that the bombings were a false-flag attack when a fifth, unexploded bomb was discovered September 22 in the basement of a building in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, and local police arrested three persons who turned out to be not Chechens but agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB).
. . . .
The 1999 bombings, 18 years after they occurred, however, are not a peripheral issue. They pose the question of whether Putin is a terrorist. This is a question that the U.S. is in no position to ignore, particularly insofar as we are on the verge of joining Putin in a partnership against terrorism.
I detailed some of the evidence of FSB and Putin’s involvement in the bombings when I reviewed Garry Kasparov’s book Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped:
In 1999, when Putin was Yeltsin’s prime minister, a series of bombings in Russia had been attributed to Chechen separatists. In the town of Ryazan, a resident of an apartment building saw men carrying large sugar bags filled with white powder into the apartment basement. The resident called the police, who found the bags connected to a detonator. Chemical tests at the scene revealed the presence of the same type of explosive used in the previous bombings thought to be carried about by the Chechens. Putin praised the police and the alert citizen.
But then something weird happened. The director of the FSB announced that the planting of the bags was simply a training exercise by the FSB to test the public’s vigilance. There had been no explosives in the bags, he claimed, just sugar. Why announce this, after Putin himself had treated the discovery as a foiled terror plot? Because local police had already developed evidence tying the planting of the bags to FSB agents. Left unexplained: why the initial tests of mere sugar had revealed explosives. Suspicions increased with reports of soldiers having previously discovered sugar bags at a nearby military base with a “strange substance” that turned to be the explosive in question.
The bottom line is that there is evidence that Putin and the FSB were actually behind some of the bombings that were attributed to the Chechens.
This provides useful background for Satter’s article, in which he says he recently received a response to a FOIA request he sent to the State Department for documents relating to the bombings. Satter says that, among the documents he received in November was the ominous cable he describes here:
According to a cable on the Ryazan incident from the U.S. embassy in Moscow, on March 24, 2000, a former member of the Russian intelligence services told an embassy political officer that the real story of the Ryazan incident would never be known because “the truth would destroy the country.” He said that the FSB “does indeed have a specially trained team of men whose mission is to carry out this type of urban warfare.” He said that Viktor Cherkesov, the first deputy director of the FSB and a former interrogator of Soviet dissidents, was “exactly the right person to order and carry out such actions.”
But many of the documents Satter received were no heavily redacted as to be useless. The CIA knows something, he believes. Satter concludes:
Many years have gone by, but no Chechen has ever been convicted of participating in the apartment bombings, whereas the evidence of FSB involvement is overwhelming.
Imagine if President Trump were considering a partnership with Osama bin Laden to fight terrorism. If Putin is responsible for “Russia’s 9/11,” then a partnership with Putin would be different, not in kind, but only in terms of the scale of lives lost.
Satter is right: the CIA needs to reveal what it knows. I hope he takes this fight to court.