A Russian official confirms that two-thirds of the Islamist terrorist force that attacked the Caucasian town of Nalchik Thursday were local residents

Earlier, debkafile identified the group as the Caucasian Front of al Qaeda under the command of the Kabardino-Balkaria Wahhabi cell.
The republic’s deputy interior minister Andrew Novikov also reported that their leader Ilyas Gorchkhanov had been killed and 31 of his followers arrested. The official casualty figures in two days of fighting in the republic that borders on Chechnya are at least 12 civilians, 24 security forces personnel and 70 rebels killed. Some 15 hostages were freed. Russian forces are combing through the town to mop up remnants of the terrorist group, known locally as Wahhabi extremists. It is feared they have gone to ground among the local population to regroup for further attacks in their drive to radicalize and destabilize the Muslim republics of southern Russia.
The terrorists attacked and looted police and military armories to replenish weapons and ammo supplies. They attacked federal Russian institutions and Russian forces, whom they call kafir, meaning infidels. With the CFQ were also rebel units from Chechnya and Circassia. The al Qaeda statement claimed the organization has enough men on the ground “to fulfill its mission” – a hint of more attacks to come on Nalchik. It also claimed the deaths of 110 Russian troops in the first stage of its assault compared with 4 terrorist losses.
The Nalchik Wahhabi cell of al Qaeda is notably dangerous and ruthless. It provided the jumping off base for the raiders who besieged the Beslan school a year ago, leaving 332 dead, most children.
After than attack, on Sept. 13, 2004, debkafile reported that the small, out-of-the- way province of Kabardino-Balkaria (est. pop. one million) attracted an al Qaeda presence from 2002 when American bases went up in Georgia. Its leaders decided to counter the US presence by establishing a strategic base in the Muslim Northern Caucasus, the southwestern region of the Russian Federation.
Most of the province’s inhabitants are ethnic Circassian Muslims. The unrecorded chapter of the Chechen intelligence war of the 1990s relates how the Circassian community of Jordan, which was the security buttress of the Hashemite throne, was used by US, British and French intelligence as a pipeline into the Chechen breakaway movement for close surveillance of its conflict with Russia. Al Qaeda, which tracks and meets every American intelligence move connected with the global war on terror, countered by going into the remote and relatively affluent Kabardino-Balkaria to quietly acquire its own Circassian asset.
Until early 2005, the Kabardino-Balkaria cells were the rear bases of the Saudi Wahhabis fighting in the Chechen rebellion against Russia. They were also used for trading intelligence and weapons. But then the Saudi fighters moved out of Chechnya to join Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s terrorist ranks in Iraq. Al Qaeda then promoted the Nalchik Wahhabi cell to become its leading Caucasian base.

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