Thursday, September 01, 2005

School Siege Leader Calls Russia Unwitting Ally

MOSCOW, Aug. 31 - Shamil Basayev, the Chechen rebel leader and mastermind of the siege last year at School No. 1 in Beslan, said Wednesday that Russia's special services had helped make the assault possible by allowing the terrorists safe passage toward the school in an attempt to ambush them.
In an announcement on a Web site that often posts his statements and videos, Mr. Basayev said he had deceived Russian intelligence services, which believed that his accomplices would attack a government center in the regional capital and cleared a route at the border as part of a trap, which the terrorists sidestepped. The Russian authorities denounced the statement, dismissing it as "total nonsense" and the assertions of a "child murderer.""Investigators have no evidence suggesting that special services were in any way involved in the seizure," Nikolai Shepel, Russia's deputy prosecutor general, told the Interfax news agency.Unraveling truth from fiction in Mr. Basayev's statements has often proved difficult; he is prone to exaggeration, absurdities and lies. His past statements, however, have at times offered fresh details or evidence of his activities that have later been confirmed.The Web posting, which was timed to appear in the news as residents of Beslan prepared for the first anniversary of the school seizure, exploited the uncertainties and lingering questions that surround the terrorist act. The school was seized on the morning of Sept. 1, when the terrorists took nearly 1,200 hostages. The crisis ended in battle and fire on Sept. 3; 331 people died, including 186 children. More than 700 other people were wounded........


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