- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CAUCASUS TERRORISM

The co-chairman of a key congressional human rights panel is calling on the State Department to add a Russian terrorist organization to the U.S. blacklist of extremist groups, citing the Caucasus Emirate as a threat to the United States.

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, said the group has links to al Qaeda and includes calls on its website for Muslims to wage holy war against the United States.

The Caucasus Emirate took responsibility for the March attack on the Moscow subway system that killed as many as 40 people and injured 100 other commuters. It also committed at least 60 terrorist acts in Russia’s North Caucasus region over the past three months, Mr. Hastings said.

“The Caucasus Emirate cooperates with al Qaeda and has declared jihad on the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and Israel,” said Mr. Hastings, co-chairman of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. “This organization is a threat to our national security and that of our allies.”

Mr. Hastings last week introduced a resolution in the House that, he said, calls on the administration “to officially acknowledge that reality” of the Caucasus Emirate’s threat to the United States.

He added that he introduced the resolution after learning that the State Department is unlikely to include the Caucasus Emirate in its latest “Country Reports on Terrorism.”

“The United States and Russia must stand together in this ongoing struggle against violent fanatics,” Mr. Hastings said. “In this fight, there is no room for double standards. We must be consistent.”

Independent analysts such as Stratfor Global Intelligence were initially skeptical about the Caucasus Emirate. However Stratfor now says that “it is time to seriously examine the group and its leadership.”

Stratfor said the Caucasus Emirate appears to be an umbrella group of radical Muslims who fought against Moscow in the second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009.

SAUDI PARTNER

The Saudi ambassador is promoting the creation of an international forum to combat terrorism and heralding the improving relations between the kingdom and the United States.

Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir last week issued a call in Washington for greater international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and cited the “unique” relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States in a speech to business executives in Chicago.

“Information is one of the most effective weapons in fighting terrorism, and nations committed to combating terrorism must do more to improve the exchange of information in order to improve the exchange of information in order to improve public safety,” he said in a statement released by the Saudi Embassy.

“If nations can agree on policies and procedures for protecting public safety and continuously work to improve them by sharing information, experiences and technology, then the security of everyone would be enhanced.”

Mr. al-Jubeir said he was renewing a call from King Abdullah, who proposed an International Counter-terrorism Center during a conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in 2005.

In Chicago, the ambassador told executives at the U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum of the “unprecedented levels” of trade and travel between the two countries. Bilateral trade is more than $67 billion, according to the U.S.-Saudi Arabia Business Council.

The United States issued nearly 70,000 visas to Saudi subjects last year, while the Saudis approved more than 60,000 visas for Americans, the ambassador said.

“The Saudi-U.S. relationship is in its 70th decade,” Mr. al-Jubeir said. “It has seen the coming and breaking of many storms. It has been tried. It has been tested, and it has always come out stronger after each experience.”

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