Stroilov: I am very honoured, though I would have much preferred to see the author of the book, Alexander Litvinenko, here in my place. Alas, he cannot speak for himself anymore, so our sad duty is to act as his posthumous spokesmen.While Alexander was still alive, he made a number of extremely important allegations. If nothing else, his horrible death itself proves that those allegations should be taken very seriously and investigated most thoroughly.
FP: Our thoughts and prayers are with Alexander and with his family. Against all odds, let us hope that his killers will one day be brought to justice.Let’s start our discussion with the FSB’s links to Al-Qaeda.
Stroilov: Alexander revealed, in his articles and interviews included in the Allegations, that at least two notorious Al Qaeda terrorists are secret agents of the FSB – one of whom, Aiman al Zawahiri, is bin Laden’s second-in-command.As the former leader of the terrorist organisation Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al Zawahiri was on international lists of most wanted terrorists for many years. In 1997, he suddenly re-surfaced in Russia, where he undertook a special training course at a secret FSB base in Dagestan. After that, he was sent to Afghanistan, and joined Al Qaeda as bin Laden’s number two. Meanwhile, the FSB officers who had supervised him in Dagestan were promoted and re-assigned to Moscow. It was from them that Alexander learned about al Zawahiri.These and other facts of FSB involvement in international terrorism, revealed by Alexander, have tremendous implications. Contrary to the view of many in the US, Russia is anything but a reliable ally of yours in the ‘war on terror’. The Kremlin is playing a treacherous double game: while enjoying the West’s support as ally, it secretly supports and manipulates the Al Qaeda through FSB agents of influence.As Alexander writes: “It is possible to destroy the whole international terrorism tomorrow, along with Russian Mafia. All you need to do is disband the Russian special services.”
FP: Ok just a second. Alexander states that, “It is possible to destroy the whole international terrorism tomorrow, along with Russian Mafia. All you need to do is disband the Russian special services.” His point is well taken. The FSB does a lot to bolster Islamo-Fascism. And the FSB’s involvement here is significant, dangerous and reprehensible -- and we must be honest about it. But to imply that the threat of radical Islam toward the West would dissipate if the Russian special services were disbanded is a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think? Alexander is making a strong point with a bit of hyperbole, correct?
Stroilov: Yes, in a sense he is. I don’t think that terrorism would disappear immediately if you just close down the Kremlin and Lubyanka. However, that would certainly do the terrorists more damage than anything you have done yet, and that would open you the way to a final victory.Indeed, that would be much more than just cutting the enemy supplies. For the war against terrorism is all about intelligence: the most horrible terrorist is absolutely toothless without secrecy. Overthrowing the KGB regime in Russia would mean investigation of its crimes which, in turn, would give you such intelligence about the international terrorist networks which you could never obtain elsewhere. Litvinenko, an FSB officer who was not even involved in supervision of international terrorists, revealed information of tremendous importance about leaders of Al Qaeda. Can you imagine how much more information you would have if only you could interrogate those directly responsible, and search in their secret archives? If, as Alexander wrote, the ‘Kremlin is the centre of world terrorism’, taking over the Kremlin would mean capturing the enemy headquarters. You would know everything: names, chains of commands, communication channels, supply channels, hiding places, etc, etc.On the other hand, imagine what would happen if the truth about Moscow’s hand in organisations like Al Qaeda is made public. It is hardly a very fresh idea that ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the Muslims is the key to victory in the whole ‘war on terror’. To put it mildly, I strongly doubt that revelations about Al Qaeda leaders’ intimate relations with Moscow would boost their popularity. Rather than being ‘lions of Allah’, as they call each other, they would be exposed as moles of Putin. After that, suicide bombers would probably think twice before obeying their orders. But thinking twice is no good in suicide bombers’ profession.If you are serious about the global war, let us try and think strategically. The most important strategic target in that war is the Kremlin. That is not only the best way to start winning it, but, as far as I can see, the only way. Paraphrasing Alexander, we can say it is impossible to destroy the international terrorism even in a century unless you disband the Russian secret services first.
FP: Russian special services are aiding international terrorism. But Islamist terror is also, on some realms, targeting Russia – and has also hit Russia. How do we make sense of all this?
Stroilov: It is not the first time when Russian people and Russian special services find themselves on opposite sides. In fact, Russia is exactly the place where the FSB hand in terrorism, Islamist or otherwise, can be seen most clearly. The ‘Nord-Ost’ story is only one example, and not the brightest one. In 1999, the FSB blew up four apartment blocks in Russia, and then were caught red-handed attempting to blow-up the fifth. After that, they announced that the bomb was a fake (the expert technicians simply mistook sugar for an explosive mixture), and the whole operation was a training exercise. Before that, in mid-1990s, one FSB officer was killed trying to blow up a railroad bridge, and another one was convicted by court for blowing up a bus in Moscow.Alexander Litvinenko was well-known precisely for his investigation of the FSB terrorism in Russia, particularly the 1999 apartment blocks explosions. A big part of the Allegations is about it, and even more details are given in Blowing-up Russia. Terror from within by Litvinenko and Yuri Felshtinsky.The FSB is at war with Russian citizens, and that is more than just a figure of speech. They resort to any means in that war. They have created the terrorist threat in Russia, and then ‘defended’ us from it – in exchange for our obedience.