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The Chechen Connection



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In October 2002 Chechen unofficial envoy Lyoma Usmanov denied any ties between the provisional Chechen government and al Qaeda. Though operational links between Al Qaeda and the Chechens remain sketchy, it is believed that Chechen fighters loyal to bin Laden comprised his shock force and perhaps bodyguard at Tora Bora. As well, Jordanian-born Chechen guerilla Omar Ibn al Khattab, now deceased, had links to bin Laden dating back to the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Ironically, in 2000 Ambassador Usmanov wrote Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggesting “tens of Chechen refugees” be brought to live in Arizona. “I thought it would be nice for Chechens,” Usmanov said. “Arizona is a mountain region – not beautiful like Chechnya – but anyway, a nice region for Chechens.” (The idea went nowhere.)



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