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Saturday, February 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Bomb in Qatar kills key Chechen rebel
By Susan B. Glasser
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, 51, who'd been living in exile in Qatar for the past several years, was believed by experts to have been the key Middle Eastern fund-raiser for the Chechen rebels. He was the first Chechen added to a U.N. list of suspected terrorists with ties to the al-Qaida network.
No one claimed responsibility for the car bomb in Qatar's capital, Doha. Yandarbiyev's son Daud, who was also traveling in the car, was injured and remained hospitalized, officials said.
In Russia, politicians condemned Yandarbiyev as an agent of "international terrorism" and speculated about possible infighting among Chechen rebel factions that could have resulted in his death. The pro-Moscow Chechen president, Akhmad Kadyrov, welcomed his death.
A pro-Chechen Web site blamed the Russian special services. The Web site quoted an aide to Yandarbiyev, Ibrahim Gabi, as saying, "There is no doubt the Lubyanka is behind this bloody act," referring to the Moscow headquarters of the former KGB and its post-Soviet successor, the FSB. "In the 21st century, instead of poisoned umbrellas and ice picks, the Kremlin terrorists use bombs."
The Web site said Yandarbiyev was returning home from Friday prayers when the explosion occurred.
Russian news agencies quoted an FSB spokesman as denying any involvement.
"There are two possible variations first that it is a response by Russia to the explosion in the Moscow metro last week," said Alexei Malashenko, a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center. "Or it could have been done by radical Islamists in the Caucasus not satisfied with him." The Feb. 6 explosion killed 39 people and was blamed on Chechen militants.
Malashenko said he had documented contributions gathered by Yandarbiyev for the Chechen separatists from charitable organizations in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as a fund-raising drive that netted $1.5 million in gold about two years ago. Yandarbiyev "really did control the money flow from the Middle East to Chechnya," he said. But Malashenko said he had found no direct evidence linking Yandarbiyev to al-Qaida, as Russia has charged.
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