September 1, 2004: The Beslan hostage crisis

On this day in 2002, Chechen terrorists took over a school in Beslan, North Ossetia. Almost 200 children were dead.

Terrorists can have their ’causes’ but they should never make children part of their plans

Even someone like me, someone who worked in counter terrorism, accepts that terrorists on occasion have a point. Before I get email or hate mail, allow me to clarify this statement. I have to acknowledge that if I look at what terrorist groups say about why they do what they do it is fairly easy to agree with their grievances, at least in part.

For instance, if country A invades and occupies country B it stands to reason that individuals and groups that take actions, up to and including terrorist action, to get country A to leave. After all, that is was led to the emergence of Al Qaeda (AQ) after the Soviet entry into Afghanistan during the Christmas period in 1979 (recall that the West SUPPORTED AQ at first since they were hitting our #1 enemy: those damned communists).

However, blowing up Soviet convoys is one thing, killing civilians is something else. AQ may have been justified when it left an IED to target invasion forces but the same act is completely unacceptable when it comes to doing it with innocent passersby in mind.

And that would include children.

On this day in 2004

This is what makes today’s featured attack so heinous. On this day in 2004 armed Chechen terrorists took approximately 1,200 children and adults hostage at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, (Russia) at 9 AM. By the time the siege ended on September 3 more than 330 had been killed, including 186 children, and more than 700 people were wounded.

186 children killed because Chechen terrorists wanted to get back at Russians over their policies and actions in their homeland (which, in all truth, were indeed heinous in their own right)? I don’t care how ‘right’ your cause is: it is NEVER right enough to kill children.


By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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