May 12, 2003: Suicide bombing in Chechnya injures hundreds

On May 12, 2003 three suicide bombers drove a truck bomb into the FSB offices in Chechnya, killing 59 people and injuring a further 200

ZNAMENSKOYE, CHECHNYA – Intelligence agencies try to prevent terrorist acts from occurring: as a result they too are targeted on occasion.

It will come – or rather should come – as a surprise to a grand total of no one that when it comes to intelligence I have a very distinct bias, and one that I feel no need to apologise for. After all, I did spend 32 years in the business and I’d like to think that I made some contribution towards keeping Canada safe.

Over the course of that time I had exchanges with a lot of other organisations. At first, while I was working in signals intelligence (SIGINT) for Communications Security Establishment (CSE), those exchanges were with the so-called ‘5 eyes‘ (the anglo alliance among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US). When I moved to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 2001 that club got bigger – a LOT bigger.

One of those partners in the post 9/11 era was Russia, the successor to the USSR, our sworn enemy during the Cold War. To say that meetings with the FSB (the Russian internal security service, a counterpart to CSIS) were odd would be a vast understatement. And yet we had a challenge in common in those days: Islamist terrorism.

Russia’s security forces have been very busy on the counter terrorism front for a very long time and have had successes as well as failures (in addition to terrible mistakes committed). As a consequence, the bad guys have had them in their sights as well.

On this day in 2003

Three suicide bombers, two of whom were women, drove a truck bomb into the FSB offices in Znamenskoye, Chechnya, killing 59 people and injuring a further 200. Many of the casualties were civilians.

We need to be more vigilant and responsible so that no vehicles with explosives can travel around the territory of the republic. Where did this car with explosives come from? How did it get to Znamenskoye? I have many questions.

Head of the pro-Moscow Chechen government, Akhmad Kadyrov

That some of Russia’s actions in Chechnya have been, how to put this nicely, ‘questionable’ has been oft noted. Still, civilians should not be those who suffer as a consequence.

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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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