RealNews

A Cult of Reluctant Killers

Medna Bayrakova remembers the day a middle-aged woman showed up at her door and asked to speak to her 26-year-old daughter. They shut themselves in the bedroom for half an hour, and then her daughter left, saying she was walking the visitor to the bus stop. An hour later, Zareta still hadn’t returned and several men in camouflage knocked at the door of the family’s ravaged apartment in this ruined Chechen capital. “We have taken away your daughter. She has agreed to marry one of our men,” one said. Bayrakova protested. “She’s a sick girl. She has tuberculosis. She was coughing up blood only this morning.” “We will cure her,” they replied quietly. The next time Bayrakova and her husband saw their daughter’s face, it was 24 days later — separatist Chechen rebels had seized Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater, along with 800 hostages. Zareta’s unmistakable dark eyes were visible above a black veil on the television screen. Her fingers were clasped below a belt of powerful explosives. Full Story

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