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Al-Qaeda tie to school hostage-takers probed

Among the wilted flowers brought to celebrate the first day of classes in the now blackened wreckage of Beslan’s School No. 1 were signs of a sophisticated terrorist operation. That evidence is sparking a re-examination of Chechen links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. “They were so well trained, the highest level,” said Oleg Tedeyev, deputy chief of a police unit here. He was involved in Friday’s battle with hostage-takers that left at least 338 people dead, half of them children. In recent months, radical Islamic Chechen leaders such as Shamil Basayev, along with terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, have been “clear” about wanting to “set Russia on fire,” said Michael Radu, a terrorism expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. But he added, “This is not an al-Qaeda operation. These are autonomous groups,” he said. “It’s not like bin Laden wrote the checks. But they are synchronized ideologically and strategically.”Full Story

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