The Cable

State Department to leave Chechen rebel group off terror list

The State Department's update of its annual list of official terrorist groups is imminent, but the group that just attacked Moscow won't be on the list.

The Caucasus Emirate, which has been waging a jihad against the Russian government, is led by Doku Umarov, who calls himself the "emir of the North Caucasus." He was previously President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, but dissolved that Republic and established the Emirate in its place in 2007 in order to impose sharia law in his territory.

Umarov declared all the way back in 2007 that his group was expanding its struggle to wage war against the United States, Great Britain, and Israel. Last month, he released a video claiming credit for the suicide attacks in Moscow in March that resulted in the deaths of 39 people.

But apparently, the State Department chose not to include Caucasus Emirate in the newest update to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, according to Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, who is calling on the State Department to add the group for the sake of national security and U.S. -Russia relations.

"This is a low profile organization that has continued to carry out high profile acts of terrorism, including the twin bombings in Moscow recently," Hastings told The Cable in an exclusive interview, "They've got a jihad against Russia and the United States. If that ain't a terrorist organization, I don't know what is."

Hastings is introducing a new Congressional resolution Thursday detailing the crimes committed by Caucasus Emirate and urging the State Department to add them to the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Hastings, who is a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), got involved in the issue after hearing about the group from scores of Russian lawmakers. He said listing the group would be an easy win for U.S.-Russian relations.

"President Obama has pressed the reset button, but too often we find ourselves not trying to do things with the Russians," said Hastings, "The State Department has the opportunity to amend the report to include this organization."

Some experts note that there is internal debate within the Chechen rebel community about whether the group's declarations of jihad against the West is really such a good idea.

 "It seems that the Caucasian rebels themselves are frightened by their own ‘war declaration' against the West," Andrei Smirnov wrote in an article for the Jamestown Foundation, "The absurdity of the rebels' declarations lies in the fact that they declare war against the West, and at the same time beg for aid in their anti-Russian struggle."

"Whatever the Caucasian rebels say, it is clear that they do not have much in common with the interests of the international Jihadi movement," Smirnov went on, "This movement has no smaller plans than the Jihadi movement worldwide, but it nonetheless limits itself to activities inside Russia's borders and has no ambitions to grow into an international problem."

The Cable

Thursday, Bloody Thursday: Bono calls out senator over aid cuts

Add artist and activist Bono to the list of development leaders protesting the proposed cuts in foreign aid funding put forth by Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad. The U2 frontman pleaded for Washington to resist Conrad's cuts during an impassioned speech Wednesday night in Washington.

A host of senior officials and lawmakers have come out against the budget resolution Conrad's committee approved last Thursday, which would cut $4 billion from the $58.5 billion President Obama is requesting for the State Department and the foreign assistance budget next year. That $4 billion is almost all of the increase Obama wants for foreign aid. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and the entire development community have protested the cuts, saying that the foreign aid community needs more money to defend the weakest world citizens and protect U.S. national security.

"Development gets even less if Senator Conrad gets his way," Bono told a crowd of generals, politicians, and other Washington glitterati at the Ritz Carlton, where the Atlantic Council was holding its annual awards dinner and gala. "So you peaceniks in fatigues have a job to do over the next few weeks."

Bono was receiving one of the top awards at the dinner and praised everyone else in the U.S. policy establishment for acknowledging the importance of development work.

Referring to "that peacenik Robert Gates" and "that other well known hippie Jim Jones," Bono pointed out that some of the greatest advocates for increased development assistance were military men, highlighting the interdependence of military and development efforts in the third world.

"What I think General Jones, Secretaries Gates and Clinton, Senator McCain and others are getting at is that somehow these worlds -- defense and development -- are inextricably linked. They're not the same thing; they're very different, in fact; but they're linked, and we need to see them as part of the same picture. They're both essential if we really want to build a world that's more secure, more prosperous, and more just."

"I'm not suggesting we do each other's jobs. Far from it. I'm not suggesting that soldiers start wearing flowers in their hair, or carrying stethoscopes and fertilizers in their packs. Neither am I saying that peaceniks like me should put on combat helmets. No. There's a bright line that separates what we do from what many of you do. But our ultimate goals are the same goals, so let's not work at cross purposes."

Bono is well known and highly regarded in aid circles for being able to delink partisan politics from the debate over development and poverty. He founded and leads the anti-poverty advocacy group the ONE Campaign, which has worked hand in hand with the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and his message to the largely military crowd at the Atlantic Council event was finely tuned.

Clinton followed Bono's speech and spoke about his own work to fight poverty in Africa. Clinton's speech was long and somewhat rambling, and our sources think they know why: They saw him taking shots backstage during Bono's talk with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Other speakers at the event included Sen. John McCain, retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, and National Security Advisor Jim Jones, who poked fun at himself by alluding to a Jewish joke he made last week at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, for which he later apologized.

"Tempting as it might be, I think I've used up my quota of jokes for the week, so I'll pass," said Jones.