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Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Russian 9/11

Beslan, North Ossetia is a place many people worldwide would never have found on the map a mere week ago. On Wednesday, September 1, 2004 it made headlines as one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks unfolded there. A group of terrorists presumably affiliated with Chechen terror groups stormed a school during the First School Day ceremony (September 1 is the day the school year begins in Russia). All those present,- the students, teachers and those attending the ceremony,- were taken hostage. The hostages were kept in horrendous conditions, mostly denied access to food and water which many consider proof of the conscious intent on the part of perpetrators to cause mass death of hostages. About 20 hostages, mostly adult males, are alleged to have been shot to death by the terrorists.

On Friday, September 3 an explosion occurred whose nature is not yet clear. Some sources say it was an accidental detonation of one of the many explosive devices the terrorists have rigged the compound with; others believe it was a detonation of one of the explosive belts several female hostagetakers were wearing. The explosion sent hostages fleeing, the hostagetakers opened fire on them, then the Russian security forces stormed the school compound, and now over 300 people are dead. Many hundreds are injured.

I will comment on this situation more in the coming hours and days, but for now I only want to note the double standards used world-wide in regards to terror attacks. The tragedy of Beslan is not rated as a pivotal event in history, the way many media sources labeled 9/11. Yet, in my opinion, the numbers of people involved are quite comparable to the number of casualties during 9/11. And the brutality of this attack, the choice of a target,- children,- and the fact that the intended victims were to first be tortured is, in my opinion, reason to say that this attack rivals 9/11 in horror if not exceeds it. Beslan is certainly no New York, but the human suffering is the same everywhere.

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