A suspected terrorist arrested after the Beslan school massacre, spoke on Russian state-run television:
“Of course I pitied the children, I swear to Allah. I have children myself. I didn’t shoot. I swear to Allah,” he said. “I don’t want to die. I swear to Allah, I want to live.”
The children wanted to live too, not to mention their parents and teachers. The death toll, now at 338 hostages and 10 special forces soldiers, is expected to rise; 58 survivors are in critical condition.
Mark Steyn observes that most nationalist movements, however ruthless, don’t deliberately slaughter schoolchildren.
When your asymmetrical warfare strategy depends on gunning down schoolchildren, you’re getting way more asymmetrical than you need to be. The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.
But they didn’t. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators’ own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn’t seem to be an issue here.
So the particular character of this “insurgency” does not derive from the requirements of “asymmetrical warfare” but from . . . well, let’s see, what was the word missing from those three analyses of the Beslan massacre? Here’s a clue: half the dead “Chechen separatists” were not Chechens at all, but Arabs. And yet, tastefully tiptoeing round the subject, The New York Times couldn’t bring itself to use the words Muslim or Islamist, for fear presumably of offending multicultural sensibilities.
Beslan has started to bury the victims. The fifth photo in this series is especially poignant.