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'Al-Qaeda got foothold in Russia'

By Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW, OCT. 6. Russia's security service chief said Al-Qaeda had established a foothold in the country with about 10 operatives of the international terrorist network active in the North Caucasus.

"Al-Qaeda is very much here in Russia," said the Federal Security Service (FSB) chief, Nikolai Patrushev, in an interview. He told NTV television that several Arab warlords killed in Chechnya were Al-Qaeda members. Mr. Patrushev named Omar Ibn al-Khattab who was eliminated in 2002 and and Abu al-Walid, killed earlier this year. He also mentioned a Saudi-born militant, Abu Hafs, who is believed to have replaced Abu al-Walid as the main foreign fund-raiser for Chechen rebels. Russian security officials said Abu Hafs had funded the school carnage in Beslan, North Ossetia, last month in which over 340 persons died. "According to our information, there are about 10 Al-Qaeda representatives on the territory of the North Caucasus at present," he said.

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