The U.S. State Department has designated an al-Qaida-linked Russian terrorist organization, the Caucasus Emirate (IK – Imarat Kavkaz), and offered a $5 million reward for its leader. The move, which was accompanied by a joint statement by the Russian and American presidents, illustrates a new level of cooperation between the two nations in counterterrorism affairs.
The Secretary of State designated Russian Islamist group, the Caucasus Emirate (IK), for a series of deadly attacks on Russian civilians. "In December 2009, investigators identified a May 15, 2009 suicide bombing outside the Chechnya Interior Ministry as being organized under Doku Umarov, IK's senior leader," said a statement about the designation. "Since its attack against a Russia high-speed rail train in November 2009, IK has continued to threaten the Government of Russia. In addition to its attack on the high-speed Nevsky Express, IK also claimed responsibility for the January 2011 bombing at the Domodedovo airport that killed 36 people."
The U.S. also authorized a substantial reward for the group's senior leader Doku Umarov, who was named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in June 2010. Umarov has led the group's effort to "establish an Islamic emirate through violence in the North Caucasus, Southern Russia, and Volga regions of the Russian Federation, with Umarov as its Emir," a State Department press release about the reward said. "Umarov has issued several public statements encouraging followers to commit violent acts against CE's declared enemies, which include the United States as well as Israel, Russia, and the United Kingdom."
A joint statement issued by the Russian and American presidents pledged additional cooperation, particularly in the area of transportation security. "We reaffirm our common view of the threat to global security posed by al Qa'ida and advocate continued cooperation to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat this terrorist organization," said the joint statement, which was posted on the White House's website. "Protection of the traveling public remains a key focus of our efforts. We intend to enhance our cooperation by putting in place measures to strengthen security in airports serving our two countries and enhance cooperation on other modes of transportation. We remain committed to constructively exploring additional steps we could take, both bilaterally and in multilateral fora."
"In particular, we intend to discuss how we can improve in-air security through the deployment of law enforcement personnel on select flights, the state-of-the-art in explosives detection measures, and how we can work together in multilateral organizations to improve global supply chain security."
Russia has not been cooperative with all American counterterrorism efforts. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with members of Fatah, as well as terrorist organizations Hamas and PFLP, according to a recent article on the website of Hamas' military wing. The Palestinian delegation "praised Russia's efforts to support inter-Palestinian reconciliation" and "reiterated their wish to strengthen Russian-Palestinian ties, including the [joint] promotion of the Palestinian cause and the protection of rights and interests of the Palestinian people."
The United States rejected the reconciliation agreement over Hamas' continued support for terror and rejection of Israel's existence.