Osama bin Laden is evil incarnate, according to the United States. Regardless of the lack of evidence presented for his crimes against the United States, he is nevertheless the cause of sanctions against Afghanistan, the last thing the country needs.
The same goes for a man named Khozh-Achmed Noukhaev. You probably haven’t heard of him lately. According to Russia, he is also evil incarnate, responsible for bombings in downtown Moscow and brutal killings as the leader of the Chechen mafia.
As a result of his actions, and those of his fellow gang members, Grozny is once again target practice for Russian artillery and rockets. Refugees are strewn about like shrapnel. Mothers with head-kerchiefs and dirty children line the roads out of Chechnya.
Bin Laden and Noukhaev are terrorists and barbarians, deserving no less than a trial in the countries with whom they are warring, if death doesn’t find them first, according to those they fight.
These particular terrorists have no land of their own. Bin Laden travels to would-be Khalifahs around the world, evading the United States, while Noukhaev travels to industrialized, oil-hungry Western nations, evading the Russians.
No real information about bin Laden exists for the American public to digest, so that they might make decisions of their own, but, if you want some insight into the life of a terrorist, the University Film Society has something for you.
A documentary of postwar Chechnya by Dutch filmmaker Jos de Putter is now available for public consumption. The documentary follows Noukhaev from Chechnya to Istanbul to London as he attempts to build the state his people haven’t had since tzar Alexander II wrested the northern Caucasus from them over 100 years ago.
The Russians have paid for that theft in the form of years of war, rebellion and the establishment of a fearful crime syndicate. It’s funny how the oppressors come to fear the oppressed after a while.
The documentary tells of Noukhaev assaulting little Russian boys until they stood up when he walked by. It tells of his escape from gulags in Soviet Siberia. It describes how he gained control of the underworld in Russia so that he could make money while pushing for Chechnya.
The documentary explains how a boy begins to hate, how a young man becomes a rebel and how an older man becomes a terrorist.
It seems to me, all you need to be a rebel is a life of oppression — perceived or real, for some rebels are more righteous than others — fraught with poverty, untimely death and a nemesis countless times more powerful than you are.
To become a terrorist, on the other hand, you must claw your way up, make money, get armed and actually begin fighting the power that oppresses you. What is the difference between Noukhaev and the Black Panthers? Between them and bin Laden? Are they rebels? Terrorists? Barbarians? Evil incarnate?
Watch the documentary this week. Maybe it can teach us a little about rebellion in these modern times and what it takes to fight great powers and build new states.
“The Making of a New Empire” plays Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:15 p.m. at the Bell Museum Auditorium, across from the Resource Center of Americas. Admission is $5 for general admission, $4 for students and seniors, and $3 for members of the film society.
Sascha Matuszak is a Daily staff reporter. He welcomes comments at [email protected]