Investigators are still looking into one of the worst terrorist attacks in Russian history
One of the militants who took part in the 2004 attack on a primary school in Beslan has been identified by DNA matching, Izvestia reported on Friday, citing an investigator who is working on the case. The three-day siege ended with 334 of the hostages dead, 186 of whom were children.
A group of 32 terrorists loyal to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev had seized School Number One in Beslan, in the Russian region of North Ossetia, on September 1, 2004 – the first day of the school year. They took hostage 1,127 children and staff members, keeping them in the school gym without food or water for three days. All but one of the terrorists died in the shootout with Russian security forces. Five of them were so badly burned, they could not be identified.
One of them, known for 19 years as ‘Militant 11’, has now been identified as Aslanbek Parchiev, a native of nearby Ingushetia, Investigative Committee official Albert Hasauov told Izvestia in an exclusive interview.
“We haven’t stopped investigating that crime, to this day,” Hasauov told the outlet.
In May this year, the Investigative Committee received information that one of the unidentified terrorists came up on a fingerprint match. As it turned out, Militant 11 had been fingerprinted in 2002, when he was arrested for a misdemeanor in Moscow.
The authorities located Parchiev’s family, but they could not identify him from photographs of his charred remains. His sisters contributed DNA samples for analysis, which showed 99% certainty that ‘Militant 11’ was their brother, Hasauov revealed.
Both sisters told the police they still couldn’t believe their brother had been a terrorist who took part in taking children hostage. He last spoke to the family in 2003, telling them he was going to Kazakhstan to find work. Parchiev’s parents had hoped he would become a doctor, in the family tradition, but he dropped out of school and started buying and reselling various goods.
Another confirmation of Parchiev’s identity came from the sole surviving terrorist, Nurpasha Kulayev, who is currently serving a life sentence in a prison colony in Siberia. According to Hasauov, Kulayev recognized Parchiev as one of the militants who was in the gym with an assault rifle, and suggested he may have been killed on September 1, the first day of the standoff.
Kulayev maintains that he had no idea their target was a school full of children and parents, until the attack was underway. The original plan, he said, was to seize the police precinct or the local administration.
For three days, the militants held their hostages in the overcrowded gym, rigged with explosives. There was no drinking water. Some of the male hostages were executed. On the third day, one of their improvised explosive devices detonated by mistake. This triggered the storming of the school by the security forces. Kulayev jumped out of a window together with some of the hostages and surrendered to the authorities.
The school siege was a turning point in the Chechen conflict, with much of the Caucasus turning against Basayev for targeting children. Basayev himself died in July 2006, assassinated by the Russian security service FSB.
September 01, 2023 at 09:15PM