Who are the Black Widows of Chechnya? And Why do They Want to Bomb the Olympics?

Black Widow in wheelchair, strapped with bombs, trigger in hand.

Who are the Black Widows, known in Russia as the Shahidka? They gained global attention when images of Chechen women dressed in black chadors, their waists and chests adorned with bombs, flooded Russian television screens during the three-day Moscow theatre hostage crisis in October 2002 that left 129 people dead. They are members of the much larger martyrs brigade thought to be commanded by Doku Umarov, a Islamist Chechen militant leader.

Russia’s history of Black Widows dates back to 2000, when Khava Barayeva and Luiza Magomadova blew themselves up at a Russian Army base in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya, but that's hardly the beginning of a long history that they are but one small chapter of. The term of "Black Widows" probably originates from the fact that many of these women are widows of men killed by the Russian forces in Chechnya in the past decades of this long conflict. As Scott Stewart of Stratfor says, "Tactically, it makes sense to use women operatives because they’re just seen as less threatening. In many cultures, it’s just not really seen as acceptable to really check women or frisk women carefully, so they’re able to smuggle suicide devices.”

While Russian and nearly all MSM outlets describe the Shahidka as a two-dimensional terrorist group including by saying that many of the women have been sold by their parents to be used as Shahidkas, that others have been kidnapped or tricked or that they come from Wahhabist families which press them to become Shahidkas. Few actual security experts buy these explanations. Most, like International security experts Robert W. Kurz and Charles K. Bartles argue that these women are much more motivated by revenge, despair, and their drive for an independent state than by religious fundamentalism or individual honor. The Black Widows long list of notable attacks provides plenty of cause for worry about the safety of Sochi's Olympics.

Why they want to bomb the Olympics is a much longer story. The Russians and the westarn MSM try to get us to start the story with the First Chechen War, a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought from December 1994 to August 1996. In reality they have been at war almost continously since the onset of Russian expansionism to the south as early as the 16th century with Ivan the Terrible's conquest of Astrakhan, the founding of Tarki in 1559 and the stationing of the first Cossack army there.

Most Russian, Caucasus, and Western historians agree that within the next two decades the Russian army rounded up and deported nearly 500,000 people of the highland Caucasus from their villages, sending them first to ports on the Black Sea, including Sochi, where they awaited ships provided by the neighboring Ottoman Empire.

But even that is all just part of the recent history of Chechnya's many years of resistance to invaders. The recurring pattern in Chechen history: invasion, met with fierce and determined resistance by the Chechens, who usually started out losing but then reversed the tide. Invasions not only from the north but also the south when, for instance, during the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongols and their Turkic vassals launched two long, massive invasions of the territory of modern Chechnya. The ancestors of modern Chechens bear the distinction of being one of the few peoples to successfully resist the Mongols, not once, but twice.

The ancestors of the Chechens, and all Nakh peoples, are thought to have populated the Central Caucasus around 10000 BCE- 8000 BCE. They came to the Caucasus from the Fertile Crescent at or near what we now call the 'birth of civilization'. It's believed they either chose or were forced to leave the area due to over-population. Another remarkable part of their history is that their ancestors are credited with the invention of the wheel which is first found in the Central Caucasus around 4000 BCE-3000 BCE.

The Black Widows of Chechnya are the focus of a massive security operation in and around Sochi right now. The poster above of one of the women suspects the Russian security forces, and others, are combing Sochi for that are plastered everywhere in and around Sochi shows, the Shahidka don't always appear dressed in black chadors making them invisible usually. Further, the press continues to portray them as outsiders when in reality they could just as well have been born and lived their entire lives in Sochi. They might have Olympic security jobs, who knows.

What we should all know is that The Black Widows don't see themselves as terrorists, they see themselves as warriors in an ancient war. They don't see any of us outsiders as 'innocent' civilians, but as another invader to be expelled with, as Doku Umarov calls for, "maximum force'.

Billions of us 'outsiders' will watch parts of the Olympics in February. Our kids will be there after having worked most of their lives to achieve that goal. But as we watch and pray in our hearts that all the kids, coaches and spectators etc. come home joyous, safe and sound, it's important to remember that whenever we accept the authorities and the MSM's simplistic version of what is in reality far from simple, we do ourselves and our dreams a dis-service by not truly understanding that everyone, agree with them or not, has dreams too.