MOSCOW, March 18 (AFP) – Chechen rebels denied Thursday that they had any link to an unknown group that threatened to attack France unless it repealed a law banning Islamic headscarves in its state schools.
The threat was delivered in a letter addressed on Tuesday to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin from a previously unknown group called “Servants of Allah, the Powerful and Wise One” and signed by the “Mosvar Barayev commando”.
The signature, despite a spelling error, referred to Movsar Barayev, leader of a Chechen commando that took hundreds of people hostage in a Moscow theater in October 2002. Barayev was killed when Russian troops stormed the venue.
“There is no such thing as a Movsar Barayev brigade,” Abu Sayaf, a Chechen rebel commander, said in an interview with the separatists’ website, kavakazcenter.com.
“It is a lie,” he said. “We are not waging war with France. France did not attack us. We are waging war against the Russian empire. I call on the French government to stop its anti-Chechen propaganda… and to stop assenting to Moscow’s lies.”
French authorities received the letter from the group five days after the devastating train bombings in Madrid that left 201 people dead.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that although the letter, written in French, did not bear the hallmarks of the usual written messages from Islamic extremists, it was still being treated seriously.
Subject: France news