A common myth of American, Russian and other leaders is the best approach to ending terrorism is capturing leaders and killing them. George Bush proudly stood at the Sacred Ground of the World Trade Center and promised to get Osama bin Laden, dead of alive. The Russian government operates on similar principles in dealing with rebels who confront the government’s authority in Asian areas. Russian police killed Magomedali Vagabov, who supposedly was behind bombings in the Moscow subway. As Russian security forces increased their pressure on militants, the enemy responded by expanding their attacks on local authorities and members of the security. In attacks at Dagestani, they killed two border guards and slit the throats of others to make clear they will not be deterred by the death of their leaders. Security forces have killed two key leaders of Muslim insurgents and in retaliation several people have died.
An insurgency which has popular support will not end because of the death of a few leaders. All too often, killing a leader simply means a younger man with more radical ideas surges to a leadership role and violence increases. Addressing the needs of people is a much better way to achieve peace.