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Old 09-07-2004, 10:19 PM   #91
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He ordered us to pray
and threw a grenade

From Will Stewart in Russia

THE children who survived the horror of Beslan yesterday relived visions of hell that will scar their souls for ever.

Sasha Pogrebov, 13, was the first to flee the mayhem as the siege reached its bloody climax in a firestorm of explosions and bullets.

Yesterday he was in hospital, his tiny body covered in burns. He had been held in the gym—once his favourite place.

"The rebels were so cruel with us, especially on Friday morning," he sobbed. "They didn't allow us to drink. Almost all of us were drinking urine. It's all we could do.

"We were undressed and one rebel noticed a little Orthodox cross round my neck. He came up to me, poked it with the barrel of his gun and said, ‘You, non-Muslim! Pray!'

‘So I began to pray to Jesus loudly...and they started throwing grenades into the crowd."

Schoolpal Zalina Vazagova, 13, was in terror too as the blasts started. "I heard a terrible crack above my head and closed my eyes," she said. "When I opened them I thought everyone around me was dead. I couldn't understand—was I alive or dead?

"There was so much blood all over me. One granny was lying nearby with a hole in her head.

"The body of our PE teacher had fallen on me. All the kids were crying ‘Please don't shoot! Please don't kill us!' But the rebels didn't listen. I was sitting near them and they forced me and some other girls to run.

"Luckily I came by an open window and just jumped out. A man in army uniform caught me and brought me to the ambulance."

Sobbing, she added: "My 10-year-old sister Lena was left inside there. I don't know if she's alive."

Survivor Salimat Suleimanova was put through a mother's ultimate torment by the terror gang.

She was released early with her two-month-old daughter Amina—but was forced to leave her son Shamil in the school.

Racked with guilt, she sobbed yesterday: "I begged the rebels on my knees to let me take him but they refused. Now I don't know where he is. It was only his first day at school. They didn't even allow me to go back and say goodbye to my son."

The distraught mum added: "Of about 1,200 hostages in there, many lay unconscious by the end of the second day without food and water.

"From time to time rebels took those out, poured water over their heads and threw them back into the crowd. The rebels took some men—the strongest, fittest ones—upstairs and soon we heard shooting. We presume they murdered them, although they claimed they were shot by Russian soldiers from their tanks outside."

Brave Diana Gadzhieva, 14, escaped along with 11-year-old sister Alina—then told how their mother also faced a nightmare decision when the rebels wanted to release her and their three-year-old sister Madina.

"We got so scared when Mum was leaving," said Diana. "But still we both begged her to go. Madina was crying almost all the time and the rebels got more and more nervous and irritated. I feared one moment they'd just shoot our mum.

"The rebels never allowed us to drink and eat. Some kids grabbed flowers and plants from a classroom and ate them.

"They also hid some in their knickers to share with others. It's not that bad to be hungry, much worse to be thirsty. I saw kids drinking their own urine.

"It was so hot inside there, that's why we were undressed. The rebels ordered us to lie down on the floor with our faces down. They vowed to shoot anyone who looked up."

Diana noticed the rise in tension on Friday. "We heard an explosion somewhere near, then gunfire," she said. "Panic started and a few boys jumped out of the windows.

"My sister and I didn't want to run out, we were scared of being shot dead. But then the second explosion came. It was just over our heads and something heavy fell down on us and others.

"People were shouting and I looked up and saw so many children around me lying in blood and not moving. Just next to me there was a dead woman all covered in blood. I also saw many arms and legs that had been torn away.

"All the bombs were connected with cords and started blowing up one after another, getting closer and closer to us.

"So I took Alina's hand and we ran to the window and jumped out. We were running as quickly as possible and our backs were terribly hot. We did not get any serious burns, though, so we went straight home.

"But our mum wasn't there. She'd been taken to hospital, Now she's feeling really bad because of all the stress. But, thank God, we're all OK."

Tales of incredible heroism emerged from the carnage, too.

Fifteen-year-old Arkadiy Zankaev said: "The floor was completely blown up near us. I was too weak and couldn't get out. But my friend Azamat Bekov saved me.

"He pushed me through an open window and then helped me escape.

"After the first explosion everyone had run to the windows. The elder kids helped the younger ones. Our parents followed us. But the rebels were shooting at us from the roof."

Arkadiy said his captors had spoken Russian and sometimes another language he couldn't identify when they talked among themselves.

"When I asked one of them for a drink, he hit me with a gun butt and shouted, ‘It's forbidden!'

"Many kids suffered from severe headaches. It was extremely hot inside the gym.

"Adults tore their clothes off and soaked them in their own urine to use as compresses on children's heads. It was such a horrid smell. My head was stinking so badly.

"We also saw the terrorists tear off hostages' civilian clothes so they could disguise themselves and escape into the town."

School cook Sima Albegova will never forget the nightmare conditions inside the siege.

"There were about 1,000 people in there just packed like sardines," she said.

"There was no way for all of us to sleep at the same time. There was no space.

"By Friday morning conditions were so bad that people could hardly breathe. Most of the kids were almost unconscious," said Sima.

"Those who could move started to pee into shoes and then drink the urine. It was all we could do. They'd take several sips then stop and cry because their chapped lips were burning.

"I begged the terrorists for water but they just said, ‘Go away! They will survive.' But so many have not."

After the great escape, little Marina Khudanova, aged seven, was lying in a field outside the hospital awaiting treatment.

Her thin legs were covered with fir-tree needles but she was too weak to brush them off. Her hair was matted with blood and her lips covered with soot.

"I am brave," she said. "But I will not go to school again. I will never go to that school. I will stay at home with Mummy." Twelve-year-old Dzerase Dzetskelova told her mother Indira that several 15-year-olds were raped by their captors and she had to listen to the victims' awful cries and screams.

Telling of her escape, Dzerase said: "We had to jump over dead bodies."

Then the traumatised youngster screamed: "Oh God no, don't make me remember it. Can I ever forget it? Is it possible one day I'll forget it?"

But she recovered her composure and continued: "The terrorists started to shoot at us from the roof. I saw kids and women fall to the ground. Then I looked up and saw that vermin's face.

"I saw his smile as he killed my friends."

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Old 09-07-2004, 10:40 PM   #92
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I am not saying that all or most Muslim males are terrorists, it is however undeniable that quite a number of terrorists are Muslim. This form of violent suicide terrorism is generally isolated to Islamist groups and the Tamil Tigers. You would not see nationalist groups commit acts like this without such a religious element. ETA and the IRA would not take hundreds of innocent children hostage and kill them. You would not see the Black Panthers hijack airplanes simply to crash them. Religious terrorism is the worst form because it is a nothing to loose mentality - when people are willing to give their lives at the drop of a hat because of what they believe the stakes are raised immensly.

It breaks my heart to see the state of the Muslim world, there is a very big problem when you have an entire school of thought within the Islamic world that is the antithesis of life. That is why you see apocalyptic no holds barred terror - these groups, this sick ideology that is one part religious rhetoric and nine parts sensless violence poses the greatest threat to the world. Lets do people a favour by not muddying the waters - Islam is NOT the problem - Despotism is! To fight despotism we must fight for freedom, freedom for people to live the way that they want to without fear of violent reprisals.

Until people actually start to raise objections to Muslims who encourage death and destruction the voices of moderation will be drowned out in a cacophony of hatred. The only way for any society to progress is to acknowledge where there is a problem and find solutions - you can see these objections raised in many forums by Muslims who are fed up with the violence. Don't be silent, speak out against injustice in all of its forms and never, I repeat never look away.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

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Old 09-08-2004, 03:35 AM   #93
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I'm sorry, but post-ing an old xenophobic e-mail forward doesn't count as an argument.

You know and I know you can do better, as evinced by your post just before this one. I'm asking that you not resort to posting boilerplate, tired old chain e-mails rather than coherent arguments.

And I think your previous post DID insinuate that there is something about being a Muslim man between the ages of 17 and 40 that is oriented toward terrorism in ways that persons of other gender, ages, ethnicities, or religions are not. Hence, the warning.

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Old 09-08-2004, 03:50 AM   #94
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That e-mail was somewhat amusing, I wouldn't say xenophobic because it is listing events to illustrate that political violence has been commited numerous times by said groups, my bet is that we read into it differently - I won't defend it because its really not worth defending (too much), mildly offensive maybe.

It does not make some sort of broad sweeping generalization about Muslims or any group of people?

It states quite clearly extremists (as in non-mainstream as in the vast minority) as a clarifier and it lists factual events that one can find in any history book. I think that it is self-evident that terrorism in the latter 20th Century can be linked to two things, ethno-nationalist conflicts and religion. Furthurmore the type of suicide terror inflicted on Beslan and the US as well as Israel that is of such magnitude and destruction is part of the modus operandi of Islamist groups. That is deserving of its own thread (at a later time) but not my intention to inflame, simply illustrate a point (in a profoundly dumb way).

The argument is clearly outlined in my last posts and it is as follows.

1) Tollerance Good
2) Religion is Tollerable
3) Extremists Bad hence should not be Tollerated.

I also apologise to anybody offended by those before mentioned points.
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Old 09-08-2004, 04:28 AM   #95
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1) Tollerance Good
2) Religion is Tollerable
3) Extremists Bad hence should not be Tollerated.
I think we all can agree on these points
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Old 09-08-2004, 06:44 AM   #96
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We have been walking a fine line for nearly three years now between addressing the element of Islam that is a real danger to everyone and avoiding making unfair generalizations about Muslims. I think we can all agree that all Muslims are not evil. No one has been foolish enough to even pose that as an argument.

But I think we need room to discuss the "bad element" in Islam and why it continues to exist.
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Old 09-08-2004, 07:41 AM   #97
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I agree with that, but I don't want to start a tradition of allowing jokes to pass for argument in here, particularly those that paint negatively and with a very broad stroke. That's all.

I think we can all, in fact, agree with A_Wanderer's above three points.

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