The Chechen Bin Laden. Alleged mastermind of the Moscow theater siege — and of Beslan.

I don’t put much stock in anything the Russian government tells us, but for what it’s worth:

Basayev was planning a terrorist attack in southern Russia to coincide with Russia hosting the Group of Eight summit of world leaders this weekend, reports said.

I hate to say it, but I question the timing.

No details on the killing yet. Here’s hoping he suffered.

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Update: Pablo notes below that another top Chechen deputy is dead in an “accident.” Coincidence, or Putin emulating Michael Corleone?

Update: Basayev’s greatest hits.

Update: The plot thickens. Kavkaz Center, Chechnya’s Islamist “news” website, says local authorities are claiming that the accident that killed the deputy might also have killed Basayev:

Earlier there was information about an explosion of a cargo vehicle KAMAZ in village of Ekazhevo, as a result of which 4 Mujahideen were dead.

The representative of Ingush puppet militia has claimed that from 4 dead Mujahideen 3 have been unidentified and one of them is probably Shamil Basayev and also inhabitants of Ingushetia Isa Kushtov and Tarhan Ganijev. The reason of explosion was a careless use of an explosive.

Who’s lying to save face? Putin, who says it was Russian security forces what done it, or the Chechens?

Update: Recently in the news at Kavkaz Center: Basayev thanks Iraqis for elimination of Russian diplomats.

Update: There can’t have been much left of him if he died in a truck bomb explosion, but Russia’s pretty confident they’ve got their man:

The body of Shamil Basayev, who was eliminated during Monday’s special operation in Ingushetia, has been identified, Ingush Deputy Prime Minister Bashir Aushev told Interfax.

“Fragments of the bodies of two militants were found on the scene of the explosion. Basayev’s body has been identified through some of the fragments, including his head,” Aushev said.

Update: More from Interfax: possibly up to ten terrorists killed with Basayev in the explosion. It’s being described as a “carefully planned sweep operation.” Accident or not?

Update: The Times of London thinks this will do major damage to the Chechen jihad. They also say they’ve seen the body:

Shamil Basayev’s death has been announced before but there seems to be no doubt about it this time. The FSB has formally announced it and they have shown brief footage of his body, lying on his back, the right arm bandaged and bloodied. It was recognisably him – he had a thick black beard as he has had since the early 1990s when he first became involved in the Chechen movement.

Update: Gateway Pundit has video of ABC’s interview with Basayev from 2005.