Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Russia, U.S. lawmakers assail radical Islam

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, left, Rep. Steve Cohen, center, and actor Steven Seagal mill about after a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Sunday.

Associated Press

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, left, Rep. Steve Cohen, center, and actor Steven Seagal mill about after a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Sunday.

MOSCOW — Russia has an enthusiastic and perhaps unlikely friend in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican leader of a congressional delegation that traveled here, who said Sunday that radical Islam has both the United States and Russia "by the throat" and the two countries had better learn to cooperate.

"The fact is, we face the same major challenges," said Rohrabacher, a Californian who chairs the House subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and emerging threats, and who brought House members here for nearly a week of meetings on the theme of Islamist terrorism, with a little fear-of-China thrown in.

Spurred by the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, the delegation's members met with the hard-line deputy prime minister, Dmitri Rogozin, and with top officials of Russia's security service, the FSB, and then made a quick trip engineered by action-movie star Steven Seagal, who has a following in Russia, to Beslan, site of a 2004 school massacre that left more than 380 dead.

At a briefing by the FSB, they were told about the agency's efforts to warn U.S. authorities about bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who the agency said harbored extremist views. Tsarnaev visited Russia's Dagestan republic last year for six months.

At a Sunday news conference, Rohrabacher and another Republican, U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, fully endorsed the long-held Russian argument that Russia, Europe and America face a common enemy: radical Islam.

King said the United States should study the FSB's antiterror tactics and adopt those that work. He lamented that Russia seems to have a better intelligence operation in Boston than the United States does in the North Caucasus.

Republicans have not always been so inclined toward Russia. Last year the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, called Russia America's No. 1 geopolitical adversary. "That was an absurd statement," Rohrabacher said Sunday.

Rohrabacher once worked as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, who called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Now he thinks Russia and the United States, jointly facing religious terrorism, also have an antagonist in common in China — an argument that would find few adherents among Russian foreign policy experts.

Seagal, dressed in black and sporting a deep tan, said he arranged the Saturday trip to Beslan, in North Ossetia. Members of the group laid wreaths at the cemetery and the school gym, said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and were treated to a "sumptuous" lunch. Then they returned to Moscow.

The Republicans said they wanted to take up Seagal's offer of a trip to Chechnya, to meet with leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has eradicated his Islamist opponents and brought stability to the once war-torn region. Seagal — who said, "I consider myself an antiterrorist" — dismissed complaints about the murder and mayhem Kadyrov has been accused of.

"I'm friends with many presidents of many countries," he said, "and there are rumors about all of them."

Cohen said he wouldn't have gone to Chechnya because of Kadyrov's human rights record.

"We are at war against radical Islamic terrorists," retorted King. "Anyone who eliminates our enemies, that saves lives."

In Russia, U.S. lawmakers assail radical Islam 06/02/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 2, 2013 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  2. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  3. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  4. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Jones: What Bucs need in final preseason games, more or less


    That's it. Let's start the season. Start it right now.

    Tom Jones wants to see less of Jameis Winston playing hot potato with the football and throwing it up for anyone to catch. [Getty Images]