Alpha (aka Group A) is an FSB special forces counter-terrorism division. Alpha can be likened to USA’s SEAL Team Six, UK’s SAS, and Germany’s KSK. Alpha’s main tasks are counter-terrorism and hostage rescue, and they are trained to accomplish their missions by any means necessary, not limited to the use of chemical weapons (as was done during the theater siege in Moscow)
Alpha was created in 1974, shortly after the Munich massacre, to give the Soviet Union an edge in counter-terrorism defense. On December 27, 1979, 24 soldiers from the Alpha division participated in the assassination of the President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In October of 1985, after four Soviet diplomats were taken hostage by extremists in Lebanon, Alpha operatives embarked on a brutal mission to get them back. After one of the hostages was killed, Alpha members were able to find out the identities of those responsible, captured their family members, and proceeded to cut pieces off their bodies and send them to the extremists. The remaining hostages were released shortly.
On August 20th, 1991, during the Soviet Coup D’etat attempt, Alpha’s commander Vladimir Kryuchkov was ordered to storm the White House and assassinate Boris Yeltsin, among others. Kryuchkov, along with Colonel Beskov of the Vympel Spetsnaz division ended up convincing Gennadiy Ageyev, the general of the KGB at the time, to abort the mission due to the high risk of unnecessary life lose. It is widely believed that had they accepted the mission, they would have succeeded in assassinating Boris Yeltsin.
After the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Alpha continued to participate in high scale operations/conflicts, including the Moscow theater siege, the first and second Chechen campaigns, and the Beslan school hostage crisis. The Alfa are very well trained and equipped, and use both domestic and foreign weapons (such as the Glocks and the AR-15 shown in the pictures above). They even use the Israeli corner-shot weapon system.