ISLAM, ISLAMISM, AND POLITCS IN EURASIA REPORT (IIPER) 10

Photo russian_mosque

March 9, 2010

By Gordon M. Hahn

Said Abu Saad Buryatskii Killed, March 2, 2010

The Caucasus Emirate’s leading ideologist, operative, and recruiting draw, the imam and Sheikh Said Abu Saad Buryatskii (born Aleksandr Tikhomirov) was killed by Russian forces on the morning of March 2 in the village of Ekazhevo, according to Russian forensic experts of the North Caucasus Military District who carried out tests of the remains of several mujahedin killed at thr time.  [Buryatskii’s personal biography and jihadi activities are detailed in IIPER, Nos. 1 and 5]

Although for several days, despite forensic examinations by the authorities that confirmed one of six mujahedin was in fact Buryatskii, the question remained open.  Not least of all because of Buryatskii’s August 2008 PR escapade in which he arranged a video so that it appeared he had carried out the suicide truck bombing of the Nazran GOVD building that killed 25 and wounded over 260, only for Buryatskii to appear in a video two weeks later.  However, in the early morning of March 6 the Ingushetia Velayat mujahedin’s website Hunafa.com confirmed Buryatskii’s killing.[1]  It was reconfirmed by the command of the Ingushetia Velayat mujahedin on Hunafa.com on March 8.[2]

The details of Buryatskii’s demise comprise a familiar story in the North Caucasus and other fronts in the war against jihadism.  On March 2, Russian security forces were tipped off regarding the location of a large group of mujahedin hiding out in several houses in the village of Ekazhevo, Ingushetia and planning a major terrorist operation that was to have taken place during the visit to the republic of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and North Caucasus Federal District presidential envoy Aleksandr Khloponin Buryatskii.  It was not reported whether they were to be targets of the attack.  Security and police forces closed off a large area around the houses, and in the assault on the terrorists six mujahedin were killed and fifteen were captured.  According to Rossiiskaya gazeta, about half of the captured consisted of former or present members of Ingushetia’s law enforcement bodies.[3]  Later reports put the number of mujahedin killed at 8 and captured at 10.

After the battle ended, law enforcement found Buryatskii’s passport in addition to three IEDs, a grenade launcher, machine gun, Kalashnikov, and 50-litre drum of the kind used in the suicide truck bombing of the Nazran district police station the previous August filled with sodium nitrate.  Forensic experts then confirmed that some of the remains were Buryatskii’s.  Citing law enforcement bodies, the paper provided new information on Buryatskii, according to which, he had visited the North Caucasus as early as the late 1990s and at that time declared his loyalty to the mujahedin and only afterwards traveled to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East to receive a “Wahhabist” education.  It also reported that upon arriving in Ingushetia, he married an Ingush woman.[4]

On March 6, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov told President Dmitrii Medvedev that investigators believe and DNA tests suggested that Buryatskii and the other mujahedin he was killed with were behind November’s Nevsky Express bombing that killed 28 passengers and injured more than 90 others.[5] If accurate, this could mean that operatives and future suicide martyrs were among those killed at Ekazhevo.  As IIPER has documented, Buryatskii was a recruiter, if not the amir of the revived Riyadus-Salikhin martyrs’ brigade.[6]

It is of interest that the CE-affiliated website Kavkaz tsentr potrayed the March 2 events at Ekazhevo as a slaughter of innocent civilians by Russian and local law enforcement organs.[7]  Similarly, when reporting Buryatskii’s martyrdom, Hunafa.com, the website of the Ingushetia Velayat’s mujahedin with whom Buryatskii was deployed, claimed that only 5 mujahedin had been killed at Ekazhevo and that 15 innocent civilians who were neither mujahedin nor their facilitators had been killed or taken into custody by the state security forces and that the homes of the Kartoev, Dobriev, and Aushev families.  The command staff of the G’ialg’aiche (Ingushetia) Velayat mujahedin vowed to avenge this “torture of Muslims” with a “worthy response.”[8]

Hunafa.com was ironically in the midst of a discussion of an article discussing the nature of the future CE when reports began to appear that Buryatskii was one of those killed in Ekazhevo.  One of the discussants asked the site’s administration to provide information.[9]  The administration soon responded with a statement that it could neither deny nor confirm the Russian official reports.  By the next day this statement’s commentary section had over 100 comentaries.  Buryatskii’s popularity among the Ingush and CE mujahedin is readily apparent when reading these comments.[10]

The Hunafa.com article of March 6 that confirmed Buryatskii’s demise attracted within two days 128 commentaries, praising Buryatskii and his martyrdom.[11] The article, written by a frequently published author on Hunafa.com, praised Buryatskii profusely as “a sincere Mulsim, jihadist (mudzhahed), possessor of knowledge, and laborer for the Islamic call” and noted he “will remain forever one of the brightest figures in the history of the Islamic Caucasus.” It also included a warning:

A month, perhaps less, is left until the leaves on the trees will blossom, and if Allah, the all merciful and All-Powerful, wills it they will again hide our brothers going out to fight from the eyes of their enemies.  The past winter in the Caucasus was relatively warm and abundant snowfalls occurred but a couple of times.  On our territory a warm winter, as a rule, forecasts an early spring and hot summer.  God willing, this summer for the infidels will be three times hotter, but the flame of hell, which they consider a fabrication, will be even hotter for them!  God willing, the growth of green will be quick and plentiful this spring, and the infidels will not manage to see as again they will be surrounded bu an impenetrable green shroud threatening death and hell.  God willing, they will answer for everything!

An excellent phenomenon: Winter went warmer than usual in the Caucasus, but in Russia, to the contrary, it was colder than usual.  Green is readying to blossom in the Caucasus, but in Russia the cold caused more than one serious accident in the infrastructure and the harvest on Russian fields probably will not be generous.  Allah, the All-Merciful and All-Powerful, will help us even changing the natural conditions!  And eternal praise to Him!

“You did not kill them, but Allah killed them, and you did not throw when you threw, but Allah threw so as to test the believer with a good test from Him.  Truly, Allah is All-hearing and All-Knowing!” (Koran, sura 8 al-Anfal’)

And Satan is frantic in a powerless rage and is sending forth more and more frenzied cries to his servants in epaulettes.  It seems the infidels strained their infidel heads and sad spirit and managed in such a way to find a way to report about “a brilliant success.”  But it is Allah, the Merciful and Powerful, who sent to them a little luck in order to put them more off the path and to test once more our firmness in faith and to present the gift, finally, to Said and the other brothers that they long dreamed of – a good death on His path.[12]

There followed a series of other articles praising Buryatskii and his jihadi activity.  The first titled ‘Sincerity’ (Iskrennost’) included excerpts from letters Buryatskii had written and that were advertised as being published for the first time.  In one of the excerpted letters, Buryatskii refers to “our Sunzha district.”  The Sunzha district mujahedin appear to have been particularly close to CE amir Umarov, who visited them last summer. The rise of the Ingush mujahedin to prominence within the CE jihad has been an Umarov project, and the deployment of Buryatskii and frequently the revived Riyadus-Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade in the republic was intended to bolster that project.  The main idea repeated throughout the excerpts was Buryatskii’s desire to martyr himself.  He frequently expressed anguish that others were able to commit martyrdom and ‘go to Allah’ but that he was being held back by CE amir Umarov.[13]

This last point was reiterated in the statement made by the command staff of the G’ialg’aiche (Ingushetia) Velayat mujahedin.  One commentator in the discussion following the statement of Ingush mujahedin’s command, who signed as ‘Dzhamaat’ promised he and other mujahedin from Bealrus would join the CE jihad this year.  Another commentator from an Azerbaijani site lauded the fact that numerous condolences had come in from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – testimony to Buryatskii’s popularity among Islamists across the Russian-speaking Muslim world. [14]

Imam and Sheik Said Abu Saad Buryatskii joined the CE jihad in spring 2008 and therefore lasted less than two years.  However, as noted in previous IIPERs (Nos. 2, 3, 7 and 8), these were two rather violent years.  With Buryatskii’s death, the CE’s primary operational season extending from April-May to October-November is likely to be less effective than it otherwise might have been.  The revived Riyadus-Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade and Ingushetia’s mujahedin in particular could be disadvantaged operationally this year as a result of Buryatskii’s demise.  Thus, it will be important to watch whether this year’s spring-fall jihadi campaign can reach the levels of violence and use of suicide bombings that the CE and, in particular, Ingushetia, have attained during the jihadi hunting season in 2008 and 2009.  It cannot be ruled out that Buryatskii’s death could initially give aboost to CE recruitment efforts, but as noted by Umarov himself, the Ce’s main problem is not the flow of recruits but insufficient resources to accept, equip, and deploy them.

Buryatskii’s absence will also influence the CE’s propaganda efforts, as he had eclipsed all others in producing ideological tracts and propaganda appaeals.  His detah means the ideological and theological leadership within the CE reverts by default to CE Shariah Court kadi Anzor Astemirov or Seifullah.  While Seifullah has proven to be an able jihadi theologist, he has not been as effective an ideologist and propagandist as Buryatskii.

In sum, Buryatskii’s end poses a challenge to the CE’s resilience.  When successive presidents and amirs were killed in 2005 and 2006, however, the Caucasus mujahedin were able to meet the challenge of finding new charismatic leaders – the prime example being Buryatskii himself.

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Caucasus Emirate Amir Dokku Abu Usman Umarov Threatens Jihad and Suicide Bombings Across Russia

In mid-February, websites affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate (CE) carried a video and text of an interview with CE amir Dokka Abu Usman Umarov given in January, according to those sites.  Umarov stated that 2009 had been the jihad’s best year since his becoming amir but expressed his regret over the loss of “many mujahedin” in 2009, adding that the fate given by Allah to those who go on jihad is to kill and be killed.  Umarov noted quite accurately that the total number of mujahedin killed in 2009 exceeded the total number of 50 or 100 mujahedin fighting in the North Caucasus claimed by the authorities.

On organization and leadership, Umarov stated his satisfaction with achieving “coordination of all our forces and combat actions” and precise delineation of “the contours of all the territories on which Jihad is proceeding – the velayats of Dagestan, Nokchicho (Chechnya), Gal’gaiche (Ingushetia), and Kabardia, Balkaria, and Karachai.”  Umarov stated that the Majlisul Shura that commands the CE consists of nine amirs, has established good communications, and will resolve the most ‘serious”, “important, strategic questions” when they arise.  Regarding cadres and recruitment, he praised the CE’s establishment of “tight discipline,” a “precise system of accepting new recruits from the enormous flow of those who wish to join our ranks” so as to avoid taking on “an unnecessary excess of new recruits.”   Umarov claimed that Muslims were living in conditions of slavery subordinated to apostates (murtady) put in place by the infidels (kafiry) to rule over them.  These murtady are “far worse” and “farther from Allah” than the kufr, according to the CE amir.  Umarov asserted that the Caucasus’s Muslims, excluded from politics and subjected to “terror”, are awakening as never before, even in comparison with the period of Maskhadov’s leadership and his successor, Sadullaev.

Umarov closed with a warning that the CE and its suicide Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade would carry jihad deep into the Russian heartland:

The zone of combat activities will be broadened on Russia’s territory.  Glory to Allah last year showed us and showed everyone who doubted – Putin, Nurgaliev – that the Riyadus-Salikhin brigade really was recreated and is active.  We are witnesses of how many special operation this group carried out in just one year last year.  The Martyrs’ Birgade is being filled by the best mujahedin, and if Russians do not understand that the war is coming to their streets and the war is coming into their homes, the worse for them.  Blood will no longer be spilt only in our cities and villages.  The war is coming to their cities.  If Russians think that the war is only on the television, somewhere in the far off Caucasus and will not touch them, Allah willing we are preparing to show them that the war is returning to their homes.  Therefore, the zone of combat activity will be broadened to all of Russia’s territory, Allah willing, and I hope that this year, Allah willing and with Allah’s help, successful operations await us.[15]

Days after the video and transcript were posted on CE sites, the FSB uncovered reportedly uncovered a terrorist attack being planned in Volgograd on “Defenders’ Day”, February 23.  They found a car in a parking lot that was being used as a ‘tainik’ (the term used for secret storage sites often found in the mountains of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria).  The tainik contained an electric detonator, three Kalashnikovs with silencers, two Makarov pistols, 183 bullets of various caliber, and “special ammunition.”  All the weapons were combat ready, according to the FSB.[16]

In the commentary that followed Umarov’s interview, jihadist aspirations were expressed for the CE to act not only beyond the borders of the virtual CE but also beyond Russia’s borders.  One Kazakh discussant appealed to the CE to open up a front in Kazakhstan, claiming jihadists there wanted to join up with the CE.[17]  Last year several killed CE mujahedin were found with Kazkhstan passports, and a group of five Kazkahs from eastern Kazakhstan were arrested, tried, and sentenced to prison for attempting to join up with Said Abu Saad Buryatskii and the CE jihad.

_____________________

Footnotes

[1] Abu-t-Tanvir Kavkazskii, “Dvizhiteli dzhikhada,” Hunafa.com, 6 March 2010, 6:06, http://hunafa.com/?p=3227#more-3227.

[2] Informatsionno-analiticheskii otdelshtaba VS VG, “Zayavleni komandovaniya mudzhakhidov vilaiat G’ialg’aiche,” Hunafa.com, 8 March 2010, 9:09, http://hunafa.com/?p=3239.

[3] Alena Larina, “Poslednii spektakl’,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, 5 March 2010, http://www.rg.ru/2010/03/05/said-bur-site.html.  Kavkaz-uzel reported 5 were former or present law enforcement members.  “Sredi zaderzhannykh pri spetsoperatsii v Ingushetii pytero militsionerov,” Kavkaz-uzel, 5 March 2010, 04:20, http://south-osetia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/166187/.

[4] Alena Larina, “Poslednii spektakl’,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, 5 March 2010, http://www.rg.ru/2010/03/05/said-bur-site.html; “Izvestnyi boevik Said Buryatskii unichtozhen v Ingushetii – istochniki,” Izvestia, 4 March 2010, http://www.izvestia.ru/news/news233993.

[5] Nabi Abdullaev, “Rebel Ideologist Killed After Filming Last Sermon,” Moscow Times, 9 March 2010.

[6] Gordon M. Hahn, “Buryatskii, Istishkhad, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Suicide Martyrs’ Battalion,” Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report, No. 5, December 18, 2009, http://www.miis.edu/media/view/19051/original/iiper_5.doc.

[7] “Rodstvenniki ubitykh v Ekazhevo sel’chan zayavlyayut o bessudnoi kazni tseloi sem’i,” Kavkaz tsentr, 4 March 2010, 17:04, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/03/04/71017.shtml and “’Boi  c boevikami’ v Ekazhevo okazalsya karatel’no-terroristicheskoi paspravoi,” Kavkaz tsentr, 3 March 2010, 16:52, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/03/03/70977.shtml.

[8] Abu-t-Tanvir Kavkazskii, “Dvizhiteli dzhikhada,” Hunafa.com, 6 March 2010, 6:06, http://hunafa.com/?p=3227#more-3227 and Informatsionno-analiticheskii otdel shtaba VS VG, “Zayavleni komandovaniya mudzhakhidov vilaiat G’ialg’aiche,” Hunafa.com, 8 March 2010, 9:09, http://hunafa.com/?p=3239.

[9] See Zelimkhan Merdzho, “Zaglyadyvaya vpered,” Hunafa.com, 4 March 2010, 1:01, http://hunafa.com/?p=3187.

[10] “Ot administratsii,” Hunafa.com, 4 March 2010, 11:23, http://hunafa.com/?p=3216#more-3216.

[11] Abu-t-Tanvir Kavkazskii, “Dvizhiteli dhzikhada,” Hunafa.com, 6 March 2010, 6:06, http://hunafa.com/?p=3227.

[12] Abu-t-Tanvir Kavkazskii, “Dvizhiteli dzhikhada,” Hunafa.com, 6 March 2010, 6:06, http://hunafa.com/?p=3227#more-3227.

[13] “Iskrennost’,” Hunafa.com, 7 March 2010, 12:00, http://hunafa.com/?p=3231.

[14] Informatsionno-analiticheskii otdelshtaba VS VG, “Zayavleni komandovaniya mudzhakhidov vilaiat G’ialg’aiche,” Hunafa.com, 8 March 2010, 9:09, http://hunafa.com/?p=3239.

[15] See the text of the video interview in “Interv’yu Amira Imarata Kavkaz – Dokki Abu Usmana, Yanvarya 2010 g.,” Jamaat Shariat, 15 February 2010, 18:04, http://www.jamaatshariat.com/ru/content/view/475/29/#comments; Hunafa.com, 12 February 2010, 9:09, http://hunafa.com/?p=3086; and Kavkaz tsentr, 14 February 2010, 23:40, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/02/14/70668.shtml.

[16] “V Volgograde predotvrashchena popytka terakta,” Kavkaz-uzel, 25 February 2010, 07:05, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/165866/.

[17] “Interv’yu Amira Imarata Kavkaz – Dokki Abu Usmana, Yanvarya 2010 g.,” Jamaat Shariat, 15 February 2010, 18:04, http://www.jamaatshariat.com/ru/content/view/475/29/#comments.

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ABOUT IIPER

Islam, Islamism and politics in Eurasia report (IIPER) is a project of the Monterey Terrorism and Research and Education Program (MonTREP) at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS), Monterey, California.  It focuses on all politically-relevant issues involving or bearing on Islam and ethnic Muslim communities in Russia and Eurasia writ large.  All issues of IIPER can be found at www.miis.edu/academics/researchcenters/terrorism/research/Hahn/IIPER.

IIPER is compiled, edited and, unless indicated otherwise, written by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn.  Dr. Hahn is Senior Researcher at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program and Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California.  He is also a Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group and Analyst/Consultant for Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com.  He teaches courses on both politics and terrorism in Russia and Eurasia at MIIS.  Dr. Hahn is the author of two well-received books, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002) as well as numerous articles on Russian, Eurasian and international politics.

IIPER welcomes submissions of 1,500-6,000 words on any aspect of Islamic politics in Eurasia and financial contributions to support the project.  For related inquiries or to request to be included on IIPER’s mailing list, please contact gordon.hahn@miis.edu or gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net.

Research assistance for IIPER is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, Fabian Sievert, and Daria Ushakova.

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About Gordon M. Hahn