Caucasus Emirate Chechnya Dagestan Global Jihad Global Jihadism Ingushetiya Islam in Russia Islamism Jihadism Kabardino-Balkariya Karachaevo-Cherkessiya North Caucasus Putin Russia

Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report 19

Photo russian_mosque

July 28, 2010 



* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, Fabian Sievert, and Daria Ushakova.



June 2010 saw at least approximately 66 terrorist attacks and jihad-related violent incidents in Russia.  These 66 attacks/incidents have led to approximately at least 28 state agents killed and 40 wounded, 10 civilians killed and 33 wounded.  This brings the  total for the first six months of this year to at least some 213 attacks/incidents, the overwhelming majority of which were attacks initiated by mujahedin.  These 213 attacks/incidents have led to approximately at least 104 state agents killed and 195 wounded, 66 civilians killed and 209 wounded.  It remains unclear whether the May 26th car bomb explosion in Stavropol, which killed 7 and 41 civilians, was a CE operation; neither the mujahedin nor the authorities have thus far claimed so.  According to non-jihadi Russian sources, some 42 mujahedin were killed in June.  According to non-jihadi Russian sources, in the first six months of 2010 Russian security and police forces have killed 173-178, wounded 4-6, and captured 43-51 mujahedin.  Nearly two hundred facilitators have been captured.

The CE continues to show a capacity to carry out operations over a larger geographical area than in recent years.  As noted in IIPER, No. 16, the CE expanded its activity in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya (KBR) to a new level, and that level remains inordinately high as compared to the past.  The unprecedented number of attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria, the March 29th Moscow subway suicide bombings, possibly the first attack in Bashkortostan (March) ever, and possibly the first in many years carried out in Stavropol (May) all demonstrate this.

Ingushetia, which lost its lead within the CE jihad in April 2010 in terms of number of incidents, still places second to Dagestan, with the mujahedin of the former having executed some 54 attacks and incidents to the Dagestanis’ 79 in 2010’s first six months.  The fall off in attacks to some 39 in Chechnya so far this year and the increase in the KBR to some 38 are the most striking changes in the geographic distribution of jihadi operations this year.  Dagestan continues to be most deadly for state agents, with approximately 52 killed there through June of this year compared to some 22 in Chechnya and 17 in Ingushetia.  On the other hand, Ingushetia has seen nearly as many overall casualties among state agents this year, with some 94 (some 17 killed and 77 wounded), approaching Dagestan’s 125 casualties (52 killed and 73 wounded).  The mujahedin in Chechnya have killed 22 state agents, the second largest number of state agents killed in any the four most jihadi-plagued republics; they have wounded 29 state agents this year.  The Dagestani mujahedin have inflicted the most civilian casualties of all the regions in the North Caucasus, if one excludes the Stavropol car bomb attack, killing 12 and wounding 32.  The March 29th Moscow subway suicide bombings remain the single most damaging CE operation, having killed 40 and having wounded 121 civilians.

The month of June saw one successful suicide bombing as compared to three failed attempts in May.  The successful male suicide bomber killed 1 and wounded 5 MVD militia and 2 civilians on June 30th (see IIPER, No. 17).

Comparing the total jihadi terrorist activity for the first six months of 2010 to that of 2009, we find a decline in the approximate number of attacks and jihadi-related violent incidents from 236 in 2009 to 213 in 2010; a fall of 10 percent.  The number of state agents killed has fallen from 173 to 104; those wounded have fallen from 244 to 195.  The numbers of civilians killed and wounded have increased precipitously from some 14 to some 66 and from some 14 to 209, respectively.  Regarding losses among the mujahedin, the number of killed has increased in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year from some 124-150 to 173-178.  The number of wounded mujahedin remains small: approximately five in both six month periods.  The number of captured mujahedin has declined by nearly a factor of two, from 86-100 in the first six months of 2009 to 43-51 in the first half of this year.

Comparing the four most active republics over the last few years, the decline in CE operations has been most precipitous in Ingushetia from 93 attacks/incidents in the first six months of 2009 to 54 in the first six months of this year.  Chechnya saw the next largest fall, from 70 to 39.  Dagestan saw a sharp rise in the number of attacks in the first half od last year as compared to the first half this year, from 61 to 79.  The KBR’s numbers more than triples, from 12 to 38.  Thus there has been a sharp shift in the geographical locus of CE operations from Ingushetia and Cehcnya to Dagestan and the KBR from 2009 to this year.

SOURCES:,,,,,,, and



Despite the loss of their amir (Umalat Magomedov, aka Al-Bara) on New Year’s Eve and their qadi Daud Dzhabrailov last month, the mujahedin of the self-declared CE’s Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV) are brimming with confidence.  They are leading the CE’s vilaiyats in the number of operations carried out and casualties inflicted this year.  A recent posting on their website ‘Jamaat Shariat’ (JS) – a title they use interchangeably with the title Dagestan Vilaiyat and inherited from a local jihadi jamaat established in 2005 by amir Rasul Makasharipov killed in 2006 – exuded confidence.  It asserted that “real power is transferring to the jamaat ‘Shariat’ with the active support of the local Muslim population.”[1]

It claimed four initiatives undertaken to transform life in Dagestan are having their effect.  One is a campaign against game halls.  According to JS, Dagestan’s official authorities undertook its own campaign against game halls in response to the DV’s identical initiative implemented prior to that of the authorities.  A second – the DV’s war against establishments of any kind selling alcohol – is forcing such establishments to cease this activity, according to JS.  In connection with these first two policies, Jamaat Shariat and other CE websites published several DV warnings, and the DV and JS  distributed leaflets across Dagestan in May warning their would be severe consequences for continuing activities that transgress Shariah law.[2]  The web portal of the human rights organization ‘Memorial’, ‘Kavkaz uzel’, reports that JS leaflets were being distributed in Makhachkala and other Dagestani cities containing threats against traders of alocohol and narcotics, fortune tellers, and game hall and sauna owners.  The leaflets, many of which were posted and delivered on May17th, read in part: “The mujahedin of Jamaat ‘Shariat’ have declared war on you and your Satanic business, which you have made on the grief and tears of people, you sew perversion and multiple sins.”  The recipients were warned that they had three days to shut down their ‘illegal’ activities, otherwise, the mujahedin warned: “(W)e will burn down your den, blow up your places where you are busy with sacrilege, and destroy your property, shoot up your stores and casinos, and blow up and shoot up your saunas where you are busy with adultery.”  All Muslims were urged to stop those engaging in such activity and stay away from these kinds of establishments which could be attacked at any minute.[3]  There have been numerous attacks on the kinds of enterprises threatened by the mujahedin over the last few months, but their frequency increased to include at least ten such attacks in Dagestan during the month surrounding the period when Dagestan’s mujahedin issued their warnings.[4] The mujahedin then reported that the locals in Untsukul’ district then pressured such enterprises to close down so as to avoid jihadi attacks.[5]

A third policy facilitating the rise of the mujahedin is its “information war” carried out on JS.  The authorities are again said to be losing this war, as the Internet allows the DV to conduct a direct “dialogue” with the republic’s Muslims, “especially youth,” which is producing “tangible results.”  According to JS, the number of visitors to the site “has grown more than ten fold recently and daily comprises 10 to 15 thousand.” Consequently, Dagestani youth are “studying Shariah law, understanding that on the territory of Dagestan in future only Islamic laws will be in force and the state language will be Arabic.”[6]

The  DV’s fourth policy “seizing the initiative from the puppet authorities” is the collection of the obligatory Islamic tax or zakat.  According to JS, payments of the zakat to the mujahedin and in accordance to the Shariat is creating a resource challenge to the local authorities, whose collection of taxes is “weak and undercollected.”  The DV’s collection of the zakat is showing that “the jamaat has taken on real power, is in a position to conduct its own policy, and meet the needs of Muslims.”[7]  Naturally, the DV and JS are willing to meet the needs only of those Muslims who cooperate with them.  Otherwise, they are willing to mete out severe punishments.  In a revealing ideological tract published on 21 April, the DV mujahedin warned that “(t)hose who today refuse to pay the zakat (Islamic tax) on the order of the mujahedin are sinners.  If they reject the zakat, then they become infidels and their life, blood, and property become are permissible (to take).  In such case, the jizya (Islamic tax on infidels) will be assessed from the infidels, which they must pay with a lowered hand, bowing to the amir.  That is how our ancestral founders (salyafy or salafis) proceeded when they received the jizya from infidels.”[8]  This was likely written by the Dagestan mujahedin’s late qadi Daud who was killed in Kizlyar, Dagestan recently and was praised in a eulogy for his strict enforcement of zakyat payments (see IIPER, No. 17).

The DV and JS essentially claimed that like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, its social policy is creating a parallel state.  A situation of dual sovereignty is developing with power gradually shifting into their hands, claim the DV mujahedin:

The Jamaat ‘Shariat’ has become a real political and military force, which to a great degree determines the situation in the localities, and it has become a force with which it is impossible not to take into account. Many administration heads and officials would rather not come into conflict with representatives of the jamaats, and they help them financially and meet all their demands.  Very many of the population’c complaints against the power structures and officials are dealt with operationally by the local jamaats and this is giving us more supporters.[9]

The population, seeing the decisiveness and strength of the mujahedin, their honesty and allegiance to the Shariat are taking the side of the mujahedin and rendering them assistance.

We are focused on victory and along, serious struggle.  The establishment of Shariah law in Dagestan will go according to plan and will encompass all spheres of life, including:

– the establishment of a complete tax system, built on the zakat;

– the issue of the popularization of the Arab language and Shariah law;

– the Islamic call and the spreading of the call;

– the preparation of Islamic scholars and judges (qadis), who will decide the questions of Muslims according to Islam’s canons;

– issues of the creation of a standing army and law enforcement troops (mukhtasibov);

– issues of the struggle with vices and curing society of social diseases;

– issues of the family and the education of children and Islamic youth;

– issues free entrepreneurialism and economic development;

– the establishment of Islamic financial institutions and banking system.

These and many other issues are in the stage of decision, many are in the beginning stage, and many are still being planned and, Allah willing, will be brought to fruition.

This is seizing of initiative and strategic planning, which is aimed at the fulfillment of a long-term program for the establishment of Shariah law, (while) in no way canceling the jihad or the liquidation of the infidel.[10]

This trend toward discussing the nature of a real future Caucasus Emirate, as opposed to the presently virtual one exists but is somewhat less pronounced on website of the CE’s G’ialg’iache (Ingushetia) Vilaiyat and especially on the website of the United Vilaiyat of Kabardia, Balkaria, and Karachai.  Nevertheless, there is a strong consensus on the Islamist project that the CE’s jihad hopes to make a reality.  The program outlined above by the Dagestani Vilaiyat’s mujahedin is representative of that consensus.



The Dagestani mujahed and the apparent new qadi of the CE’s Dagestan Vilaiyat, Khalid Abu Usama, has produced a 48-minute lecture ‘The Causes of Victory’ for Jamaat Shariat TV; the video was posted on June 15th, 2010 on the Jamaat Shariat website.  Usama lays out the long-term strategy of jihad, beginning with the present stage of defense of the larger Dagestani umma by a small number of mujahedin, the religious and physical preparation of the umma for jihad, which is now obligatory, and finally the establishment of an Islamist, strict Shariah law-based state.  Khalid acknowledged that at present the mujahedin and larger Dagestani umma are too weak to sieze power, and he calls upon Dagestan’s Muslims to stop “discussing jihad behind a cup of tea.”  The mujahedin do not want to “hurry the jihad,” and perhaps his generation will not see the final victory.  Thus, a gradual building up of forces is needed, and he calls upon Muslims to do the maximum they are capable of at this time to support the jihad.  Khalid’s lecture was reminiscent of the deceased Sheik Said Abu Saad Buryatskii’s lectures.[11]  A few days prior another video lecture was posted on Jamaat Shariat by the unidentified qadi of the Central Sector of the Dagestan Vilaiyat titled “An Appeal of the Qadi of the Central Sector of the Vilaiyat Dagestan to Those Who Are Helping the Religion of Allah.”  The qadi is accompanied by ten mujahedin; much of the message is the same as Usama’s.[12]  Thus, it appears the DV’s qadi are playing a growing role among the Dagestani mujahedin or at least in its communications and propaganda strategy.



On June 17th, the CE website ‘Kavkaz tsentr’ published a statement from five radical liberal Russian activists and journalists declaring they “are unconditionally in solidarity with both Magas (the captured Ingush terrorist, the amir of the CE’s Vilaiyat G’ialg’iache, and the military amir of the CE’s ruling Majlisul Shura, Ali Taziev, alias ‘Magas’ and Magomed Yevloev) and the other participants of the Caucasus Resistance.”  Their statement continued: “We consider them to be conducting a just war of liberation.  Correspondingly, Russia is the aggressor and occupier in this war.”  The signatories condemning “Moscow’s Satanic brutality” are: Mikhail Gerasimov (participant of the former Movement for the Deconolonization of the Caucasus and St. Petersburg resident), Pavel Lyuzakov (former prisoner living in Moscow), Yelena Maglevannaya (former Volgagrad journalist living in Finland), Dmitrii Tarasov (from Moscow), and Maria Aleksandrovas (a writer from St. Petersburg).[13]

Maglevannaya left for Finland weeks earlier and has applied for political asylum.  On June 12th, former ‘foreign minister’ of the CE’s predecessor organization Akhmed Zakaev, who lives in London, appealed to the Finnish government and international community to support Maglevannaya’s application.[14]  Zakaev refused to continue supporting the Caucasus jihadists after amir Dokku Abu Usman Umarov declared the Caucasus Emirate in October 2007.



Anzor Astemirov or Seifullah ended his life in the capacity of the amir of the CE’s United Velayat of Kabardia, Balkaria, and Karachai (OVKBK) and perhaps more importantly as qadi or chief judge or magistrate of the CE’s Shariah Court.  The latter position established him as the CE’s de jure chief theologian and, in many ways, its leading ideologist.  In recent years the latter role had been de facto taken by Ingushetia-based mujahed and likely amir of the ‘Riyadus-Salikhin’ Martyrs’ Battalion Said Abu Saad Buryatskii (born Aleksandr Tikhomirov).  Buryatskii’s death at the hands of Russian forces on March 3rd meant that the ideology portfolio would have fallen back by default to Astemirov.  However, on March 24th Astemirov himself was eliminated by Russian security forces.  As a leading Islamist and then CE jihadist, Astemirov was instrumental in Islamism’s gaining its still limited but perhaps strengthening foothold in the North Caucasus, the propogation of the salafist-jihadist theology and ideology across the region, the establishment of jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR), and the formation of a coser relationship between the CE and the global jihadi revolutionary movement.  The following is the first part of three-part article profiling Astemirov’s involvement with the Islamist trend in early post-Soviet Kabardino-Balkaria, his turn to violent jihadism, and his rise to the high ranks of the North Caucasus jihadist network, now self-declared as the Caucasus Emirate.


Seifullah was born Anzor Eldarovich Astemirov in 1976 in the same locality as that of his last known residence – the city of Tyrnyauz in the high mountainous, ski resort district of Elbrus in the KBR.  Astemirov was an ethnic Kabard, one of the sub-ethnic groups that comprises the Circassian nationality or ethnic group. According to one source, his Muslim name was Abu Osman or Abu Usman, which became the jihadi nickname of CE amir Doku Umarov, whose declaration of the CE Astemirov appears to have played perhaps the leading role in.[15]  He received a higher religious education in a madrassah controlled by the Muslim Spiritual Administration (DUM) of the KBR in the republic’s capitol Nalchik.  As one of the leading students he was sent by the DUM to study Islam abroad in a higher education religious school in Saudi Arabia.[16]  This education is likely what set him on the path of fundamentialist Islam, Islamism, and then jihadism.  Astemirov was one of many young Muslims who upon their return to the KBR after study in Arab countries (and Turkey) in the 1990s became amirs in the autonomous Islamist-oriented Jamaat of Kabardino-Balkaria and would later become jihadists.[17]


In the early 1990s Astemirov, back in Russia, along with his close associate Musa Mukozhev, became a student of the late Dagestani salafist teacher Ahmad-Kadi Akhtaev, himself a product of foreign salfist proselytizing.  Mukozhev would play the leading role in almost all of Astemirov’s subsequent Islamist ventures until 2005 when Astemirov superceded his long-time colleague, becoming amir of the combat jamaat ‘Yarmuk’ and then of the KBR Sector of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria’s Caucasus Front.

In 1993 Mukozhev and Astemirov founded the Kabardino-Balkariya Islamic Center that was soon shut down by KBR authorities, suspected of being a center for teaching ‘Wahhabism.’ The Islamic Center was actually a front for a “new Muslims” movement of young self-described Salafists brought together from mosques around the KBR.[18]  When the republic’s authorities closed a large mosque in central Nalchik to build a new central mosque under the KBR DUM’s control and transformed a former movie theater on the outskirts of the city into the Volny Aul Mosque, Mukhozhev became its imam and began criticizing the DUM’s acceptance of state funds to build the central mosque.

In 1998 Mukozhev and Astemirov announced the Initiative Group of the Muslims of the KBR (IGMKB) which called for establishing the Jamaat of the Muslims of the KBR or simply the Jamaat of Kabardino-Balkariya (JKB). The larger JKB was initially based on fourteen Salafist-oriented ‘little jamaats’ tied to mosques located across the KBR and modeled on emerging Chechen jamaats.[19] The outwardly non-violent JKB became the leading autonomous Islamic structure and opposition structure in all the KBR and began to attract Islamist-oriented young Muslims from across the North Caucasus, many of of whom went on to join the Chechen resistance during the first war.[20] The JKB’s ‘young Muslims’ adhered to the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam posed by Mukozhev in opposition to the popular Islam shaped by the customs of the local population. They asserted that Islam in the KBR must start with a clean slate, shorn of its traditional pagan and ‘adat’ elements, and develop an Islamist orientation modeled on the community established by the Prophet Mohammed in Medina.[21] Mukozhev and his followers were highly critical of the KBR’s DUM, its official imams and mullahs.  They also criticized the DUM’s ties to KBR authorities, the practice of accepting believers’ contributions to local imams in return for performing rituals, and local ‘adat’ wedding and funeral customs typically frowned upon by fundamentalists and Islamists. The JKB was run in an authoritarian manner.  Although there was provision for the JKB amir to be replaced and the amir of the JKB’s Nalchik jamaat was replaced several times, Mukozhev was never touched in the position of JKB amir.  Mukozhev, moreover, decided who could speak at meetings of its top decisionmaking body, the Majlisul Shura.  The Shura’s decisions were taken exclusively by Mukozhev, Astemirov, Nakhushev and perhaps a few other local amirs who sat on the central Shura.[22]

The JKB’s non-violent stance was little more than a temporary façade.  Astemirov notes in effect that the JKB was from its founding a sleeper jihadist organization: “From the moment of its formation of the ‘KBR community’ a decision was taken to combine the Call (to Islam) and Jihad, since both one and the other are obligatory for Muslims.  Numerous times it was said at council meetings (majlises) that if Muslims begin armed combat against the non-believers, then this is an obligation for each (Muslim) to help.”[23]  Accordingly, he developed ties to the ChRI Islamist wing during the inter-war period, and JKB members fought for the ChRI during the second war.[24] In 1996, Mukhozhev became one of the leaders of Basaev’s Congress of the People of Ichkeriya and Dagestan (KNID) and formed a shadow government to replace the KBR regime by peaceful means.[25]  The KNID’s leading Dagestani figure was the leader of the radical wing of the Dagestani salafists, Bagautdin Magomedov (Kebedov), who, along with Basaev’s Chechens and Al Qa`ida operative Khattab’s foreign fighters, would lead Dagestani fighters in the August 1999 attack on that republic from bases in Chechnya that kicked off the second war.

With the second Chechen war, the ChRI leadership aggressively began to lobby Mukozhev for support in their efforts during the second war and insurgency to expand their jihad to the entire North Caucasus. In early 2001 KBR MVD chief Khachim Shogenov estimated there already were some 300-400 militant Muslims in the republic, half of whom were in Chechnya where they underwent guerilla warfare training and fought against the Russian army.  Some reportedly fought in a Kabardin branch or unit of the Ichkeriyan armed forces under the command of one Abduldzhabar organized by the notorious Khattab under Basaev’s command.[26]  Reportedly, over 50 returned to the republic after the war.[27]  By mid-2001 Russian security forces reported uncovering Islamists’ plans to seize power by force in both the KBR and KChR.[28] In May 2006, Astemirov admitted that the JKB at that time had in fact been secretly cooperating with the ChRI and preparing indigenous, sleeper combat jamaats in the KBR and KChR.[29]  During the second war’s traditional battlefield phase which ended in early 2002, the JKB developed contacts with one of the KBR’s underground military combat jamaats and endeavored to begin jihadi operations on KBR territory.  However, according to Astemirov, “this attempt ended in failure.  Some brothers were detained by the non-believers, and others were put on the wanted list.  For a time communications with the Chechen mujahedin were cut.”[30]

At the same time, there was a turn by some in the JKB, most notably Astemirov, towards the violent strains of jihadi ideology.  In 2002 Mukozhev and Astemirov established a new Kabardino-Balkariya Institute for Islamic Studies (KBIII) and became its deputy directors.[31] The KBIII’s director was their close associate, businessman and former KGB officer Ruslan Nakushev, who some in the MVD KBR at the time regarded as the republic’s “number one extremist.”[32]  Nakhushev headed a salafist jamaat, the members of which dressed in traditional Islamist garb, wore beards, and, in response to then imminent mosque closures, would peform their namaz openly on the streets of Nalchik.[33]  By 2003-2004, Astemirov and the JKB’s qadi (Shariah law judge) Rasul Kudaev were busy translating and compiling a large archive of salafist writings for the KBIII’s library and website as well as sharing the duties of chairing sessions of the JKB’s shariah court.  The archive held the works of many of the same leading salafist authors that became the staple of Astemirov’s ideological and theological propaganda activity as the CE’s qadi: Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, Sheikh Akhmad Shakir ash-Sharif, Sheikh Abdel-Kadir al-Arnaut, Sheikh Ibn Jibrin, Sheikh Ibn Useimin, Abdur-Razzak al-Badr, Muhammad Salih Al-Munajid, and Sheikh Salih bin Fauzan.  The works they chose to translate first were typically critiques of non-salafist Islamic trends and peaceful salafist organizations, such as traditional Sunnis and Sufism, Hizb ut-Tahrir Islami (HTI), and Al-Habash.[34]

As the popularity of the JKB grew and reports began to appear that Basaev was visiting the republic, KBR authorities, led by the by now ancient communist era party appartchik, President Valerii Kokov, became convinced that Islamist-inspired terrorism was in the offing.  Beginning in summer 2000 the official Muslim clergy as well as law enforcement officials in the KBR began warning of the radical ‘Wahhabist’ presence in the republic.  Over the next few years, the authorities responded to the growing threat in ways that further alienated young rank-and-file Muslims, drove some into the JKB, and drove some JKB members, eventually including Astemirov and then Mukozhev into the violent jihadist combat jamaat ‘Yarmuk.’  In 2003 and 2004, many mosques in the KBR were closed.[35]  Salafi-dressed and beared Muslim young men and women were harassed and detained.  Local Islamic leaders also complained of growing oppression in the KBR, and under Nakhushev’s and Astemirov’s direction studies were published studies exposing such abuses. [36] The KBR’s MVD began issuing lists of suspected Islamists and began security sweeps of mosques during Friday prayers in which on occasion over a hundred were detained. Astemirov, Mukozhev, Nakhushev and other JKB members were frequently detained, threatened and sometimes beaten by law enforcement personnel.[37]  In 2001, Astemirov and Mukozhev were held for three months in connection with terrorist attacks in Stavropol and the KChR.[38]  As Aleksandr Zhukov notes, if earlier such charges appeared to be fabricated by Russian law enforcement, then now this is not so clear given the Astemirov’s revelations cited extensively herein.[39]

Pressure from the ChRI for fighters, including recruitment visits to the republic by Basaev in 2003, and pressure from the KBR authorities to cease and desist from proselytizing Islamism and jihadism led to disagreement within the JKB between those who favored initiating jihad in the KBR and those who favored continuing the policy of providing covert support for the ChRI.  Mukozhev apparently held to the latter view until early 2005 (see below).[40]  By 2003-04, amir Mukozhev and his naibs Astemirov and Nakhushev were leading some 40 Islamic communities encompassing several thousand members across the KBR.[41] Therefore, the JKB was certainly capable of funneling indigenous cadres to the ChRI’s expanding network of combat jamaats.  However, until summer 2005 Mukozhev was careful not to materially support the ChRI openly and remained reluctant to declare jihad in the KBR. In the KBR, however, the JKB functioned as the political arm for those fighters, many of whom would return to fight in the KBR later under the Islamic Combat Jamaat ‘Yarmuk’.

Although Astemirov did not join the jihad until early to mid-2004, he was clearly moving towards open jihad in the KBR and KChR much earlier.[42] Accordingly, during the period 2003-2005 the JKB began to radicalize, indeed jihadize. According to Astemirov, “having realized the mistakenness of its activity and having decided to correct their mistakes, the community’s leaders began to change the structure of the jamaat, gradually making it a military organization as it was at the beginning of its formation.”  In addition, “combat groups were created in which explanatory work and military training was carried out.”[43]  Also, according to Astemirov, the JKB did render support to the ChRI during the second war by secretly providing young Muslims to the fight alongside the Chechnya-based mujahedin and ChRI-affiliated combat jamaats in the Karachai-Cherkessia Republic (KChR) while preparing “underground combat jamaats” for the future jihad in the KBR and KChR.[44]  In a September 2006 letter, Mukozhev acknowledged that many amirs of JKB’s little jamaats “participated for many years in the war against the infidels, organized the mujahedin’s rear logistics, worked to heal the wounded, and took part in combat operations.”  This was done to give the other rank-and-file “brothers time to take classes and be enlightened” before attempting jihad in the KBR.[45]  During this period, the radicalizing JKB even produced at least one global jihadist, who was a close friend of Astemirov and ended up at Guantanamo for fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.[46]

Given the accelerating jihadization of the ChRI, the JKB and Astemirov himself, along with the desparate plight of the ChRI’s battle with Moscow by mid-2004, it is not surprising that Astemirov decided to abandon the JKB at that time and join the jihad.



[1] “Perekhvat initsiativy,” Jamaat Shariat, 2 June 2010, 03:29,–/834-2010-06-02-03-05-02.html.

[2] See “Preduprezhdenie,” Jamaat Shariat, 13 May 2010, 11:07,; “Vilaiyat Dagestan: Dagestanski modzhakhedy vnov’ predupredili bladel’tsev pritonov,” Kavkaz tsentr, 17 May 2010, 12:52,; and the sermon “Propoved’ dlya zhitelei Charodinskogo i Levashinskogo Raionov: O zepretnosti Vina,” Jamaat Shariat, 21 May 2010, 06:51,–&catid=32&Itemid=57.

[3] “V Dagestane rasprostranyayutsya listovki c ugrozami v adres torgovtsev alkogolem i narkotikami,” Kavkaz uzel, 18 May 2010, 04:40,

[4] “V Makhachkale u vkhoda v apteku vzorvalas’ bomba,” Kavkaz uzel, 25 May 2010, 12:34,; “V Dagestane v rezul’tate obstrela kafe pogib chelovek, esho odin ranen,” Kavkaz uzel, 31 May 2010, 12:10,; “V Khazavyurte prozoshol vzryv v kafe,” Kavkaz uzel, 1 June 2010, 02:28,; “V Dagestane obstrelyan magazine, ranena prodavshchitsa,” Kavkaz uzel, 2 June 2010, 07:35,; “V Dagestane obstrelyan pivnoi bar, postradavshikh net,” Kavkaz uzel, 3 June 2010, 16:24,; “Vilaiyat Dagestan: V sele Untsukul’ sozhzheny tochki torgovli spirtnym i zdanie sel’skoi administratsii,” Kavkaz tsentr, 5 June 2010, 17:47,; “V Dagestane ubit khozain gastronom,” Kavkaz uzel, 9 June 2010, 21:44,; “V Makhachkale neizvestnyie brosili granatu v pivnoi bar,” Kavkaz uzel, 12 June 2010, 01:35,; and “Pri vzryve v stolitse Dagestana postradali tri cheloveka,” Kavkaz uzel, 13 June 2010, 08:55,

[5] “Vilaiyat Dagestan: Zhiteli Untsukul’skogo raiona vydvinuli ul’timatum torgovtsam spirtnym,” Kavkaz tsentr, 12 June 2010, 01:06,

[6] “Perekhvat initsiativy”.

[7] “Perekhvat initsiativy”.

[8] “Propoved’ dlya musul’man Imarata Kavkaz: Obyasatel’nost’ zakyata,” Jamaat Shariat, 21 April 2010, 11:24.–/690-2010-06-05-23-22-07.html.

[9] “Perekhvat initsiativy”.

[10] “Perekhvat initsiativy”.

[11] “Dzhamaat ‘Shariat’. Khalid Abu Usama: Prichina Pobedy,” Jamaat Shariat, 15 June 2010,, accessed 15 June 2010.

[12] “Obrashchenie K”adiya Tsentral’nogo Sektora Vilaiyata Dagestan k tem, kto pomogaet religii Allakha,” Jamaat Shariat,, accessed 15 June 2010.

[13] “O plenenii amira Magasa,” Kavkaz tsentr, 17 June 2010, 11:37,

[14] “Akmed Zakaev’s Petition for Journalist Yelena Maglevannaya,” Chechen Press, 12 June 2010,

[15] A. Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe, Legal Defense Center ‘Memorial’,, accessed 28 October 2008,, Appendix 9.

[16] Olga Bobrova, “Imarat Kavkaz: Gosudarstvo kotorogo net,” Novaya gazeta, No. 27, 17 March 2010, and Oleg Guseinov, “Stroite’stvo khrama Marii Magdaliny priostanovlena iz-za otsutsviya sredstv,” Gazeta yuga, 21 April 2005,

[17] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[18] See the letter of Astemirov-Seifullah, who at the time was amir of the then ChRI North Caucasus Front’s KBR sector in “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 29 May 2006, 03:34 and 30 May 2006, 04:34,  See also Aleksandr Zhukov, “Religioznyi raskol i politicheskoe reshenie,”, 18 May 2006, 08:25,

[19] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’” and Aleksandr Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe, Legal Defense Center ‘Memorial’, Kavkaz uzel, October 2008, accessed last 23 April 2010,

[20] See, for example, “Mufti Severnoi Osetii: ‘Ya mechtal otdat’ zhizn’ radi Allakha’,” Regnum, 2 May 2010, 10:16, and Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[21] Mikhail Roshchin, “The History of Islam in Kabardino-Balkaria,”  The Jamestown Foundation Chechnya Weekly, Vol. 6, No. 46, 8 December 2005,

[22] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe tak i porazhenie’” and Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[23] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’.”

[24] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’.”

[25] Roshchin, “The History of Islam in Kabardno-Balkaria,” citing Michael Burdo and Sergei Filatov, eds., Islam in Kabardino-Balkaria Modern Religious Life in Russia, Vol. 3, 2005, pp. 183 and185.

[26] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’;” “Vakhkhabizm – eto otritsanie narodnykh obychaev. Otvet mufti KBR Shafiga Pshikhacheva na zayavlenie predstavitelei ‘musulmanksikh dzhamaatov’,” Severnyi Kavkaz, No.6 (512), February 2001; and Kobishchanov, “Muslul’mane Rossii, korennye rossiiskie musul’mane i russkie-musli’mane,” pp. 257-59.

[27] Timur Samedov, “Nad Nalchikom navisla ‘oranzhevaya revolyutsiya,” Kommersant Daily, 20 August 2004, p. 3.

[28] Federal prosecutors’ investigation into the March 2001 car bomb explosions in Mineralnye Vody, Yessentuki, and the KChR and the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk that helped spark the second Chechen war led to the arrests of 11 alleged Islamic militants and reportedly uncovered a radical Islamist network that the federal Prosecutor-General’s office stated was planning armed seizures of power in both republics. Timofei Borisov, “Pervorot gotovili amiry,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, 18 August 2001, p. 1 and RFERL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 156, 17 August 2001. Newspapers reported that senior security officials in the republics, however, had claimed they had no idea to what the statement referred. See Izvestiya and Nezavisimaya gazeta on 17 August 2001 cited in RFERL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 156, 17 August 2001.

[29] “Amir Seifullakh: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’.”

[30] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’.”

[31] See the interview with Igor Dobaev, “Pro vakhkhabitov i ne tolko,”, 23 December 2004, and Oleg Guseinov, “Narkontrol’ sdali byvshie sotrudniki,” Gazeta yuga, 28 April 2005, http://www.gazetayuga. ru/archive/2005/17.htm.

[32] Alexander Raskin and Sergei Kuklev, “Chechnya Metastasis,” Newsweek Russia, No. 1, 14 January 2005.

[33] “V MVD KBR nedoumevayut, pochemu musul’mane prodolzhayut molit’sya u zakrytoi mecheti,”, 27 April 2005, and Raskin and Kuklev, “Chechnya Metastasis”.

[34] Indeed, the JKB appears to have worked actively to block the relatively moderate HTI’s efforts to exand into the KBR. Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[35] NTV’s Namedni Program and Gazeta, July 19 2004 cited in “Martial Law Declared in Kabardino-Balkaria,” The Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vol. 1, Issue 63, 30 July 2004.

[36] R. B. Nakhushev, “O pravovom polozhenii musul’man v Kabardino-Balkarii,” IslaminKBR. ru, 5 April 2005, and Zhukov, “Religioznyi raskol i politicheskoe reshenie.”

[37] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe and Nakhushev, “O pravovom polozhenii musul’man v Kabardino-Balkarii.”

[38] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[39] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’” and “Amir Seifulla o protsesse podgotovki k provoglasheniyu Kavkazskogo Emirata,” Kavkaz tsentr, 20 November 2007, 23:15,

[40] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[41] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe. One source suggests the JKB could have had as many as 10,000 well-organized followers. Fatima Tlisova, “Kabardino-Balkariya Fears Spread of Terror,” IWPR’S Caucasus Reporting Service, No. 255, 29 September 2004.  Chief of the KBR MVD’s Religious Extremism Department, Beslan Mukhozhev, cited figures in October 2005 of 1,500-2,000 members spread across some 20 affiliated jamaats covering every district in the republic. Andrei Alekseyev, “’Est’ dannyie o svyazi dzhamaata s Basaevym’,” Kommersant Vlast, No. 39, 3 October 2005,

[42] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’” and Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[43] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’” and Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[44] “Amir Seifullah: ‘Pobeda ot Allakha, tak zhe kak i porazhenie’” and Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.

[45] “Musa Mukozhev: ‘Vyidya na Dzhikhad, my obreli nastoyashchuyu svobodu’,” Kavkaz tsentr, 23 September 2006, 16:15,

[46] Zhukov, Kabardino-Balkariya: Na puti k katastrofe.  This was Ruslan Odizhev (in some sources Odigov), who was detained by Russian security forces in 2000, accused of supporting the Chechen rebellion, and allegedly abused physically for two weeks before being released.  He then absconded to Afghanistan­ where, after initially being distrusted by the Taliban, he was captured by the Northern Alliance, though he insists he was not involved in fighting. Back in the KBR after Guantanamo, Odizhev complained that he and other supporters of Mukozhev were on the authorities’ extremist list.  RFERL Newsline, Vol. 7, No. 60, 28 March 2003; RFERL Russian Federation Report, Vol. 4, No. 14, 17 April 2002; and “Russia’s ‘Taliban’ Faces Uneasy Future after Guantanamo Torment,” AFP, 1 August 2004.



The Monterey Institute for International Studies has recently opted to combine its very popular and highly regarded M.A. International Policy Studies degree specializations in Terrorism Studies and Nonproliferation Studies into a combined new M.A. Program in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, a program that will now have an even higher profile and greater institutional autonomy. Apart from combining two of the Institute’s strongest academic programs, this will ensure that students take the introductory courses in both subjects but will also allow them to concentrate primarily on either terrorism or nonproliferation (or, if they prefer, to focus on both subjects equally, e.g., on CBRN terrorism). As you may already know, our students have an exceptionally high success rate getting jobs in these specialized fields.

The Institute is also introducing a new one-semester (or one-year) Certificate in Terrorism Studies for professionals or students who wish to obtain specialized academic training in this subject without spending an entire two years in residence. Prospective students can be admitted into this Certificate Program without meeting the somewhat stringent language requirements that regular students must meet.

If you know of any students or professionals who might find this new program of particular interest, or who wish to obtain outstanding preparation for careers in these fields, or who wish to obtain further specialized training before going on to obtain a doctorate, it would be very much appreciated if let them know about our new program.



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

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,  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 or

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

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Gordon Hahn

Senior Researcher and WMD Terrorism Database Manager

Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP)

460 Pierce Street

Monterey, CA – 93940 USA

Tel: (831) 647-3535 Fax: (831) 647-6522


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