Caucasus Emirate Central Asia Islamism Jihadism Russia

Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) 48

Photo russian_mosque

12 December 2011

Gordon M. Hahn, Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies 




CENTRAL ASIA by Yelena Altman and Gordon M. Hahn


* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Yelena Altman, Sara Amstutz, Mark Archibald, Michelle Enriquez, Seth Gray, John Andrew Jones, Casey Mahoney, Anna Nevo, Daniel Painter, and Elizabeth Wolcott.  IIPER accepts outside submissions.



CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov issued a video statement posted on the CE’s main website Kavkaz tsentr on 20 November 2011 in which he issued a warning to the government and authorities of Turkey. His message was against the alleged use of Turkish territory by the Russian secret police for killing Chechen and presumably Caucasus amirs and mujahedin located there in exile or to receive medical treatment presumably after being wounded fighting for the CE jihad. Referring to the “recent sad events” on Turkish territory after a series of murders involving Chechens as victims and likely as perpetrators, Umarov warned “the people of Turkey, our brothers, the Muslims of Turkey, Turkey’s special services, bureaucrats, President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister of Turkey Rejep Erdogan” to stop allowing diplomatic pouches and its tourist and construction businesses to be used by infidels and Russia to kill Chechens undergoing medical treatment or otherwise present in Turkey.[1]

Oddly, Umarov appealed to the increasingly Islamist, though still secular, Turkish authorities on the basis of their common religion of Islam. However, he also seemed to issue a perhaps veiled warning by saying: “I appeal to the entire Turkish people and the government of Turkey and remind you that no one has yet managed to avoid death. Each person will stand before Allah and each will taste death, which fully closes our life’s diary. The fact that we will stand before Allah requires sincerity for Allah’s sake, and an obligation to protect our (Muslim) brothers lies on each of us. If you allow unclean ones and slave-murderers to walk around freely in your country and kill your brothers, (then) you will answer before the All-High both in this life and in the future eternal life … Therefore, I once more appeal and call upon you to undertake measures so that these unclean ones no longer take the lives of your Muslim brothers from the Caucasus. If you are not in a position to undertake such measures, then, Allah willing and with the help of Allah, we ourselves will undertake the necessary measures, and there cannot be any doubt!”[2] In a subsequent posting, Kavkaz tsentr rejected assertions that this was a threat made to Turkey, saying that it was a threat made against Russia.[3]

Readers will recall that Turkey is home to a large North Caucasus diaspora, including Circassian and Chechen diasporas, as well as refugees, including, as Umarov acknowledges, former mujahedin undergoing medical care. Recently, the Chechen community in Turkey has been the milieu in which a series of apparent contract killings have occurred. In September, for example, three Chechens were killed in Istanbul. One of those reported as killed was amir ‘Khamzat’ Berg-khazh Musaev, a reportedly close associate of Umarov. Musaev had been in Turkey for a year to a year and a half undergoing medical treatment for a hand wound he received fighting under the CE.[4] However, the report of Musaev’s demise turned out to be apparently erroneous (see below).

More recently, on October 8th, there was an attempted assassination of the head of the Shariah Court of the CE’s predecessor organization, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya (ChRI). The remnants of ChRI are currently living in exile in places like Turkey, London, and Washington. Shamsuddin Batukaev was saved by his bodyguards who heard strange noises from a bathroom where a visitor, identified as Bahram Batumaev, was assembling his weapon. Batumaev was said to have been part of a group under the leadership of Turkish-based Uvais Akhmadov, who was said to have planned the assassination attempt. He and other members of his group were arrested the next day.[5]

Batukaev was also the head of the CE’s foreign representation office, its de facto foreign minister, until he was removed from that post when the foreign office was effectively abolished by Umarov in 2008. Batukaev thus effectively succeeded Akhmed Zakaev, who refused to join the CE after Umarov formed it in October 2007 and abolished the ChRI, for which Zakaev served as foreign minister.

According to Kavkaz tsentr, Akhmadov, Zakaev’s envoy to Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, was hired by Zakaev to arrange the assassination of Batukaev.[6] It is well known that in 2008 Kadyrov and Zakaev were negotiating Zakaev’s return to Chechnya from his exile in London but that the negotiations broke down for unknown reasons. The CE’s first qadi and amir of its United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya, and Karachai (OVKBK), the late ‘Seifullah’ Anzor Astemirov, issued a death fatwa against Zakaev.

However, it remains unclear whether Zakaev and/or Kadyrov and the Russian government hired Akhmadov, whether the CE sought Batukaev’s elimination, or whether the attempted assassination was a settling of accounts between Ahkmadov and Batukaev. Similarly, it remains unclear who ordered or perpetrated many of the other killings occurring abroad and in Moscow within the foreign and domestic Chechen diasporas.


In CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov’s message to the Turkish government discussed above, he is seen sitting with amir ‘Khamzat.’ Umarov, in his capacity as CE amir, appears to name Khamzat as his naib during the message. At the end of his statement, Umarov says: “Next to me is my naib Khamzat, and the infidels are spreading rumors that he was killed in Turkey.”[7]

As I have reported previously, one ‘Khamzat’, presumably amir ‘Khamzat’ Aslan Butyukaev, has been identified as the CE’s military amir, the amir of the CE’s chief suicide bombers’ jamaaat, the Riyadus-Salikhiin Martyrs’ Brigade (RSMB), and the naib of the CE’s Chechnya network, the Nokchicho Vilaiayat (NV), of which Umarov is amir. As such, Butyukaev already seemed positioned to be a possible successor to Umarov. Umarov’s reference to amir ‘Khamzat’ as his naib, without the stipulation that he is his naib as NV amir not as CE amir, could mean that Khamzat is now CE naib and even Umarov’s designated successor. No omra (decree) has been issued to this effect as yet, and it would be unusual and possibly offensive to some within the CE to find out about this appointment in such an offhand way without an accompanying decree.

This is especially true for the amirs and mujahedin of the CE’s Dagestani network, the Dagaestan Vilaiyat (DV). The DV now spearheads the CE jihad, carrying out more than half of the CE’s operations despite being but one of four active vilaiyats in the CE network. This would seem to recommend that one of the DV’s amirs succeed Umarov. However, the sudden appearance of a Chechen as Umarov’s naib and possible successor would likely create tensions within the CE between the DV, on the one hand, and Umarov and the NV, on the other. The recently patched up split that occurred within the CE last year, when most of the NV’s amirs renounced their bayats to Umarov, may have been precipitated in part by competition over resources and power among the vilaiyats, in particular the NV versus the DV, the Ingushetiya network Galgaiche Vilaiyat (GV), and the United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya, and Karachai (OVKBK). It should also be remembered that there considerable tensions and competition between Avar and Chechen amirs during the 19th century ‘Great Gazavat’ or holy war against the colonial conquest by Imperial Russia.

However, the Khamzat in the video may not be Aslan Butyukaev but rather amir ‘Khamzat’ Berg-khazh Musaev who was reportedly shot in Turkey in September but apparently mistakenly identified, according to Umarov. The facial features of Butyukaev and Musaev are very similar, but Butyukaev appears as the older of the two. Thus, Butyukaev may be the RSMB amir and CE military amir, but it is Musaev who is NV and possibly CE naib. Musaev is also an ethnic Chechen, however, so if he has become CE naib the noted political problem would remain.

Thus, the CE top leadership appears to be as follows, correcting IIPER, No. 45 (changes in red italicized font):


Caucasus Emirate (CE) Amir – Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov.

CE Amir’s Naib – unknown [‘Khmazat’ Berg-Khazh Musaev or Khamzat Aslan Butyukaev?]

CE Shariah Court Supreme Qadi – Ali Abu Mukhammad al-Dagistani (Dagestan Vilaiyat).

CE Military Amir – ‘Khamzat’ Aslan Byutukaev.

MADZHLISUL SHURA: Ex Officio Members (adapted from Umarov’s 12 May 2009 Omra).

– CE and Nokchicho Vilaiyat (NV, Chechnya) Amir – Dokku Abu Usman Umarov.

– CE Naib – unknown.

– Qadi of the CE Shariah Court – Ali Abu Mukhammad ad-Dagistani.

CE Military Amir and Riyadus Salikhiin Martyrs Brigade amir– ‘Khamzat’ Aslan Byutukaev.

– Dagestan Vilaiyat amir/vali – ‘Salikh’ Ibragimkhalil Daudov.

– NV naib for the NV Western Front – Berg-Khazh Musaev.

– NV naib for the NV Eastern Front – ‘Mansur’ Hussein Gakaev.

– G’ialg’aiche Vilaiyat (Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya) amir/vali – Adam Ganishev.

OVKBK amir/vali – ‘Ubaid’ Alim Zankishev.


Nokchicho (Chechnya) Vilaiyat (NV)

Amir/Vali – CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov

Naib – ‘Khamzat’ Berg-Khazh Musaev

Naib – Hussein Gakaev

Qadi – unknown.

Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV)

Amir/Vali – ‘Salikh’ Ibragimkhalil Daudov

First Naib – Abu Mukhammad (simultaneously amir of the DV’s Central Sector)

Qadi – Sheikh Muhammad Abu Usman Al-Gimravii (simultaneously amir of the DV’s Mountain Sector)

G’ialg’aiche (Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya) Vilaiyat (GV)

Amir/Vali – Adam Ganishev.

Naib – unknown.

Qadi – Abu Dudzhan

United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya & Karachai (OVKBK)

Amir/Vali – ‘Ubaid’ Alim Zankishev

Naib – unknown.

Qadi – unknown.



In 2008, newly elected Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev replaced the notoriously unpopular president of Ingushetiya Murat Zyazikov with the ethnic Ingush former GRU officer Yunus-bek Yevkurov. At the time, the Caucasus Emirate’s network in the Republic of Ingushetiya, the so-called Galgaiche Vilaiyat (GV), was emerging as the most active front in the CE’s jihad. It would lead all the CE’s vilaiyats and Russian republics in the number of insurgent and terrorist attacks in both 2008 and 2009. In part, this was a consequence of the rather brutal and ineffective rule of Yevkurov’s predecessor, former FSB officer Zyazikov. Ingushetiya had seen abductions skyrocket, which many suspected Zyazikov’s cousin, who headed the security forces, of organizing. The final straw for Zyazikov came when Ingushetiya’s top opposition leader Magomed Yevloyev was shot. The incident occurred while Yevloyev was in the custody of the Ingushetiya’s MVD chief after arguing with Zyazikov on a plane flight they both took back to the republic in August 2008. Yevkurov’s softer policies, though surely not the sole reason for the decline of the GV beginning in April 2010, deserve much of the credit. However, it also appears that the GV’s rise to the forefront of the CE jihad in 2008-2009 may have been somewhat of an artificial phenomenon, sparked by CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov’s policy of forcibly expanding the jihad to the republic of his Chechens’ fraternal Vainakh people, the Ingush, by devoting key resources to the republic. Most notable of those resources may have been Umarov’s deployment of the young charismatic ethnic Russian-Buryat Islamic convert Sheik Said Abu Saad Buryatskii. 

Yevkurov’s and Medvedev’s New COIN Policies

Yevkurov’s policy consisted of at least four elements: (1) reaching out to, and including opposition elements in the Ingushetia government; (2) securing greater federal subsidies for the republic; (3) an amnesty and assimilation process for mujahedin; and (4) greater emphasis on the capture rather than killing of mujahedin. Upon assuming office in 2008, he reached out to the nationalist and democratic opposition by offering them positions in his government and created an advisory body of civil society and opposition organizations. Increased social expenditures and economic investment plus Yevkurov’s struggle against corruption and clean bookkeeping is improving the situation, albeit slowly. In his first annual presidential address to Russia’s Federal Assembly in November 2009, President Dmitrii Medvedev called the North Caucasus Russia’s “most serious domestic political problem.” He then announced a federal program to invest 800 billion rubles in Ingushetia, which since summer 2007 had been the center of gravity of the jihad, with the largest number of CE attacks of any North Caucasus region.[8] The federal assistance program for Ingushetiya has made it the most highly subsidized region in Russia since 2009, with 91% of the republic’s budget being federally funded. From 2008 to 2010 expenditures increased for sectors crucial to socioeconomic development and jobs: by 282% for housing, 110% for economic development, 103% for education, with slightly lower increases for state agency expenditures, culture, health and sport.[9] Increased federal subsidies were complimented by Yevkurov’s anti-corruption campaign, the most aggressive in the North Caucasus. These federal and regional policies have allowed Ingushetia to double its revenues from R810 million in 2008 to R1.744 billion in 2010![10]

Yevkurov has offered amnesty to jihadi fighters and initiated programs to aggressively persuade young Muslims out of joining and into leaving the jihad by working with families, councils of village elders, and clan councils.[11] According to Yevkurov, 16 mujahedin were convinced to turn themselves in during 2009, followed by another 36 in 2010, leaving only 15 mujahedin active in the republic by the beginning of 2011.[12] In some cases, the courts applied no punishment to those who surrendered, and many were provided work or education.[13] Buryatskii targeted Yevkurov in a car bomb assassination attempt in June 2009 that left the Ingush president severely wounded. Nevertheless, despite needing several months of rehabilitation, Yevkurov returned to work within two months. He publicly forgave his attackers and continued to work with families of mujahedin to convince them to leave the jihad. In February 2010, Yevkurov reiterated that the cornerstone of his anti-jihadism policy of “showing good will towards those who have deviated from the law” by offering an amnesty of sorts. He promised that if mujahedin turned themselves in, they would receive soft sentences and would be eased back into society: “Today a unique opportunity has been created, and a chance to become a fully engaged citizen of society included in the process of the economic rebirth of our Ingushetia, applying your strength and knowledge in creative places of work and showing yourselves favorably in any of the spheres of social and public political life, is still being preserved for each of you (mujahedin).”[14] In March 2010, Yevkurov met with the relatives of those who had sheltered the notorious Inguahetiya-based Sheik Said Abu Saad Buryatskii (born Aleksandr Tikhomirov), who was killed on March 2nd along with several other mujahedin who were planning a major terrorist attack in Ingushetia. Yevkurov told these families and, by extension, all Ingushetia’s families, that the authorities would continue his policy of trying to persuade mujahedin to abandon jihad, but that the security infrastructure would go into action for those who could not be persuaded.[15] Similarly, Yevkurov has led in reducing violent outcomes of the notoriously violent Caucasus tradition of blood feuds that contribute to both jihadi and non-jihadi violence in the region. In a two-year period, the Ingush authorities reconciled 150 families, according to Yevkurov, in part by raising the ransom for resolving them from R100 thousand to R1 million.[16]

Whether it is primarily a federal or regional policy, the greater emphasis on capturing rather than killing mujahedin seems to have played a role in the success of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism in Ingushetiya. On June 9, 2010, the FSB managed for the first time to capture rather than kill a major CE amir, the CE’s military amir and the CE GV’s amir and vali ‘Magas’ Ali Taziyev (aka Akhmed Yevloyev). His capture likely led to actionable intelligence that has produced the increasing number of CE amirs killed following his capture. Similarly, the capture of some 12 mujahedin in Ingushetiya, including GV amir Yusup Dzangiev, allegedly involved in the November 2010 suicide bombing of the market in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetiya, also yielded intelligence. That attack killed 19 and wounded 240. One of the captured mujahedin, Ibragim Daurbekov, gave evidence in return for a reduced sentence, receiving a 16-year sentence with charges of involvement in the suicide bombing dropped. His evidence led to the capture of seven mujahedin and the indictments of four.[17]

This is not to say that Yevkurov or the federal authorities are ignoring the stick. In early January 2010, rumors had it that Yevkurov had requested 20 units of additional GRU forces for the republic.[18] Within two months, security forces killed the notorious Sheik Buryatskii, who joined the CE in May 2008 and spearheaded much of the GV’s violence in 2008 and 2009, especially in the preparation and deployment of suicide bombers. For example, Buryatskii was behind the two most spectacular attacks of 2009: the June suicide car bombing assassination attempt against Yevkurov and the August 17th suicide truck-bombing of the Nazran Ministry of Internal Affairs police headquarters in Nazran, Ingushetiya. However, whereas Kadyrov has overemphasized the ‘stick’ of hard power, Yevkurov has mixed the ‘carrot’ of soft power with the stick of coercion. 

The Decline of the GV

Yevkurov’s more balanced COIN strategy, the security forces’ killing of Buryatskii, and the capture of key operatives like GV amir Taziyev have led to a sharp fall in the number of CE GV attacks, from some 138 in 2008 and 175 in 2009 to only 99 in 2010 and approximately 40 in the first six months of 2011.[19] Indeed, the GV’s command now appears to be decimated. It remains unclear who is the current GV amir. No GV amir – whether at the vilaiyat, sector, or jamaat level – has produced a video this year (see Table).


Table 1. VILAIYAT GALGAICHE (Ingushetia and Ossetia):

Main Website: (

Other Websites: ( 


Amir – Adam Ganishev? (last cited 15 September 2010). Predecessors – Yusup Dzangiev (captured November 2010); ‘Magas’ Ali Taziev (aka Akhmed Yevloev), captured 8 June 2010; Ilyas Gorchanov (killed 13 October 2005).

Naib – unknown.  Predecessors – Adam Korigov, killed 9 April 2010.

Naib – unknown.  Predecessors – Akhmed Tsaloev (aka Shamil), killed 9 April 2010.

Qadi – Abu Dudzhan (last cited October 2010). Predecessors – unknown.

Liaison to CE amir – Bashir Khamkhoyev (captured October 2010)


Ingushetia Front/Sector: Amir – Unknown. Predecessors‘Magas’ Ali Taziev (aka Akhmed Yevloev), captured 8 June 2010; Rustam Dzortov (aka Abdul Aziz), killed 5 September 2009; Akhmed Yevloev (killed in 2006).

Naib – Unknown.  Predecessors: Magomed Aliyev (aka Abdul Malik), killed in September 2009.

  • Sunzha Sector: Amir – ‘Khamzat’ Aslan Byutukaev. Predcessors – Khamkhoev (killed early 2011); Abu Rizvan (Aslan Dzeit, killed February 2010);
    • Naib – unknown.  Predecessors – Hatsiev Bekhan (Arbi), (killed February 2010).
  • Karabulak Sector/Jamaat: Amir – Unknown. Predecessors – Yusup Dzangiev (captured November 2010); A. Gordanov, cited 29 April 2010.
  • Malgobek Sector/Jamaat: Amir – Unknown. Predecessors – One of twin Bekov brothers, Bagaudin Magomedovich and Magomed Magomedkhanovich, killed 23 October 2010.
  • Plievo Sector/Jamaat: Amir – Unknown. Predecessors – Islam Tochiev (killed October 2010); Predecessors – Ilez Gardanov (killed 23 August 2010).
  • Ingush Jamaat: Amir – unknown. Predecessors – Ilyas Gorchkhanov (killed 13 October 2005).
  • Khalifat Jamaat: Amir – Alikhan Merzhoev. Predecessors – Magomed Khashiev (killed in October 2004).
  • Amanat Jamaat (last cited 2007).
  • Ingush Jamaat ‘Shariat’: Amir – Khabibulla (last cited 23 March 2007).
  • Jamaat ‘Siddik’ (last cited 2006): Amir – Abdullakh Ganishev (last cited 2006). Predecessors – ‘Duka’.

Ossetian Sector

  • Ossetian Jamaat (last cited 2008): Amir – Alan Digorskii – perhaps one and the same jamaat as:
  • Jamaat ‘Kataib al-Khoul’ (last cited 2008): Amir – Saad.

– operational group ‘Iraf’.

– operational group ‘Sunzha.’


The only semi-prominent GV figure this year has been its qadi Abu Dudzhan. He has issued only a couple of videos, compared to the tens produced this year by the qadis and amirs from the CE, DV, and OVKBK. Only the Chechen amirs, aside of Umarov, have been more invisible. The only recent video from the GV featured a lone, unnamed, and masked “mujahed”, not an amir, calling his Muslim brethren to join the jihad.[20] The “informational-analytical department” of the GV’s “command” have released a few postings, including one in August listing several attacks carried out in Malgobek District, Ingushetiya and detailing one battle with police and security forces in the period of June and early July.[21] The same GV command department issued a statement claiming GV responsibility for the killing police patrol unit commander Savarbek Matiev on 18 August 2011, charging that he had taken part in the killing of four mujahedin.[22] The only statements or videos posted since the August GV command statements, besides the unidentified GV mujahed’s video, have come from GV shariah court qadi Abu Dudhzhan; one made in August and posted in September and another posted on November 30th on the GV’s official website,[23] has been the least active of all the vilaiyats’ websites. For the most part, it has been limited to re-posting old articles and videos or new ones from other CE websites.

It remains to be seen whether Umarov and the CE will be able to build up the GV for next year’s jihadi season. In the past, Umarov has had close ties to the GV mujahedin; hence, his appointment of the Ingushetiya mujahedin’s amir ‘Magas’ Ali Taziyev as CE military amir in 2007 and his dispatching Sheikh Buryatskii to that republic in 2008. This year’s fighting season is over, and the GV is in greater decline than it was last year and is now a frail front in the CE jihad compared to its vanguard position in 2008 and 2009.



Amir Majda of the Kizlyar Jamaat under the Northern Sector of the CE’s Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV) jihadi network claimed responsibility for the killing of an alleged informer working for the Dagestani authorities against the mujahedin. In a November 7th posting on the DV website, amir Majda announced the late October killing of Shamil Magomedovich Makagadzhiev, who was approximately 21-years old, for acting as an informer against the mujahedin and having betrayed some 100 “legal mujahedin” and 30 regular mujahedin.[24] The term ‘legal mujahedin’ (legalnyie modzhakhedy) seems to refer to what the Russian authorities refer to as ‘facilitators’ (sposobniki); those who supply safe housing, transportation, food and so on to the mujahedin.

According to amir Majda, Makagadzhiev acted as a ‘legal mujahed’ and an informer for the police under the guise of assisting the Kizlyar Jamaat until 2011. The mujahedin accepted his assistance despite the fact that they knew that “his close relatives are informers and closely connected with the leaders of the infidel-preservers of Kizlyar and Kizlyar District.” After Kizlyar Jamaat amir ‘Umar’ Fakhruddin was killed on 21 January 2011, Makagadzhiev moved in with the mujahedin (presumably in the mountains or forests), but then on May 7th or 8th he left the mujahedin’s encampment against the orders of the Kizlyar Jammat amir (presumably Majda) and was captured by the ‘infidels.’ The very next day, according to Majda, all the storage sites and base encampments of the mujahedin in the district were bombed, leading to the death of 8 mujahedin. According to Majda, Makagadzhiev also informed on more than 100 other informants, some of who managed to relocate but most of whom were arrested. This left the Kizlyar Jammat with virtually no ‘legal mujahedin.’ Acknowledging that the mujahedin were not entirely sure how much of this was Makagadzhiev’s work, after he re-emerged in Kizlyar driving around in the company of the ‘infidels’, visiting bars and “other evil places,” the Kizlyar mujahedin were able to establish that he had been working with the authorities from the beginning of his contact with the Kizlyar Jamaat in 2009. According to Majda, almost all of the some 30 mujahedin killed by the security forces in that period were exposed by Makagadzhiev. Thus, a decision was taken to execute him, and he was shot in late October as he emerged from a pool hall.

Amir Majda closes by warning all mujahedin to be “extremely cautious,” as the ‘infidels’ are increasingly inserting “their ‘ducks’” (spies) among the mujahedin and often succeed in getting them “into the amirs’ inner circle.” He therefore calls upon the mujahedin to “check all ‘legal mujahedin’” and report to them only that information which is necessary.[25]



Usama, the qadi of the recently very active Kizlyar Sector or Kizlyar Jamaat of the CE’s Dagestani network, the Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV), issued two 13-minute video statements in November. In the first, titled ‘Declaration to the Cowards’, qadi Usama sits in the forest flanked by two other mujahedin in front of the black and white global jihadi banner. He criticizes those who are too cowardly to join the mujahedin and emphasizes that jihad is obligatory (fard a’in) for all Muslims. Usama cites several verses that invoke Muslims “not to turn their back on the battlefield” and notes that the Caucasus is a battlefield. He frequently repeats the phrase “weak men, women and children” and warns those who do not join the jihad are cowards. Usama’s style is more lively than most other CE qadis. Often switching back and forth between Arabic and Russian, Usama occasionally breaks into a song-like recitation from the Koran in Arabic in the style of a khafiz. This is unusual for CE amirs and qadis, and Usama does this several times in the course of both of his November 2011 lecture-style statements.[26]

In the second, titled ‘Declaration to Those Living Under Secular Law (Taghut),’ Usama, sits in the forest with three mujahedin (two of them appear in the first video discussed above) and second from the left side to the viewer. He begins by congratulating the mujahedin on a successful “special operation” and notes that it is the mujahed’s dream to martyr himself on the path of Allah and jihad and arrive in paradise. Usama warns that the mujahedin will settle scores with all those who inform on the mujahedin and that the mujahedin know the address of each and will kill them and as long as they continue to refuse to declare the bayat to the amir and enter on the path of Allah and jihad. “Allah will kill you by our hands,” he emphasizes, adding several times that the mujahedin will cut off all of their heads.[27]



A rare jihadi-related violent incident occurred in Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessiya (KChR) on November 24th when security forces surrounded Kanamat Saryiev, who was then killed in a shoutout. The website of the CE’s United Vilaiyat of Kabardiya, Balkariya, and Karachai (OVKBK) seemed to claim Saryiev as one of the OVKBK’s mujahedin, referring to him as “our brother.” The report also noted that a second mujahed, Ruslan Bairamkulov, was wounded and captured in the incident.[28]

The OVKBK covers the KChR as well as the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya (KBR), where it maintains a more permanent active network. There has been little more than a handful of jihadi attacks in the KChR in recent years, while there were nearly 110 in the KBR in 2010 and more than 20 in each of the previous two years, 2008 and 2009. IIPER estimates there were some 51 attacks in the KBR and perhaps 2 in the KChR during the first half of this year.



In mid-October the CE mujahedin posted on their main website, Kavkaz tsentr, a 22-minute, 42-second video of the last testament of the mujahedin who attacked Tsentaroi (also called Khosi-Yurt) on 29 August 2010 in a combined assault/multiple suicide mission on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s home.[29]

The mujahedin moved into Tsentaroi’s center and appeared to have attacked Kadyrov’s home. Depending on the various reports at the time, the number of mujahedin attacking Tsentaroi ranged from 12-60.[30] The present video shows only 10 mujahedin, but there are 2 off-camera and it is plausible that other jamaats could have assisted the one shown in the videotape.[31] The most reliable reports counted at least 6 pro-Kadyrov police and security guards killed and another 18 wounded, in addition to another 7 civilians wounded, for a total of 31 casualties, all of whom Kavkaz tsentr referred to as “apostates” (murtady). Some reports, including Kavkaz tsentr, concluded or at least did not exclude that some of the attackers were suicide bombers or attackers. According to Kavkaz tsentr, the attack force of “up to 60” mujahedin consisted of several units under the command of amirs Makhran, Zaurbek and Abdurrakhman, and that the mujahedin’s casualties amounted to 5 dead.[32] Thus, the video may show only one of the amirs and his jamaat.

The first mujahedin to speak in the new video, likely the group’s amir (who goes unnamed), speaks about jihad in Chechen.  The other nine mujahedin follow – some with only a few words, others in longer speeches – and also speak in Chechen. At least two more mujahedin remain off-camera, one of whom is filming. Those whose names are somewhat audible, given the less than clear diction of some of the mujahedin and background noise in the audio, are Zubaid, Khattab, Akhmad, Issa, Abdullah, Khamzat, Salakh, and Abbas.  The amir closes, speaking for the last six minutes. Each mujahed is well armed with numerous Kalashnikovs, walkie-talkies, mortars, and grenade launchers visible in the video.

The long delay in the posting of the video on a CE website might be explained by the fact that the attack occurred after the bulk of the Chechnya-based Nokchicho Vilaiyat mujahedin broke with CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov in August 2010, and it was they who carried out the Tsentaroi attack. Thus, the CE websites would have been reluctant to present the video at the time to give the splitters credit for an attack they themselves would have liked to claim. With the split being patched up in July 2011, the reunified CE has no problem now trumpeting this daring attack.



A 17 November 2011 news release stated that in the Bashkortostan town of Davlekanovo, a Hizb ut-Tahrir Islami (HTI) cell was shut down with three members taken into custody by law enforcement officials. Investigators stated that the cell had been active since last year and that pro-HTI propaganda was found inside the homes of the suspects. The three are charged with setting up and being members of a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell.[33]


CENTRAL ASIA by Yelena Altman and Gordon M. Hahn


Earlier IIPERs reported ties between CE mujahedin and a group of Kazakhstan mujahedin, the emergence of several jihadi cells, and the first apparent jihadi attacks in Kazakhstan (see IIPERs, Nos. 30, 37, 42, 45, and 46). Recent attacks in Atyrau in October and Taraz in November confirm that the jihadi threat in the northern Central Asian country is now real.

Jund al-Khilafah and the Atyrau Bombings

The jihadist group, Jund al-Khilafa, meaning “Soldiers of the Caliphate, claimed responsibility for the 31 October 2011 blasts in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. The attack was said to be a warning against the government of Kazakhstan to repeal the ban of prayer in state institutions.[34] Other reports claim the group was trying to intimidate local law enforcement. Allegedly, the men are followers of the notorious istishkhad organizer and executor Sheik Said Abu Saad Buryatskii.[35] As IIPER readers will know, born Aleksandr Tikhomirov and a Buryat-Russian, Buryatskii was based in Ingushetiya with the CE’s suicide operations jamaat, the Riyadus Salikhiin Martyrs Birgade (RSMB), until his demise at the hand of Russian forces in March 2010. The website of the CE’s Ingushetiya-based Galgaiche Vilaiyat (GV), in particular, has posted Kazakhstani mujahedin propaganda materials (see IIPER, No. 30). Kazakhstani authorities have been aware of the creation in the summer of 2009 of a group of several citizens from Kazakhstan with the intention of unleashing jihad in line with the Salafi-Wahhabi stream of Islamism.[36]

The first October 31st blast occurred that morning in a courtyard of the regional administration building. A second occurred in a vacant lot near District 30.[37] According to police reports, three men have been arrested, and the fourth group member, a 24-year-old Atyrau native, Baurzhan Sultangaliyev was killed in the second blast.[38] Searches of his home proved that he had improvised explosive device components.[39] The three arrestees have been identified as Meirambek Usabekov, Merkhat Qalqamanov, and Alimzhan Sagenov.[40]

Terrorist attack in Taraz

On 12 November 2011 there was a series of attacks across Kazakhstan. The most deadly occurred in the southern city of Taraz (Dzhambul) and killed seven people. The man responsible for this attack is 34-year-old, Maksut Kariyev, a Kazakhi citizen.[41] Other incidents on that same day around Kazakhstan have led authorities to believe that Kariyev was part of a larger plot. Another bombing attempt also in Taraz was foiled that day. A checkpoint attack and another shootout between two policemen were not.

According to Fergana News, Kariyev first shot two employees of the Department of National Security Committee of Dzhambul region, then attacked the owner of a Mazda-626, stole the vehicle, and continued to a gun shop. There, he killed a security guard and fatally wounded a passerby. After picking up semi-automatic weapons, a “Saiga” and CZ”, and ammunition, he managed to kill two police officers. Kariyev continued home where he took an RPG-26 and arrived at the regional department of the National Security Committee. There, he shot at the walls and windows of the building. After 12 hours and 45 minutes of running loose and managing to wound two more officers, Kariyev was finally detained. However, while being arrested he was able to detonate an explosive device killing both himself and the arresting officer.[42]

The Taraz attack may possibly have origins in Kyrgyzstan as well. Contrary to Kazakhstan’s authorities, Kyrgyzstan maintains that a grenade launcher used in the last attack did not originate in Kyrgyzstan.[43] However, a few days later on 12 November, a person was arrested Kyrgyzstan. According to Fergana News, the authorities confiscated from his residence “homemade time bombs, grenades and more than 716 kilograms of explosives” as well as “two sawn-off shotguns, four detonators for explosives, five packs of cartridges 9 mm caliber PM, 74-caliber cartridge ACM 7, 62 millimeter, and the wires to connect the detonator to the explosive devices.” Presently the accused is charged with various weapons related charges along with terrorism. However, the authorities are also investigating his ties to an Islamist cell in Kazakhstan and possible involvement in the Taraz attack.[44] This year’s jihadi attacks mark the first in Kazakhstan’s history.



An Uzbek court in the town of Yangibazar, Tashkent reigion, sent 16 men to prison for membership in an unidentified illegal Islamist organization. Their sentences ranged between 6 and 12 years.[45] Saidmurod Yusupov, Alibi Saparniyazov, Hozhiakbar Dzhaldabaev, Mukhtor Khalilov, Ismoil Kholmatov, acre Mirsaidov, Farhad Mahamat, Abdulrahim Erkabaev, Doniyor Turabek, Isroiljon Khalilov, Mahmoud Mahamatullaev, Shaukat Melibaev, ISRO Kuchkarov, and Omonulla Giyasov were sentenced to six year terms.[46] Erkabaev Habubullah was sentenced to 12 years.[47]


On the night of 16-17 November, a blast on a railway line between the border of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan has prompted an investigation. The blast on the Termez-Kurgan line occurred in Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya region.[48] The line is used to transport supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, but a connection between NATO supply and the blast has been neither confirmed nor denied. There were no causalities, and no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The explosion destroyed a bridge on the Galaba-Amuzang stretch of the line.[49] Thus far, the explosion is being investigated as an act of terrorism and a government commission is being formed to examine the situation.



The Supreme Court of Tajikistan sentenced 28 people to prison on 11 November 2011. Of the 28, seven were life sentences for “supporting a terrorist group”[50] issued to Haidar Boboyev, Nozimjon Bahodurov, Jamshed Nosirov, Jamshed Raibov, Sunatullo Shukurov and Rustam Tohirjonov.[51] The other 21 were given terms ranging from two to thirty years. Among the latter group is 78 year-old Muzaffar Davlatov who received seven years and is the father of Islamic insurgent leader Alovuddin Davlatov (aka Ali Bedaki) killed earlier this year by Tajikistan security forces.[52]



Azamsho Ziyoev, known as “Azami Panjara” was captured in Khatlon province on 13 November 2011.[53] He was among 25 convicts serving long jail terms for involvement in jihadi groups, who escaped the detention facility in Dushanbe on 23 August 2010, kicking off a series of violent clashes and insurgent attacks that lasted though autumn 2010.[54]



Three men were convicted in November of membership in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). 29-year-old Akpar Niyazov, 30-year-old Jamshed Musoev, and 20-year-old Khairullo Shukrullo were found guilty of committing crimes under Article187, Part 2 on (Organization of Criminal Group) of Tajikistan’s Criminal Code.”[55] The convicts received sentences of eight to nine yeas in prison.



A verdict was announced on 28 October sentencing Toktosun Zhorobekov, Halilzhana Hudayberdieva, and Abdrakhman Abdullayev to 20 years imprisonment and confiscation of property. Javlon Mirzahodzhaev was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and Mahmatrasul Abakzhanov was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment with 3 years of probation following the imprisonment.[56] All of the convicted were imprisoned for participating in the June 2010 mass rioting that occurred in and around Osh and Jalalabad and for attempting to subvert the territorial integrity of the state.[57]



On 12 November, in building number 15 in the 2nd district of Andijan, an explosion occurred. A group called the People’s Movement of Uzbekistan (NDU) released a video sequencing the explosion.[58]



[1] “Obrashchenie Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman k narodu i pravitel’stvu Turtsii,” Kavkaz tsentr, 20 November 2011, 16:37,

[2] “Obrashchenie Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman k narodu i pravitel’stvu Turtsii.”

[3] “Reiter ‘ne ponyal’ poslanie Amira Imarata Kavkaz Dokku Abu Usman,” Kavkaz tsentr, 22 November 2011, 11:31,

[4] “V Istanbule byl ubit blizkii soratnik Dokku Umarova,” Kavkaz tsentr, 18 September 2011, 00:11,

[5] “A Sniper From Chechnya Caught Red-Handed,” Sahab (Turkey), 10 October 2011, 17:33 and 17:34,

[6] “V Stambule arestovany chleny bandy killerov Akhmeda Zakaeva,” Kavkaz tsentr, 10 October 2011, 12:36,

[7] “Obrashchenie Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman k narodu i pravitel’stvu Turtsii,” Kavkaz tsentr, 20 November 2011, 16:37,

[8] “Poslanie Federal’nomu Sobraniyu Rossiiskoi Federatsii,”, 12 November 2009, 13:45, and Guy Falconbridge and Denis Dyomkin, “N. Caucasus strife is Russia’s top problem-Kremlin,” Reuters, 12 November 2009.

[9] Andrew C. Kuchins, Matthew Malarkey, and Sergei Markedonov, The North Caucasus: Russia’s Volatile Frontier, A Report of the Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 2011, and Ivan Sukhov, “’Kuda eti den’gi  delis’?’,” Moskovskie novosti, 4 April 2011, 00:32,

[10] Sukhov, “’Kuda eti den’gi  delis?’”

[11] “Yevkurov zaprosil dopolnitel’no 20 podrazdelenii spetsnaza GRU,” 4 January 2010, 19:58,

[12] Sergei Minenko, “Al’-Kaida’ na ‘Zhigulyakh’,” Vremya novostei, 4 February 2010, and “36 Fighters Voluntarily Surrendered in 2010,” Russia Eurasia Terrorism Watch, 7 November 2010,

[13] “Yevkurov predlagaet boevikam v Ingushetii sdat’sya v obmen na myagkoe nakazanie,” Kavkaz uzel, 9 February 2010, 11:30,

[14] “Yevkurov predlagaet boevikam v Ingushetii sdat’sya v obmen na myagkoe nakazanie.”

[15] “Prezident Ingushetii vstretilsya s rodstvennikami ukryvavshikh Saida Buryatskogo,” Kavkaz uzel, 7 March 2010, 00:55,

[16] Ivan Sukhov, “Kalymskii krai,” Vremya novostei, 8 July 2010,

[17] “Terroristu ne zaschitali vzryv rynka,” Kommersant, 16 October 2011,

[18] “Yevkurov zaprosil dopolnitel’no 20 podrazdelenii spetsnaza GRU.”

[19] Gordon M. Hahn, “The Caucasus Emirate’s ‘Year of the Offensive’ in Figures: Data and Analysis of the Caucasus Emirate’s Terrorist Activity in 2009,” Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report (from here on listed as IIPER), No. 7, 18 January 2010; Gordon M. Hahn, “Comparing the Level of Caucasus Emirate Terrorist Activity in 2008 and 2009,” IIPER, No. 8, 5 February 2010; Gordon M. Hahn, “Trends in Jihadist Violence in Russia During 2010 in Statistics,” IIPER, No. 33, 26 January 2011; and Gordon M. Hahn, “Estimated Data on the Number of Attacks, Jihadi-Related Incidents, and Attendant Casualties in the First Half of 2011,” IIPER, No. 45, 10 October 2011.

[20] “Vam nadlezhit bol’she boyatsya Allakha, esli vy yavlyaetes veruyushchim…,”, 11 November 2011, 12:12,

[21] “Svodka boevikh operatsii za poslednie 30 dnei v Malgobekskom raione vilaiyata G’alg’aiche,”, 26 August 2011, 6:06,

[22] “Zayavlenie komadovaniya mudzhakhidov Vilaiyata G’alg’ache,”, 27 August 2011, 7:07,

[23] “Obrashchenie Kadiya Vilaiyata G’alg’aiche Abu Dudzhanu,”, 31 August 2011, and “Obrashchenie kadiya Vilaiyata G’alg’aiche. Zu-l’-Khidzha 1432 g,”, 25 November 2011, 10:10,

[24] “Zayavlenie mudzhakhidov Kizlyarskogo dzhamaata Severnogo sektora Vilaiyata Dagestan,”, 7 November 2011, 12:22, and

[25] “Zayavlenie mudzhakhidov Kizlyarskogo dzhamaata Severnogo sektora Vilaiyata Dagestan,”, 7 November 2011, 12:22, and

[26] “Kadii Kizlyara Usama rakhimakhullakh (Obrashchenie k trusam),”, 27 November 2011,

[27] “Kadii Kizlyara Usama: obrashchenie k tagutam,”, 27 November 2011,

[28] “Perestrelka v gorode Cherkesske. Vilaiyat IKB IK,”, 25 November 2011,

[29] “Zaveshanie modzhakhedov pered Shakhidskoi operatsiei v Khosi-Yurte (Avgust 2010g.),” Kavkaz tsentr, October 2011,, last accessed 17 October 2011.

[30] Luke Harding, “Islamist rebels launch deadly attack on Chechen president’s village,” The Guardian, 29 August 2010, 18:12,; ; ; and “Spetsoperatsii v Khosi-Yurte budet imet’ dolgosrochnoe vliyanie na situatsiyu,” Kavkaz tsentr, 30 August 2010, 12:00 and 14:52

[31] “Zaveshanie modzhakhedov pered’ Shakhidskoi operatsiei v Khosi-Yurte (Avgust 2010g.).”

[32] “Vozmozhno, modzhakhedy ispol’zovali afganskuyu taktiku. Poter’ sredi murtadov v Khosi-Yurte gorazdo bol’she,” Kavkaz tsentr, 30 August, 16:42 and 17:17, and “Spetsoperatsii v Khosi-Yurte budet imet’ dolgosrochnoe vliyanie na situatsiyu,” Kavkaz tsentr, 30 August 2010, 12:00 and 14:52

[33] “Three Hizb ut-Tahrir extremists detained in Bashkortostan,” Russia & CIS Military Daily, 17 November 2011.

[34] “Kazakhstan: The responsibility for the bombings in Atyrau took the “Soldiers of the Caliphate”,” Fergana News, 1 November 2011,

[35] “Kazakh Officials Say Terrorist Group Involved In Atyrau Bombings,” Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFERL), 9 November 2011,

[36] “Kazakh Officials Say Terrorist Group Involved In Atyrau Bombings.”

[37] “Kazakh Officials Say Terrorist Group Involved In Atyrau Bombings.”

[38] “Kazakh Police Apprehend Three Over Bomb Blasts,” RFERL, 7 November 2011,

[39] “Kazakh Police Apprehend Three Over Bomb Blasts.”

[40] “Kazakh Officials Say Terrorist Group Involved In Atyrau Bombings.”

[41] “Kazakhstan: The terrorist underground is, and it does not intend to sit idly by,” Fergana News, 23 November 2011,

[42] “Kazakhstan: suicide bombers carried out a series of attacks in Taraz. Seven people were killed,” Fergana News, 14 November 2011,

[43] Taraz grenade launcher did not come from Kyrgyzstan,” Universal Newswires, 18 November 2011,

[44] “Kyrgyzstan: In the south, seized home-made time bombs and more than 700 kilograms of explosives,” Fergana, 14 November 2011,

[45] “Uzbek authorities torture, jail 16 men,” Universal Newswires, 17 November 2011,

[46] “Uzbekistan: Tashkent region 16 people found the Wahhabis and convicted,” Fergana, 17 November 2011,

[47] “Uzbekistan: Tashkent region 16 people found the Wahhabis and convicted.”

[48] “Uzbekistan: Government Commission Forms to Investigate Likely Terrorist Blast,” Eurasia Net, 19 November 2011, and Uzbekistan: November 17 railway line near the border with Afghanistan explosion,” Fergana, 19 November 2011,

[49] “Rail line explosion prompts Uzbek investigation,” Universal Newswires, 21 November 2011,

[50] “Tajik Court Jails 28 People For ‘Supporting Terrorist Group’,” RFERL, 13 November 2011,

[51] “28 participants of last year’s events in Rasht district convicted,” Asia-Plus, 11 November 2011,

[52] “28 participants of last year’s events in Rasht district convicted.”

[53] “The last jailbreak fugitive detained in Tajikistan,” Asia Plus, 14 November 2011,

[54] “The last jailbreak fugitive detained in Tajikistan.”

[55] “Tajikistan: Three residents Sughd convicted of membership in the IMU,” Fergana, 3 November 2011,

[56] “Kyrgyzstan: Uzbek leaders were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment,” Fergana, 28 October 2011,

[57] “Kyrgyzstan: Uzbek leaders were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.”

[58] “Uzbekistan: The web video posted consequences of explosion in a building of Andijan,” Fergana, 16 November 2011,



          The CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program published a special report in August by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn, “Getting the Caucasus Emirate Right” which IIPER readers may find of interest.  It can be downloaded at:


Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) is a project of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  It focuses on all politically relevant issues involving or bearing on Islam, Islamism, and Jihadism in Russia and Eurasia writ large. All issues of IIPER will soon be permanently archived at Back issues Nos. 1-44 also are archived at: 

IIPER is compiled, edited and, unless indicated otherwise, written by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn. Dr. Hahn is a Senior Associate (Non-Resident) in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP), Monterey, California. He is also a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group and an Analyst and Consultant for Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, He teaches courses on both politics and terrorism in Russia and Eurasia at MonTREP. 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 on any aspect of Islamic, Islamist, or Jihadist politics in Eurasia as well as financial contributions to support the project. For related inquiries or to request to be included on IIPER’s mailing list, please contact:

Dr. Gordon M. Hahn

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

Email: or

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