Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) 61

2 October 2012

By Gordon M. Hahn

Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies



* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Anna Nevo, Casey Mahoney, Daniel Painter, Elizabeth Wolcott, Jerry Davydov, Kevin Butts, Michelle Enriquez, Olga Volcsko, and Stephanie Barko.  IIPER accepts outside submissions.



IIPER’s data for the first six months of 2012 shows that there were approximately 213 insurgent and terrorist attacks and related violent incidents in Russia as compared with 340 in the first half of 2011 (see Table 1).  This represents a 37.4 percent decline year-on-year (see IIPER 45 for the data for the first six


Table 1. Estimated Number of Violent Jihadi Insurgent and Terrorist Incidents and Resulting Casualties in Russia from January 1 through June 30, 2012.

Region  Attacks/ Violent Incidents State Agents Killed State Agents Wounded Civilians Killed Civilians Wounded Jihadists Killed Jihadists Wounded Jihadists Captured/ Surrendered
Chechnya     17     30      59      2      1    20      1        5
Ingushetia     23     11      12      1      4    10      0        0
Dagestan   140     86    172    23    33    95      2      16
Kabardino-Balkaria     26      7      11      7      2    28      1        3
Karachaevo-Cherkessia      2      2       2      0      0      3      0        0
Adygeya      0      0       0      0      0     0      0        0
North Ossetia      1      0       1      0      0     1      0        2
Stavropol      2      1       0      0      1     5      0        1
North Caucasus Total   
















Tatarstan      2      0       1      0      0      1      1        1
Bashkiriya      0      0       0      0      0      0      0        0
Astrakhan      0      0       0      0      0      0      0        0
Rest of Russia      0      0       0      0      0      0      0      11
Total  213   137   258    33    41  163      5        39

* The data that form the base for this table’s figures were researched by Gordon M. Hahn with assistance from Anna Nevo, Casey Mahoney, Daniel Painter, Elizabeth Wolcott, Jerry Davydov, Kevin Butts, Michelle Enriquez, Olga Volcsko, and Stephanie Barko.

Methodology: The data in this table are estimates. The estimates represent where possible the average of the mimimum jihadi-reported figures and of the average of the minimum and maximum figures from non-jihadi sources. The logic behind this methodology is based on the tendency of Russian and local government and non-jihadi Russian and local media (often tied to or dependent on government reporting) to underreport the number of terrorist incidents and their resulting casualties as well as the tendency of jihadist sources to exaggerate the jihadists’ capacity by sometimes claiming responsibility for attacks carried out by others for criminal, ethnic, or clan purposes and exaggerating the numbers of casualties caused by their own attacks. Data for mujahedin killed comes from averaging figures reported by the CE-affiliated IslamUmma website and the human rights organization Memorial’s website Kavkaz-uzel.ru. Data for mujahedin wounded, captured and surrendered typically come from non-jihadi sources. Incidents include not only attacks carried out, but also counter-terrorist operations and successful and attempted arrests. They do not include prevented attacks (deactivated bombs, etc.). The estimated number of CE attacks and jihadi-related violent incidents was derived from an average between the number of attacks/incidents as reported individually on CE websites and on non-jihadi sources. An average between this number from jihadi sources and the number of attacks as reported in non-jihadi sources was used to derive our estimated number of CE attacks and jihadi-related violent incidents.  Where possible a similar methodology is used to derive the figure for the number of mujahedin killed, wounded, and captured.

Sources: The jihadi sources’ data for attacks in the North Caucasus comes from monthly figures reported by the CE-affiliated website UmmaNews.com as well as reports and claims of responsibility for individual attacks appearing on the CE websites Kavkaz tsentr (www.kavkazcenter.com), Hunafa.com (http://hunafa.com), VDagestan.info (http://VDagestan.info), and Guraba.info (http://guraba.info), and Islamdin.com (www.islamdin.com).  Non-jihadi sources include official statements and independent reporting, especially that of the oppositional Russian human rights organization ‘Memorial’ and its website Kavkaz-uzel.  Other non-jihadi sources used include: www.regnum.ru, kommersant.ru, www.rian.ru, and http://www.gazeta.ru.  ___________________________________________________

months of 2011).  It needs to be remembered, however, that the first half of 2011 was anamolous in terms of the high level of jihad-related violence compared to all previous years in the North Caucasus, and notwithstanding a slight dip in CE operational activity in the second half of 2011 and thus for the year overall, 2011 was the CE’s second most capacious year, exceeding the 2008’s 373 total number of attacks/incidents and 2009’s 511.  All that said, the CE is nevertheless on a pace that would see its operational level fall to its lowest since 2008.  As in 2011, approximately 10 percent of the violent incidents in 2012 were initiated by security, military or police agencies in the form of special counter-terrorist operations.[1]  My general assessment, without doing an actual count, is that siloviki-initiated operations actually have been more prevalent in 2012, especially in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya (KBR).  For further comparison, during the first six months of 2010 and 2009, IIPER estimated there were approximately 213 (as in the first half of this year) and 236 attacks/incidents, respectively.

The CE’s 213 attacks/incidents in the first six months of this year killed some 137 state agents and wounded 258, compared with 129 killed and 199 wounded in the first half of 2011; a 6.2 percent and 29.6 percent decline, respectively.  Thus, CE attacks have become more efficient in their deadliness this year compared with 2011, though it should be emphasized that the efficiency of CE ops in 2011 declined in comparison with 2010.[2]

Civilian casualties have declined precipitously in 2012’s first six months compared with 2011’s first six months, with 33 killed and 41 wounded this year compared with 102 and 242, respectively in the first half of last year.  These represent 67.6 percent and 16.9 percent declines, respectively.  This is a result of the CE’s failure to carry out a mass casualty attack this year like the ones (January 2011 Domodedovo, March 2010 Moscow subway, and November 2009 Nevskii Express train bombings) carried out in previous years.  This is perhaps a consequence of CE amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov’s call this past winter that his mujahedin cease mass casualty attacks against Russia’s civilian population in response to the December 2011 mass demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere protesting the outcome of the Duma elections and Vladimir Putin’s policies in general.  Civilian casualties in 2011 also declined by 8.6 percent from 2010.[3]  In sum, the 213 CE attacks and the related violent incidents during the first half of 2012 inflicted 469 casualties (170 killed and 299 wounded) as compared with 672 casualties (231 killed and 441 wounded) in the first six months of 2011.  This marks a decline of 30.2 percent in the total number of casualties in the first half of this year compared to last.

Operational Comparison of the CE’s Vilaiyats

Looking at the individual North Caucasus regions through the prism of the CE’s four main ‘vilaiyats’, the CE’s Dagestan network of mujahedin, the Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV), continues to be the jihad’s center of gravity as it has been since April 2010.  However, each vilaiyat has seen its operational capacity decline compared with the first half of last year.  In the first half of this year, the DV carried out or was involved in 140 violent attacks/incidents, compared with 208 in the first half of 2011, marking a 32.7 percent decline.  One explanation that would somewhat mitigate this picture of reduced capacity is the diversion of resources, including fighters to Azerbaijan in the plot to attack the ‘Eurovision’ music festival and other targets in Baku and across Azerbaijan uncovered in May and discussed in IIPER 58.  Nevertheless, the DV’s position as the CE’s vanguard vilaiyat/network strengthened in the first six months of 2012 to an all-time high with 65.7 percent of all attacks and violent incidents occurring within its field of operations, Russia’s Dagestan Republic.  For comparison, the DV’s number of attacks/incidents comprised 45.8 percent of the CE’s total in 2010 and 57.7 percent in 2011.

As has been true since mid-2010, the United Vilaiyat of Kabaradiya, Balkariya and Karachai (OVKBK), the CE’s network responsible for Russia’s republics of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR) and Karachaevo-Cherkessiya (KChR), was the second most powerful of the CE’s vilaiyats in the first half of 2012.  As in 2011 and 2010, the KBR is still seeing the second highest level of jihadi violence after Dagestan among Russia’s 83 regions, with some 26 attacks/incidents in 2011 barely exceeding the 23 attacks/incidents in Ingushetiya (Galgaiche Vilaiyat or GV) and 17 in Chechnya (Nokchicho Vilaiyat or NV).  There were 2 OVKBK attacks/incidents in the KChR, giving the OVKBK a total of some 28 attacks/incidents in which its mujahedin were involved in the first six months of 2012.  This represents, however, a sharp decline of 47.2 percent as compared to the first half of 2011, when the OVKBK had some 53 attacks/incidents (51 in the KBR and 2 in the KChR) to its log.

The CE’s networks in Ingushetiya and Chechnya continued to be the laggards in terms of operational capacity in 2012.  The CE’s Galgaiche Vilaiyat (GV) network, which covers Russia’s North Caucasus republics of Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya, retained its third place position among the CE’s four permanently active vilaiyats, responsible for some 24 attacks/incidents (23 in Ingushetiya and 1 in North Ossetiya).  This represents a decline of 35.1 percent decline from the GV’s estimated total of 37 attacks (36 in Ingushetiya and 1 in North Ossetiya) in the first half of 2011.  After moving ahead of the GV mujahedin as of the half-year mark in 2011, Chechnya’s jihadi network, the CE’s Nokchicho Vilaiayat (NV), fell behind the GV by the end of 2011 and continues to bring up the rear among the four CE vilaiyats as the first half of  2012 ends. This decline continues, despite patching up in late July 2011 its August 2010 break from CE amir Umarov.[4]  The NV was involved in only 17 attacks/incidents in the first half of 2012, as opposed to 40 in the first half of 2011 – a 57.5 percent decline in an already weak record.  The one bright spot for the NV mujahedin is that its operations have been the most effective of any of the other CE vilaiyats, including the powerful DV.

In terms of casualties inflicted, Dagestan remains the most dangerous and deadly North Caucasus republic for state agents and civilians alike by farApproximately 86 state agents were killed and 172 were wounded in Dagestan in the first half of 2012, for a total of 258, one more than in all of last year in Dagestan.  In the first half of 2011 Dagestan saw 78 state agents killed and 110 wounded in clashes with the DV mujahedin – 27.1 fewer casualties among state agents than in the first half of this year.  The DV-inflicted 258 casualties among state agents makes up 65.3 percent (258 of 395) of the state agent casualties infliected by the CE mujahedin in the first half of this year, compared with the DV’s 49 percent of that total for all of 2011, 57.3 percent (188 of 328) of that total for the first half of 2011, and 33.6 percent of the total for all of 2010.

The Chechnya and NV saw 89 of 395 or 22.5 percent of state agent casualties inflicted by the CE.  The GV of Ingushetiya and North Ossetiya inflicted 24 of 395 or 6.1 percent of the same, and the OVKBK of the KBR and KChR inflicted the smallest percent (5.6 percent or 22 of 395) of the casualties among state agents inflicted by the CE.  For comparison, the OVKBK, Chechen NV, and Ingush GV inflicted 20.4 percent (107 – 96 in the KBR and 11 in the KChR), 19.6 percent (103), and 9.7 percent (51) of the state agent casualties, respectively, in 2011.

Civilian casualties were highest in Dagestan as well (except for Moscow as a result of January’s Moscow Domodedovo Airport suicide bombing), with approximately 56 (23 killed, 33 wounded), followed in descending order by 34 civilian casualties in the KBR (23 killed, 11 wounded), 16 in Ingushetiya (11 killed and 5 wounded), and 13 in Chechnya (9 killed, 4 wounded).  In addition to the 34 civilian casualties inflicted by the OVKBK in the KBR, the 11 civilian casualties (5 killed, 6 wounded) inflicted in the KChR are also likely the product of its mujahedin, giving the OVKB a total of 45 civilian casualties inflicted.  Similarly, in addition to the 16 civilian casualties inflicted by the Ingush GV mujahedin in Ingushetiya, 1 civilian was killed in a jihadi-related attack in North ossetiya, which is part of the GV’s territory of operations, bringing the GV’s total number of civilian casualties to 17.  In sum, the DV’s Dagestani mujahedin inflicted 75.6 percent (56 of 74) of the civilian casualties inflicted by the CE as a whole.  In 2011 the DV inflicted 73.1 percent of the civilian casualties in the North Caucasus and – because of the mass casualty Moscow Domodedovo Airport suicide bombing in January 2011 – 38.2 percent across Russia by the CE.  For the same period last year, the DV inflicted 63.2 percent (287 of 454) of the civilian casualties in the North Caucasus and 42.7 percent (287 of 672) across Russia.

Regarding overall casualties inflicted by CE jihadi-related violence in the first half of 2012, the DV led the other vilaiyats and Dagestan led all Russian regions with approximately 314 (109 killed and 205 wounded) or 67 percent of the total of 469.  The DV was followed by Chechnya’s NV with 92 total casualties (32 killed and 60 wounded) or 19.6 percent of the total inflicted in the first half of 2012, the OVKBK’s total of 31 casulaties inflicted (16 killed and 15 wounded) in the KBR and KChR or 6.6 percent of the total, and Ingushetiya’s GV with 29 (12 killed and 17 wounded) or 6.2 percent.  Taking the mass casualty January 2011 Domodedovo Airport attack, which skews the figures, the respective vilaiyats’ percentages of total casualties-inflicted lined up as follows for the first half of 2011: the DV – 63.2 percent (287 of 454), the OVKBK – 16.3 percent (74 of 454), the NV – 12.8 percent (58 of 454), and the GV – 7.3 percent (33 of 454).  In sum, in terms of the key indicators reflecting operational capacity (the number of attacks and casualties-inflicted), the CE jihad is increasingly becoming an exclusively Dagestani one.

In terms of efficiency, the DV mujahedin’s attacks saw an increase in effictiveness in terms of number of casualties per attack in the first six months of 2012, but remained behind the Chechnya-based NV as it was last year. The DV’s 140 attacks averaged approximately 2.1 casualties, an increase from the 1.4 casualties per attack on average for all of last year, but still below the DV’s figure of 2.3 in 2010.  Chechnya’s NV produced 3.4 casualties per attack in the first half of 2012 (2.0 in 2011 and 2010), the OVKBK – 2.6 (1.4 in 2011), and the GV – 1.4 (1.0 in 2011).

Jihadi Casualties

Despite the difficulty in garnering an accurate count of mujahedin killed, wounded and captured, it is clear that losses among the mujahedin remain high.  Primarily using the reports of ‘Kavkaz uzel,’ a North Caucasus-focused website project of the Russian human rights organization ‘Memorial’ (see Table 1), there were 207 mujahedin neutralized – 163 mujahedin killed, 5 wounded, and 39 captured – in the first half of 2012.  By comparison, in the first half of 2011, there were more than twice as many (424) mujahedin neutralized – 183 mujahedin killed, 15 wounded, and 226 captured.  For all of 2011, there were 611 mujahedin neutralized – 322 mujahedin killed and 289 captured – in 2011.

Dagestan’s DV mujahedin suffered the most losses in the first half of 2012 – 113 (95 killed, 2 wounded, and 16 captured) or 54.6 percent of the total, the OVKBK – 35 (28 killed, 1 wounded, and 3 captured in the KBR and three killed in the KChR) or 16.9 percent of the total, the NV – 26 (20 killed, 1 wounded, and 5 captured) or 12.6 percent, and the GV – 13 (10 killed in Ingushetiya and 1 killed and 2 captured in North Ossetiya) or 6.3 percent.  In the first half of 2011 these figures were: DV – 139 or 32.8 percent, NV – 119 or 28.1 percent, OVKBK – 109 (100 in the KBR and 9 in the KChR) or 25.7 percent, and the GV – 42 (37 in Ingushetiya and 5 in North Ossetiya) or 9.9 percent.



[1] As of July 1st, 2011, the CE was on a pace to exceed its 2010 record of 583 attacks/violent incidents in a single year, having participated in 342 operations from January through June 2011; this half-year total nearly equaled IIPER’s estimate of 373 such violent CE-related incidents for the entire year of 2008.

[2] In 2011, 237 state agents (civilian officials and military, police and intelligence personnel) were killed and 228 wounded, for a total of 525 casualties among state agents across Russia in 2011.  This represents a sharp decline in the efficiency of CE’s insurgent/terrorist attacks.  For comparison, 2010’s 583 attacks/incidents killed approximately 288 state agents and wounded 533, for a total of 821 casualties among state agents.  Thus, whereas the number of attacks/incidents fell by 6 percent, the number of casualties inflicted among state agents by the CE mujahedin fell by 36 percent.

[3] Last year’s 546 attacks produced 456 casualties (159 killed and 297 wounded) as compared to 2010’s 608 civilian casualties (112 killed and 496 wounded) in 583 attacks.  This had much to do with the decline in the number of successful suicide bombings discussed below.

[4] On the NV Chechens’ return to the CE, ss IIPER, No. 44.




Interview with Gordon M. Hahn, Hamid Hamidov, “Gordon Khan: ‘Iranskii vopros stal oslozhnyayushim faktorom  kak v azerbaidzhano-rossiiskikh, tak i azerbaidzhano-amerikanskikh otnosheniyakh’,” 1News.az (Azerbaijan), 17 July 2012, 09:40 www.1news.az/interview/20120717093826472.html.

Gordon M. Hahn, “The Rise of the Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus,” Fair Observer, 12 July 2012, http://www.fairobserver.com/article/global-jihadism-comes-russia%E2%80%99s-north-caucasus.

Gordon M. Hahn, “Putin’s Fines and Searches: The End of the Thaw?,” Russia – Other Points of View, 3 July 2012, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2012/07/putins-fines-and-searches-the-end-of-the-thaw.html.

Gordon M. Hahn, “The ‘Reset’ and the War Against Jihadism,” Russia – Other Points of View, 21 June 2012, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2012/06/the-reset-and-the-war-against-jihadism.html.



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 http://csis.org/program/russia-and-eurasia-program.  All back issues temporarily remain archived at: http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/ghahn/report.

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, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com.  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: ghahn@miis.edu or gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net


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