Caucasus Jihadism through Western Eyes: The Failure of American Rusology to Understand the North Caucasus Mujahedin

The_Caucasus_Emirate

by Gordon M. Hahn

Introductory Note: The following was actually written as an introduction to my recently published book, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014). It took more than two years to find a publisher who would publish it. Several publishers that rejected the manuscript did so because the Introduction was ‘too polemical.’ Eventually I pulled this Introduction and made Chapter One of the book the new Introduction. A scholarly journal also refused to publish the piece, despite the near criminal negligence of media, academia, and think tank analytica exposed by its text. The removed Introduction is indeed polemical. Contrary to the field of terrorism and jihadism studies, in which the jihadi threat emanating from Russia’s North Caucasus has been obvious for two decades, the field of Russian studies, mired in political correctness and/or russophobia, has still not come to grips with the jihadi nature of the ‘violence in the Caucasus.’ Therefore, I have decided to publish this buried orphan of the North Caucasus mujahedin on my own. 

Introduction

“Allah willing, all of the brothers, who are carrying out Jihad in the entire world, are our brothers for the sake of Allah, and we all today are going on one road and this road leads to Paradise.  In Paradise, Allah willing, our brothers, who went earlier than us, and, Allah willing and we hope, we will be near the Prophet, if we will be sincere on this path and if we will sincerely establish Allah’s laws on this earth.”[1]  These are not the words of Al Qa`ida’s Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, or even the Taliban’s Mulla Omar.  They are the words of Dokku Umarov or, by his nom de guerre, Abu Usman, the amir of the mujahedin of Russia’s North Caucasus – the self-declared ‘Caucasus Emirate’ (CE) founded in October 2007 to supplant the radical national separatist movement of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya (ChRI) then in a period of steep decline.

The last fifteen years have witnessed the steady radicalization, jihadization, and globalization of the Muslim separatist movement in Russia’s North Caucasus.  What began in Chechnya as a nationalist struggle against Russian rule led by the so-called ‘Chechen Republic of Ichkeria’ (ChRI) evolved under the influence of domestic and Arab Salafi-jihadists into a struggle to establish an Islamic state throughout the ‘Muslim lands’ of the Russian Federation.  This trend was consolidated when in October 2007 the so-called ‘Caucasus Emirate’ (CE) was declared by almost all of the ChRI’s mujahedin in line with amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov’s instructions.  The CE is a full-blown jihadi terrorist network allied with the global jihadi revolutionary movement, having very little, if anything to do with Chechen or any other kind of nationalist separatism.  CE-affiliated websites now produce a steady stream of writings by the leading medieval, modern, and contemporary Islamist preachers and jihadist theorists propagandizing the global jihadi revolutionary movement and its totalitarian ideology.  Ideological radicalization has brought not only strategic radicalization but also tactical radicalization.  The jihadists are increasingly employing suicide bombings and mass murder of Russia’s civilians to chilling effect and championing on their websites the use of weapons of mass destruction against the ‘infidel.’  For now, the CE’s threat to use WMD terrorism remains on paper and the Internet, but Russia holds the largest stockpiles of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction.  This mix of WMD supply and jihadi terrorist demand in a single country is a potential perfect storm.  The threat it poses to Russian, U.S. and international security stands second only to the similar one emanating from Pakistan.

Despite these developments Western journalists, academics and terrorism analysts continue to ignore the Caucasus jihadists. As an article the liberal Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta once acknowledged: “We know so little about the (Caucasus) Emirate, because we do not want to know about it.”[2]  This sums up precisely the state of mind of Western journalists and academics.  There is not a single book focused on the CE’s theo-ideology, organizational structure, leadership, propaganda, recruitment, strategy, tactics and goals.  Full-length, detailed scholarly articles are a rarity; most have been written by the present author.  Rather than review the long and ignored history of the CE and the North Caucasus separatists’ road to jihadism, mass media have also ignored the CE as a viable, united, if decentralized jihadi network and organization, while they downplay and excuse the daily violence perpetrated by its mujahedin.  When jihadists send suicide bombers into Moscow’s subway system or take hostage and kill children in a Beslan school, Western officials, scholars, and the mainstream media usually refer to “Chechen separatism” and “rebels fighting for Chechen independence.”  In reality, the fight for Chechen independence has long ceased to exist; its place taken by a new front in the global jihadi revolutionary war.

The reasons for the preference in Russia not to know and cover the CE jihad are different from those in the U.S. and the West.  In Russia, state-run media limit coverage of the jihad so as not to sew panic, deter investment, provoke a Russian nationalist backlash and pogroms, and undermine the regime’s one-time claim to have the situation in the North Caucasus under control.  In the U.S., the lack of, and distortions in coverage are driven not from above by the state, but rather ‘from below’ by individuals, private organizations, and private interests with political agendas and strong biases.  Among liberals and leftists, the obsession with political correctness downplays or denies the jihadi threat in general, not just as it pertains to the North Caucasus.  This tendency is compounded by a political calculation that to abandon political correctness for the facts would undermine the cause of human rights and democratization in Russia.  Among many though certainly not all conservatives, a new russophobia is at work, a somewhat transformed leftover from the understandable and justifiable American ‘sovietophobia’ of the Cold War.  Many on the conservative side of the American political spectrum view Russia as eternally and irredeemably autocratic, imperialistic and expansionist.  The Soviet period, in this view, was simply a failed modern improvization on the traditional Russian theme of authoritarianism and imperialism.  Russia’s ‘behavior’ in the North Caucasus then is part and parcel of Russia’s culture of authoritarian brutality and a neo-imperial strategy of preserving the remnants and recolonizing lost pieces of its former empire, in particular in the Transcaucasus.

These political motives and biases lead to framing the jihad as amorphous ‘violence in the North Caucasus’ mostly committed by Russian and pro-Russian forces.  The ‘violence’ is then attributed only to Russian shortcomings and failures: the Russian and Soviet colonial legacy; excessive brutality and violations of civil, political and human rights; discrimination leading to a failure to develop the region socially and economically and thus high rates of unemployment among young males who then ‘go to the forest;’ and failure to provide security because of corruption and incompetence.  Only these explanations are given currency in the mainstream media, think tanks, and academia.  The Chechens and even the rarely mentioned mujahedin are portrayed as victims or even caricatured as freedom fighters.  The actions of the Chechens and other North Caucasians are rendered irrelevant under this paradigm; a reaction to Russian brutality, despite the Chechens’ perhaps leading and certainly equal role in fomenting both the first war and second post-Soviet Russo-Chechen wars and their close association with AQ in the inter-war period.  Deleted from the historical record are: the Dzhokar Dudaev-led opposition and then ChRI regime’s illegal seizure of power; the closing of parliaments; unfree and unfair elections and referenda that excluded ethnic Russians and Ingush from participation; ethnic cleansing of Russians; atrocities committed against Russian soldiers; positioning fighters and weapons near civilian sites during both wars; threats to raise one million mujahedin and explode nuclear-powered energy plants before the first war; and associations with global jihadists before the first war; among other things.[3]  Both liberals and conservatives, playing the distortion game, fear that acknowledging the failings and jihadi nature of Moscow’s opponents will make it more difficult to carry through their agendas.  In this way, the truth is sacrificed for an agenda and careers, long-staked on mistaken, biased, and disinforming ‘analysis.’

A lesser contributing factor to the absence of the Caucasus jihad in the journalistic, analytical, and academic literatures is considerable ignorance about the North Caucasus.  Ignorance about the region is the result in part of the lesser importance of its nationalities compared to others Soviet nationalities, given the secondary status of the region’s administrative-territorial units of ‘Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics’ within the Russian Socialist Federation of Soviet Republics (RSFSR of Russian Federation) below that of the Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs) that along with the RSFSR made up the USSR.  Thus, the North Caucasus republics played little to no role in the collapse of the USSR compared to the Baltic, Transcaucasus and Ukrainian SSRs.  This lack of attention has not been redressed by the North Caucasus’s lesser economic importance in the post-Soviet period.  Finally, it further derives from the necessary focus in the U.S. and the West on more central fronts in the war against jihadism.  But continued neglect of the Caucasus mujahedin could come back and bite, much as our pre-9/11 neglect of Al-Qa`ida and the Taliban has.  Thus, a confluence of factors – political correctness on the left, Russophobia on the right, and a general neglect and ignorance of the region – conspires to keep the facts from Western publics and governments to this day.

Jihad Ignored

Despite the fact that jihadization of the radical separatist ChRI in the 1990s was largely consolidated in 2002, certainly by 2005, we find little on the subject in the mainstream media, anaytical or academic communities.  What little we do have is woefully inaccurate and often deliberately distorted accounts of the nature of the conflict in the North Caucasus.  Often, these one-sided accounts are purveyed by recognized experts in the field of Russian, Caucasus, terrorism and jihadism studies.  As noted above, academia and think tank analysts have produced not a single book and but a handful of scholarly articles besides those of the present author.  U.S. mainstream mass media – New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and others – are in a grave state of denial and worse.  The noted publications mentioned the Caucasus Emirate once during the first two years of its existence (October 2007 – October 2009), despite the nearly 1,000 terrorist and insurgent attacks it perpetrated in that period.  Since then, the CE has received perhaps ten passing mentions in all of these publications taken together; this during a period when its operatives carried out an additional one thousand plus attacks on security, military, police and civilian officials and servicemen as well as innocent civlians.  Only two feature articles have appeared in the abovementioned U.S. mainstream media outlets in the last eight years; one in April 2003 and a second in October 2009.[4]  The latter was the first (and last) feature article on the CE and was published a full two years after its creation.  This in no way could suffice to detail the ChRI’s and the CE’s jihadist ideology, recount its record of atrocities which comprise most of the ‘violence’ in the North Caucasus,’ profile any of its leaders or their views and operational activities, or analyze its connections to the global jihadi revolutionary movement and AQ.  Indeed, almost all of this was left out of both articles.

The analytical and academic communities have done little better.  The Long War Journal’s year-end review of global jihadism for 2008 mentioned neither the North Caucasus nor Chechnya but did mention the equally active jihadi front in Algeria and the less fronts of Indonesia and the Philippines;[5] this, in a year when the Caucasus saw some 373 jihadi attacks and related violent incidents (see Chapter 4).  Similarly, a 2009 edited volume by leading experts on Russian security issues did not include an article on the Caucasus jihad.[6]

Jihad Obscured and Denied

When the amorphously described ‘violence in the North Caucasus’ is addressed, it is hard to recognize any jihadi aspect to it.  The U.S. mainstream media and academia typically write of vague “insurgents” and “rebels,” as if they are a disconnected set of homegrown terrorist without a leadership, organization, or identifiable ideological orientation.  For years, the media have kept from the American public the Caucasus mujahedin’s growing jihadization, their alliance with the global jihad, and the scale of daily violence it perpetrates against Russians and Muslims alike.  Instead of preventing these facts, they seek to shift all of the responsibility for the jihadists’ violence on to the Russians.  The standard approach is to discuss ‘violence in the North Caucasus,’ focusing on abductions and killings of civilians that are not claimed by the mujahedin but can be blamed plausibly on Moscow or loyal local authorities.  Only when major attacks are undertaken do they refer to ‘rebels’ and ‘militants’ and then without any reference to the CE.   The following are typical examples: “In April this year the Kremlin adopted the decision to lift the counterterrorism regime.  But already on 15 July a new wave of violence hit the region.  It was then that the well-known human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was kidnapped and murdered; and then, on 11 August, Zarema Sadulayeva, leader of the voluntary organization ‘Let Us Save the Generation’, and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov, met with the same fate.”[7]  The jihadi ‘violence’ mentioned in passing and in generic form as “a wave of violence” consisted of tens of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, carried out by the CE’s mujehedin.  Instead of mentioning these previous attacks, however, the journalist deftly shifted the focus onto two attacks that might be laid more readily, though not necessarily accurately at the Kremlin’s door.

One of the most astonishing examples of a journalist convoluting his text to avoid mention of the CE mujahedin came from Clifford Levy of the New York Times.  In his curiously titled July 2010 article “Russian Suicide Bomb Ring Foiled, Government Says,” the reader is introduced to what from the article’s wording is some mysterious transformation of women from the North Caucasus into “black widows” inexplicably donning exploding vests: “Officials indicated on Monday that they believed that the arrests of the six women prevented another attack by so-called Black Widows — young Muslim women from the Caucasus region who are turned into human bombs in Russian cities.”[8]  Just how these young Muslim women from the Caucasus are ‘turned into human bombs in Russian cities’ goes unsaid, not to mention unexamined.  Levy could have but chose not to inform readers about the long history of the CE’s suicide bombing batallion, its revival a year earlier by CE amir Umarov, and its operational record afterwards under the notorious young charismatic operative and propagandist Sheikh Said Abu Saad Buryatskii.  Born Alexander Tikhomirov, this ethnically mixed Buryat-Russian from Buryatiya in Siberia and the RSMB’s exploits would have made informative and fascinating reading and served the New York Times’ ostensible purposes of informing readers and selling newspapers.  Similarly, Levy and the Times could have informed its readers about the fact that both of the March 2010 Moscow subway suicide bombers were the wives of leading CE amirs; that one of them was the daughter of a well-known Dagestani Islamic scholar and had displayed radical Islamist tendencies; and that her parents’ claimed after the bombing but before posting on the Internet of the video of her suicide-bombing final testament that she was a normal girl who read fashion magazines and wore cosmetics.  All this, however, would require them to inform readers that: (1) the CE exists; (2) that its salafi-jihadi ideology and propaganda inform its suicide bombings; (3) the CE supports and maintains ties to AQ; (4) the CE and those it inspires has inflicted nearly 1,500 terrorist attacks and thousands of casualties; and perhaps most importantly (5) its declaration of jihad against their own and their readers’ country – something neither the Times nor any other media, academic or other outlet has informed Americans about.

Another good example of muddying the waters so jihad and jihadism remain unseen is New York Times correspondent Michael Schwirtz.  Referring to the June 2009 assassination attempt on Yevkurov organized by the CE’s Ingushetiya-based Sheikh Buryatskii, Schwirtz omits in an 18 August 2009 article the fact that the Ingush jihadists carried it out and claimed responsibility for it.[9]  In a 14 August 2009 article discussing fighting in Dagestan between security forces and the CE’s ‘Dagestan Vilaiyat’ mujahedin, Schwirtz writes: “Most of the violence centers on fighting between the police and various radical Islamist or more secular separatist organizations, some of which are remnants of the militant groups that fought federal forces in Chechnya’s two wars.  Also common is violence among organized crime groups and competing ethnic clans.”[10]  The reality, however, is that all known jihadi groups for which we have recent reports have taken the Islamist oath to CE amir Umarov.  There are no known ‘secular separatist organizations’ fighting in Dagestan or anywhere else in the Caucasus, and nothing suggests that any group other than the CE is responsible for almost all of the non-state organized violence in Dagestan.  Inter-clan violence pales in comparison with jihadi-related violence.  As usual, the New York Times simply chose to muddy the waters, so jihadism could be buried and its weight as a cause of the violence in the North Caucasus minimized.  The Wall Street Journal’s article covering these events was the only one to emphasize the jihadists and give at least some details on their recent activity.  Although the details were delivered a bit sketchily and there were the typical references to the generic “rebels” and “militants,” the paper deserves some credit for delving into the CE mujahedin.[11]

The CE jihad – though not in name – finally made Western newspapers on 17 August 2009 when a suicide bomber commandeered a truck bomb and detonated it at the entrance of the police headquarters in Nazran, the capitol of the Republic of Ingushetiya, killing more than 30 and wounding more than 200.  That republic had been the center of gravity of CE operations for two years running already, and jihadi terrorists had killed hundreds and wounded hundreds since there summer 2007.  The only times prior to this event when the North Caucasus made the U.S. mainstream media’s pages and airwaves were cases in which journalists working in the region were murdered.  Despite this apparent breakthrough, the reports on the August 17th terrorist attack were replete the same sorry obfuscations, clichés, and resulting distortions, all of which expunged from the story any idea of the CE as an organization waging jihad.  The distortion results in good part from the politically correct U.S. mainstream media’s reluctance to call things by their names.  The words “jihad,” “jihadist,” “Islamist,” “Caucasus Emirate,” “amir,” “shariah court,” “qadi” and the like are never used.  Personalities Caucasus Emirate amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman ‘Umarov,” Sheikh Said Abu Saad Buryatskii, ‘Seifullah’ Anzor Astemirov, Seifullah Gubdenskii Magomedali Vagabov, ‘Magas’ Akhmed Yevloev or ‘Magas’,” are absent.  Instead, we read of the vague “suspected rebel,” “gunmen,” “militant” (militant about what?), and their “militant groups,” “separatist violence,”  “apparent suicide attack” (by whom?), and “clashes” (between whom?).  Would these same papers write numerous articles about the wars in Afgahanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq without reference to the Taliban, Al Qa`ida, Lakshar-e-Toiba, or Hezbollah?[12]

The present author came face-to-face with U.S. mainstream media journalists’ inability to break its one-sided mold.  In April 2010 New York Times Moscow correspondent Ellen Barry telephoned the present author and spent two hours in conversation ostensibly in order “to learn about the Caucasus Emirate” mujahedin.  Since then, no article has appeared from Barry, the New York Times, or any other U.S. mainstream media outlet discussing the CE, and but a handful of articles has even mentioned it in passing.  However, within days Barry produced yet another article in the paper’s long-held, single-note variation on the North Caucasus theme, emphasizing Russian brutality but ignoring that of the mujahedin and the ideology that drives it.[13]

One cause of Western journalists’ one-sided approach to the Caucasus is its understandable corporate solidarity with fellow journalists and understandable empathy for colleagues murdered in the region.  Thus, while the CE is ignored, there have been many tens, if not hundreds of articles on the murders of journalists and activists working in the region, including one by Barry, titled morosely “Empty Chairs, Empty Tables, Empty Beds,” produced just a few months after her attempt to ‘learn about the Caucasus Emirate.’[14]  But the state’s real and alleged crimes cannot justify willful neglect of the CE, the region’s chief perpetrator of violence.  Indeed, in contrast to the Russian siloviki, the CE mujahedin proudly and publicly boast about their killings.  There are a many ‘empty chairs, empty tables, and empty beds’ in the North Caucasus and Russia, but the overwhelming majority of them are made empty by attacks perpetrated by the CE mujahedin.

Despite the more rigorous standards of research, evidence and argumentation supposedly extant in the academic and analytical communities, their record is similarly wanting.  Leading terrorism experts, like Marc Sageman, continue to refer to Chechnya and Chechens years after the movement has been filled with ethnic, Ingush, Dagestani (Avar, Dargin, Kumyk), Kabard, Adyg, even Russian, Buryat mujahedin, not to mention foreign jihadists and AQ operatives and the violence has shifted years previously to Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariya, Ingushetiya and elsewhere outside Chechnya.  Sageman even refers to “Russia’s intervention in Chechnya,” apparently as if it were a foreign country and, seemingly, a part of Central Asia.[15]  In 2010, a year when the number of attacks in Chechnya fell to their lowest level in years while those in Dagestan grew to an unprecedented level for any Russian region in the post-Soviet era, the resident Caucasus expert for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Thomas de Waal was still stuck on a ‘Chechen’ insurgency, claiming: “(V)iolence has increased in the last year, especially in Chechnya.”[16]

Some scholars try to simultaneously downplay the threat while claiming that it warrants further investments in the region’s socio-economic and democratic development and democratic governance.  Burdened by false assumptions and imprecise application of methodologies, a recent study by Theodore Gerber and Sarah Mendelson, argued for ‘security through sociology.” The authors falsely assume that radical Islam needs to be “popular” for a jihadi network to expand and that to prevent popularity improvements in security are not necessary but rather the noted investments.[17]  They then move from false assumption to faulty methodology.   Using completely irrelevant data, these political scientists argue against the warning in my own Russia’s Islamic Threat of “an expanding ‘Chechen-led network of Islamo-terrorists’.”[18]  Their data consist of the results of a public opinion survey of residents in three North Caucasus republics: Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariya (KBR), and North Ossetiya.  First, it should be obvious to anyone trained and even untrained in the social sciences that it is impossible to measure the extent to which a conspiratorial underground network is expanding through an opinion poll of the general population.  At a minimum, one needs to survey present or at least former mujahedin.  Second, the study’s temporal or static snapshot of public opinion in 2008 cannot possibly test whether or not there has been change across time in the dependent variable – the expanse of the network.  To come to a conclusion with any veracity on that point requires the conduct of before and after surveys.  Third, the authors’ research instrument is made even blunter by polling in only two (Dagestan and the KBR) of the four republics central to the CE activity.  Residents of Chechnya and Ingushetiya – respectively, the CE’s base republic and the republic where the highest and increasing levels of jihadi activity were recorded between 2007 through February 2010 (the period during which the surveys were conducted) – are not included.[19]  It should be obvious that in order to answer the question of whether the underground is expanding, one must study the network, the location of its cells and operations, not the network’s shadows as reflected in public opinion.  The data both in my own work presented herein as well as data produced later by a project run by one of this article’s very authors show that the CE network in fact has been expanding.[20]  Ingushetiya’s emergence as center of the CE jihadi terrorist network’s activity beginning in summer 2007 already had shown that the CE network in fact was expanding.  In sum, for whatever purpose, the study betrays a desire to support certain conclusions rather than to test them.  Another 2008 study came to the same erroneous finding.[21]

Other analysts, such as those from Stratfor Global Intelligence, as the Washington Times would note, “were initially skeptical about the Caucasus Emirate.”  It took Stratfor until April 2010 to acknowledge that “it is time to seriously examine the group and its leadership.”[22]  In addition to obscuring the nature of the ‘violence in the North Caucasus’ and downplaying the importance of the CE as an organized and growing jihadi network, the journalistic, academic, and analytical communities also ignored, downplayed, denied, and even covered up the ties between the Chechen/Caucasus mujahedin and the global jihadi revolutionary alliance, on the other.

Ignoring and Denying Global Jihadism in the Caucasus

A major strand in the story told by this book is the long-standing and gradually expanding ties between the ChRI and CE, on the one hand, and AQ and the global jihadi revolutionary alliance, on the other.  Journalist, academics, and analysts have consistently downplayed, denied, and disinformed about this connection.  Almost all American observers reject out of hand or regard as disinformation Putin’s statements associating the Chechen separatists and Caucasus mujahedin, on the one hand, with the global jihad and AQ, on the other.  Some journalists, like the Washington Post’s one-time point person on Russia, Anne Applebaum (the wife of no friend of Russia – the Polish foreign minister and former defense minister Radek Sikorski), made a veritable career out of downplaying that connection in order to shift the blame for jihadi attacks onto Russia’s authorities and secret services.  For example, in the wake of the AQ-backed jihadi invasion of Dagestan in 1999 (see Chapter 2) that, along with the Moscow and Volgadonsk apartment building bombings, kickstarted the second war, Applebaum issued this ‘dispassionate’ analysis: “I could point out that nobody except the Russians have linked the Chechens to international terrorism.  I could add that nobody has proven their connection to the still mysterious Moscow bombings.  But why should I or anyone else need to make either argument?  Given the history of this part of the world, it is not the Chechens who need to be defended from racist insults, but the Russians who need to explain the hubris that allows them to speak of the Chechens in anything but embarassed and apologetic tones.”[23]  We can leave aside a discussion of the degree of anti-Russian bias that could allow someone to dismiss out of hand the importance of whether or not Chechen separatists at the time had ties with ‘international terrorism’ – i.e., jihadi terrorism – and whether the former and/or the latter were behind the Moscow apartment bombings.  We must note, however, that this well-connected journalist left out four well-known American government and intelligence sources – U.S. State Department Deputy Chief for C.I.S. Affairs Stephen Stephanovich, U.S. National Security Council adviser Richard Clarke, U.S. Congress Commission on International Terrorism Chairman Joseph Bodanski, and the U.S. State Department’s annual report “Features of International Terrorism” – who had confirmed ChRI-AQ ties before Applebaum’s publication.[24]

In fact, Dagestani, Chechen, and AQ-tied foreign mujahedin had joined together and publicly issued calls for expanding the jihad into Dagestan for almost two years before Applebaum’s publication (see Chapter 2).[25]  Also, the notorious and already well-known Saudi jihadi Ibn al-Khattab, born Samir Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem (aka Habib Abdul Rahman),[26] who had arrived in Chechnya some four years earlier as AQ’s operative in the Caucasus, had just recently threatened such attacks.  Khattab’s close Chechen associate Shamil Basaev acknowleged that the Dagestanis were behind them and took responsibility for the Moscow apartment bombings in respective interviews in a Czeck newspaper.[27]  DIA and other documents discussed in the next chapter show the close ties between Osama bin Laden and the August 1999 invasion of Dagestan by hundreds even more than a thousand AQ-funded and trained Chechen, Dagestani, and foreign mujahedin under the command of Khattab and Basaev, sparking the second war.

Suicide bombing expert Robert Pape displayed a determination to ignore the real facts as well as the limited value of large-N studies at the expense of detailed research on particular jihadi organizations and cultural expertise when writing about ‘Chechen suicide bombers’ who were in fact Dagestani.  “Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad,” he wrote.  Not only did Pape provide little evidence to support this assertion, but he seems to have deliberately falsified the record in willful disdain for the facts.  Pape and company write that CE’s amir Doku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov (whom he refers to obliquely as “one of Chechnya’s leading rebel commanders”) has “made clear that his campaign was not about restoring any Islamic caliphate, but about Chechen independence.”[28]  The authors support this completely unsustainable claim by referencing a single inconclusive, immaterial, indeed irrelevant statement by Umarov: “’This is the land of our brothers and it is our sacred duty to liberate these lands.’” [29]  First, there is, of course, no mention in this quote of either Chechnya or Chechens.  Second, anyone with even superficial knowledge of global and CE’s jihadists would know that “brothers” refers to fellow Muslims across the ummah.  Third, Pape never pursues what exactly the CE means by its “lands.”[30]

The following data will be laid out and documented in greater detail in later chapters, but suffice it to summarize them here to debunk Pape’s patently false claims.  Besides the quotation from Umarov that begins this chapter, another quotation from amir Umarov in April 2009 is equally as instructive as the one used by Pape:

Today we try to bring up every Mujahid, every young man from Caucasus, on following criteria: the first is Tawhid, the second is Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the third is al-Wala’ wa-al-Bara’, it is love toward your brother for Allah’s sake, and hatred toward the enemy for Allah’s sake, the fourth is to command good and forbid evil, so that a person would do good and so that a person would forbid evil, and the fifth is so that every young man who is striving today after Islam, a man who feels himself inside Islam, so that he believes in the four previous points, and so that he practices them from the heart, with pure intentions, and so that he is sure after that, that Allah will grant him victory, that Allah will lead him to that goal, which he has at heart.”[31]

Umarov makes no mention here of Chechnya, national independence, or anything of the kind; his sole concerns are the Caucasus, Islam, the mujahedin’s fervent submission to Allah in radical Islamist terms, and the jihad.

Regarding what Umarov means by ‘lands’, upon becoming amir in 2006 Umarov immediately added the far away Urals and Volga Fronts to the Caucasus and Dagestan Fronts established by his predecessor.[32]  Obvioulsy, targeting Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, located nearly a thousand miles from Chechnya and the North Caucasus has nothing to do with Chechen independence.  In the months before and after publication of Pape’s article, a February 2010 interview with Umarov was featured on the first page of the CE’s main website.  It was titled with a very different quote from Umarov than that misused by Pape: “We will liberate Krasnodar Krai, Astrakhan and the Volga lands.”[33]  The CE’s websites post maps that depict the future emirate’s territory as comprising the entire North Caucasus, including predominantly ethnic-Russian populated regions like the abovementioned Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories.  Russian territory north of the CE’s North Caucasus and the Transcaucasus south of the North Caucasus – that is, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – are labeled “occupied Muslim lands”.[34]  Although the Caucasus mujahedin have had limited success in establishing their ‘combat jamaats’ outside the North Caucasus, there have been some temporary successes and incursions as far away as in Bashkortostan and perhaps Tatarstan.  As subsequent chapters show, the CE has robust networks of jihadi combat jamaats in Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariya, and Ingushetiya in addition to Chechnya, which was the weakest vilaiyat (Arabic for province) of the four main network hubs.  Most fundamentally, Umarov’s declaration of the founding of the CE claimed not only domain over the the entire North Caucasus from the Caspian to Black Seas, but it also included a declaration of jihad against the U.S., Great Britain, Israel and any country fighting Muslims anywhere on the globe.[35]

CE propagandists have laid out their expansive ambitions that extend not just far beyond Chechnya but beyond the Caucasus and even Russia, as I show in the next chapter: “(A)fter the liberation of the Caucasus, Jihad will begin in Idel-Ural and Western Siberia.  And, of course we will be obligated to assist with all our strength in the liberation of our brothers’ lands from the centuries-long infidel yoke and in the establishment there of the laws of the Ruler of the Worlds.  It is also possible that our help will be very much needed in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, and Allah as ordered us to render it.  And we, Allah willing, will destroy the laws of the infidel on the Central Asian lands in league with the mujahedin of Afghanistan.”[36]  These facts have never been mentioned in any U.S. mainstream media outlet.

The Jamestown Foundation’s coverage of the Caucasus jihad should gain infamy some day for the following:

Russia has increasingly sought to present its engagement with the problems of the North Caucasus as a struggle with terrorism.  Following the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, DC, on 11 September 2001, the government was quick to associate the militants in the North Caucasus with the global jihadi movement and to cast Russia’s actions in the region as part of the ‘war on terrorism’ (insurgent groups in the North Caucasus are habitually identified as terrorists, criminals or bandits and accused of links with international jihadi groups).  Russia’s leaders have adopted an uncompromising tone.  Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has argued, ‘whoever hopes we start negotiations [with militants in Chechnya], let them go and start negotiating with Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar’.”[37]

This was written less than two years after Beslan, a year after one of Russia’s worst years of jihadi terrorism (2005), and many years after the Caucasus jihadists’ ties to AQ and other global jihadists were wll-known to terrorism experts, security analysts and officials, as noted above.

The mainstream media goes to great lengths to excise any mention of the CE mujahedin’s goal of establishing Taliban-like enforcement of Shariah law the global mujahedin seek to install; for example, the CE’s harsh Islamist strictures in relation to women have never been alluded to even indirectly.  In contrast to that silence, media and academia immediately reacted to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s implementation of a few watered-down elements of Shariah law.  The Washington Post printed an entire piece by Kathy Lally focused on Kadyrov’s demand that Chechen women wear headscarves:

In Grozny, women too frightened to be named told a reporter that women cannot enter public buildings without headscarves, and employers order them to cover their heads at work. Women here traditionally wore a wide headband but did not entirely cover their hair. During the wars, they kept Chechnya running while men either fought or hid at home so that they would not be rounded up by Russian soldiers. Now many of them feel hounded by men emboldened by Kadyrov to harass them.

Last summer, women were shot with paint balls as they walked on Putin Avenue, their heads uncovered. The assailants were dressed in police uniforms.

“Let the world know we are here,” one of the women said. “If we are heard, it gives us hope.”[38]

The CE, of course, would brutally enforce much stricter measures if it were ever to come to power, and its mujahedin are already using bullets and bombs to establish Shariah law.  Their murders of prostitutes in brothels and lovers in parked cars have never been mentioned in any mainstream media or academic article other than my own.

The same denial and coverup has been the rule regarding the ChRI’s and CE’s use of the global mujahedin’s trademark tactics – beheading and suicide bombing.  For example, Applebaum tried to claim that Putin was behind the 1998 kidnappings and beheadings of four British aid workers in Chechnya, despite the role – well-known at the time – played by the inter-war ChRI government and foreign jihadists in numerous similar attacks:

The killing of four engineers served whose interest: Chechnya’s or Russia’s? Nevertheless, in the case of the four engineers, the most logical question has not been asked: In whose interest were they killed? In the Chechen interest? Surely not. The men were there because Chechnya, a country virtually without telephones of any kind, wanted them there…

Much though I would like to, I will not now connect the dots and tell you that Putin was responsible for the deaths of the British engineers.  He was not prime minister then (merely a secret policeman).  The war was not in full swing (although plenty of Russian secret police were in Chechnya).  More to the point, it is considered unserious, impolitic and even hysterical to accuse Russian statesmen of exploding buildings or killing foreigners in the interests of their presidential campaigns.

Nevertheless, it might be worth remembering the parting words of my acquaintance, the Chechen parliamentarian — who, as I said, walked over the Dagestani mountains to say this: Next time you read about the devious activity of some shadowy renegade group in Chechnya, just think twice before you believe it.[39]

In Applebaum’s ‘account’ – one devoid of any evidence but much bias and outrage – then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to blame for kidnappings that occurred in December 1998, when there were no Russian troops but hundreds of foreign jihadis and thousands of their well-armed Chechen and other North Caucasian allies in Chechnya.  The region was in chaos under a reign of terror and internecine warfare carried out by competing Chechen clans and foreign jihadi groups.[40]  The actual evidence now shows that it was well-known jihadi-oriented Chechen field commander Arbi Baraev and his partners, the five Akhmadov brothers who almost certainly were behind the beheadings.  Another hostage who was held by Baraev told the BBC that Baraev had told him that he was paid $30 million by AQ for the beheadings of the British engineers.[41]  Nevertheless, Applebaum offered no correction or mea culpa.  Instead, eleven years later she and others, including suicide bombing expert Robert Pape, were still at it, obscuring the reality behind the March 2010, Moscow subway suicide bombings, as discussed in a later chapter [42]

A recent article in the prestigious and influential journal Foreign Affairs continued proselytizing the myth.  The authors, Charles King and Rajan Menon, claim that the literature on the Caucasus jihad is burdened by a “single-factor fallacy”: “Explanations for the upheaval and violence in the North Caucasus tend to seize on a single root cause.  The rise of radical Islam is often cited first.”[43]  Unlike the preceeding sections herein, the authors provide no data, evidence or argumentation to support this claim.  In fact, as I have noted, this would be impossible since there are few books or articles that emphasize the rise of Islamism and jihadism in the North Caucasus, and those that do were either published before the CE was formed in 2007 or are focused more on Russian strategy and tactics rather than the CE itself.[44]  The irony of the article is that its only mention of Islam comes in a brief section devoted to arguing against the importance of Islam as a cause of the Caucasus jihad.  One does not meet in the article any of the following words: jihad, jihadism, jihadis, jihadists, mujahedin, mujahed, Caucasus Emirate, amir, amirs, etc.  The words ‘Islamism’, ‘Islamist’, and ‘Islamists’ appear in total a handful of times; they are used in passing and only in the discussion that claims the Islamist factor gets far too much attention.  Neither the CE, amir Umarov, nor the CE jihadists’ Islamist theology, ideology, goals, strategy, nor tactics are ever mentioned by the authors.  The CE jihadists’ ties to the global jihadi revolutionary movement and AQ, of course, go unmentioned.  That the article’s title refers to “Russia’s invisible civil war” rather than ‘Islamic jihad’ or ‘Islamic insurgency’ is indicative and the article follows through with its sole focus on Moscow’s policies.[45]

Some analysts have been engaged in outright advocacy for the Chechen mujahedin, something that has colored their work to the point of cherrleading for the ChRI and CE.  U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has agitated actively to deny the existence or at least play down the seriousness of the Caucasus Emirate and to support the radical Chechen national separatists, who have fought against Moscow and at times allied themselves with and supported the ChRI’s and CE’s jihadists.  In one of the most striking examples, RFERL’s chief Caucasus correspondent Liz Fuller essentially heaps praise on the Caucasus Emirate’s ‘fatherly’ amirs: “If these young men (the CE’s younger mujahedin) have not become the callous brutes Khasbulatov anticipated, much of the credit must surely lie with the older commanders who were fathers before they became fighters, and have since assumed the role of father figures to the younger generation of insurgents: the natural-born pedagogue Abdullayev; Tarhan; Mansur; and even Umarov, seen receiving a filial embrace from Hadji-Murat at the very end of this clip.”[46]  This ode was written on the same day that two CE mujahedin carried out suicide bombings in Gubden, Dagestan killing and wounding tens of Muslims and only three weeks after another bomber trained by the CE ‘fathers’ had detonated his suicide belt in Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing 25 and wounding 180 civilians.  A month after her ode to the fathers, RFERL published Fuller’s fawning eulogy “Remembering Mansur” in honor of Chechen amir and “Islamic scholar” ‘Mansur’ Arbi Yevmirzaev of the ChRI mujahedin until Umarov’s declaration of the CE in October 2007, who then fought independently until he was killed in March 2010:

Every insurgency produces its share of legendary leaders; but not all such men are unconditionally respected and loved by their comrades-in-arms.  One who met those criteria was the Chechen commander and Islamic scholar Arbi Yovmirzayev (nom de guerre Sheikh Mansur), who died one year ago after treading on a land mine during a trek from one mountain base to another.  He was 37.  The fighter who sat by his head as he lay dying on a snow-covered hillside was openly weeping….

“The numerous video clips featuring Yovmirzayev, posted on YouTube and on the website djama1at.com, testify to his physical courage, his total dedication to the cause of Chechen independence, and his unfailing cheerfulness.
He was wounded at least twice: in 2006 he sustained a serious chest wound, apparently from a shell fragment, and two years later he was wounded in the leg. (We see him here giving a running commentary as he cleans and dresses that wound himself.)

“In footage filmed just a couple of days before his death, he is seen joking with two fellow fighters digging a new hideout. But even here he swiftly turns serious, warning: “We’re preparing for a fight. We are not the sort to talk big. We know we were created weak. But if the occupiers don’t leave us in peace, we’ll make them run screaming for their mothers.[47]

RFERL has functioned almost as a mouthpiece for Akhmed Zakayev, former Chechen filed commander, the former ChRI’s London-based “foreign minister” and leader of its putatively ‘moderate’ nationalist and Sufi-oriented wing, despite his long-standing ties and assistance to ChRI and CE terrorists (see below).  Zakaev was given two full-length interviews in 2010 alone, and between November 2006 and April 2011 he has been quoted in more than sixty RFERL pieces.[48]  The CE, on the other hand, was mentioned in fewer than 25 articles, and was not featured in any article.  RFERL has repeatedly played up Zakayev’s completely unsubstantiated claim that Umarov’s declaration of the CE was the result of an operation by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to discredit the ChRI by manipulating Umarov into declaring a holy war and thereby connect it to the global jihad and AQ.[49]  That such bias was coming from an organization tied or funded by the U.S. government explains some of the testy remarks and suspicions expressed by Russian officials about Washington’s role in the region and American double standards regarding Russia and the ‘war on terror.’

Kto Kogo?

In certain circles, there is a persistent unwillingness to attribute to the Chechen and Caucasus jihadists any responsibility for terrorism; this is especially so when it comes to Americans commenting on the mujahedin’s activity in Russia.  Jihadi atrocities are almost always described as a reaction to Russian oppression and brutality in U.S. mainstream media (and academia); Russian atrocities are never described as a reaction to jihadi terrorism.  This approach allows all responsibility not only for the violence Russian security and police forces undertakes but that inflicted by CE mujahedin as well.  When major terrorist attacks occur, Russian and Chechen authorities are immediately blamed or at least held responsible for attacks either because of their brutality, corruption and/or incompetence or because they allegedly organized the attacks themselves.  This is often done by quoting biased American or opposition Russian experts who will issue the right kind of snap analysis.  Any reference even to the environment created by the jihadist ideology and foreign fighters is usually excluded from such reports, let alone a recounting of the CE’s record of organizing similar attacks replete with videotaped final testaments by suicide bombers and claims of responsibility by their CE handlers and amirs.  When the mujahedin claim responsibility for an attack, it usually goes unmentioned and is never dwelt upon.  The jihadists are rarely, if ever the object of focus; the spotlight is always immediately turned on Russian acts that ostensibly caused the jihaidts to attack.

Indeed, the standard approach is to blame Russia entirely for the rise of Islamism in the region, as if the Internet did not exist, Islam was not a conductor of radical Islamism, foreign mujahedin had never fought in the region, and Caucasus mujahedin have never been trained, financed, or otherwise supported by Al Qa`ida and other global jihadi elements.  After the June 2004 raid by mujahedin on the Interior Ministry (MVD) headquarters in Nazran, Ingushetiya, which killed the republic’s Interior Minister among tens of others, former US National Security Adviser American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC) Chairman Zbigniew Brzezinski responded: “Putin is reaping what he has sown.  Through his policies in Chechnya, he has promoted the kind of violence and instability we now see in Ingushetiya.”  “It is little wonder these attacks occurred,” noted ACPC Executive Director Glen Howard.  “Over the last eight months, federal troops have systematically attempted to forcibly repatriate Chechen refugees in Ingushetia.  Indiscriminate security sweeps, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings associated with this campaign have antagonized the local population to the point where an outbreak of violence was almost inevitable.”[50]  Neither Brzezinski nor Howard noted that the raid was led by global jihadist Shamil Basaev, who was not a resident of Ingushetiya and had declared jihad and the ‘liberation’ of the entire North Caucasus as his goal six years earlier (see Chapter 2).

The problem with the view that jihadism – whether in the form of individual jihadi attacks or the rise of jihadism – should be obvious to anyone familiar with the jihadists’ ideology and goals and the local cultures in which jihadism emerges.  First, the jihadi ideology dictates the establishment of a worldwide caliphate.  This offensive strategy means that attacks would be carried out regardless of the authorities’ actions.  For example, as I show in my discussion of the March 2010 twin suicide bombing on the Moscow subway, the claim by CE amir Umarov, picked up by many journalists, that the attack was revenge for the killing of some ten hunters in Arshty, Ingushetiya a month earler lacks any credibility.  Umarov had announced less than a year earlier that he had revived the suicide battallion for carrying out such attacks deep inside Russia.  The only caveat is that the leaders who proselytize the ideology and organize attacks require followers.  The leaders and some followers would carry out attacks regardless.  The authorities’ actions only influence the number of foot soldiers jihadi leaders will have at their disposal.

The other factor is that many jihadi attacks provoke retaliation by the security forces.  At times this may be the all too human desire for revenge; after all the state and its security forces are made up of human beings too.  An aggravating factor in traditional cultures, such as that in the North Caucasus, is the custom of blood revenge.  So when mujahedin kill someone, the security forces can be enlisted by serving family members to exact revenge.  Media and academic recountings of such state crimes omit the undeniable fact that they are often more a function of the North Caucasus’s traditions of clan politics, blood revenge, and violence than of official counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency policy and Moscow’s albeit heavy-hand.  This is not just the opinion of the present author but of scholars native to the North Caucasus of North Caucasus nationality.[51]  Given the relevance of ideology and culture, analytical lapses to some extent can be attributed to political science’s abandonment of area studies and foci on culture and ideology for a singular emphasis on behavioralism, modeling, and number-crunching.  However, in my view, a good deal of the inaccuracy and distortion in analyses is the result of bias and passionate advocacy overcoming dispassionate analysis.

Think Tank Advocacy

Some U.S. think tanks have gone beyond analysis to advocacy and in the bargain come dangerously close to aiding and abetting the ChRI and CE by politically supporting elements with former, indirect, and perhaps direct ties to ChRI and CE mujahedin.  On April 14, 2006 the Jamestown Foundation held a conference on the insurgent Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya’s then recently created Caucasus Front established by then ChRI president/amir Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev in order to expand the increasingly jihadi-dominated insurgency to the entire North Caucasus.  Dr. Paul Murphy, former U.S. government counter-terrorism official and author of the book Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror[52] and the website Russia and Eurasia Terrorism Watch (RETWA), attended and described the conference:

(W)e did attend the conference and can say that we were struck by its anti-Russia flavor.  Contrary to examining recent events in the North Caucasus in a non-biased manner, the common thread that ran through most presentations was that Russia is singularly to blame for the terror in Russia– that terrorists are only reacting to ‘the Kremlin’s repressive regime.’  Moreover, RETWA was left with the distinct impression that some of the speakers were far from ‘independent’ experts. For example, Mairbek Vatchagayev was introduced to the audience as a Chechen historian and a Ph.D candidate at the L’École des Haute Études en Science Sociales, Paris.  He is far more than a historian. Even a simple Internet search identifies Vatchagayev as Aslan Maskhadov’s former press secretary, spokesman and representative.[53]

In his talk Vatchagaev, the main speaker introduced merely as a professor from Paris, predicted the emergence of a jihadi combat jamaat among the Circassian Adygei people in Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Adygeya.[54]  Weeks later such an Adygeya-based group announced it was “joining the Jihad.”[55]  What connections Vatchagaev retained among the ChRI, if any, remain unclear, but this episode perhaps suggests some.

Not surprisingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry protested the conference, in response to which the Jamestown Foundation issued a statement claiming that it was acting properly, and it provocatively invoked U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney as a “a long time friend and supporter of the Jamestown Foundation,” as if to cause a deterioration in U.S.-Russian relations that would certainly be a favor to the ChRI.[56]  Jamestown then used the Russians’ reaction as ‘evidence’ of Moscow’s “fear of free speech.”[57]  From Murphy’s account, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s sense of the meeting’s tenor does not seem to have been too far off the mark.  Thus, it seems that Jamestown Foundation could reasonably be perceived as supporting people who had ties with Caucasus mujahedin.  The entire episode seemed geared to goad Moscow into an overreaction.  Such efforts might be good for fundraising among certain constituencies, but they hardly contribute to the war against jihadism or better U.S.-Russian relations no less constitute the pursuit of objective analysis.

Jamestown continued to flirt with the CE mujahedin when in March 2010 it joined with some in Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgian government to support Circassian nationalist claims in the North Caucasus.  The Circassians encompass several traditionally Muslim peoples, including Kabardins, Cherkess, Adygs, Shapsugs, Abazins, and Abkhaz.  A conference held in Tbilisi in March 2010 and organized by several organizations, including the Jamestown Foundation, urged the Georgian parliament to declare as genocide the exile of most of the North Caucasus’s Circassian population to Ottoman Empire as Russia conquered the region in the 1860s.  The conference also urged a boycott of the 2014 Olympic Games Russia will be hosting in Sochi, which was Circassian-populated territory before the massacres, exile, and deportations.  Jamestown has carried numerous articles on this subject, including one highlighting the conference, as well as interviews with Russia’s leading Circassian jihadist ‘Seifullah’ Anzor Astemirov, who was the chief judge of the CE mujahedin and leader of one of its sub-structures covering Circassian and Alan (Balkar and Karachai) regions of the North Caucasus before being killed in March 2010.[58]  The Caucasus Emirate mujahedin clearly saw this as a contribution to its propaganda efforts, since it published a Russian-language version of the interview.[59]  In democratic Britain, one should recall, it was once a crime to publish interviews with IRA terrorists.

At the same time, Vatchagaev continues to carry water for the CE in his Jamestown Foundation publications.  In October 2010, when Georgian opposition figures, like democrat Nino Burjanadze, charged the Saakashvili administration with financing the CE and even training its Ingush mujahedin, Vatchagaev harshly condemned Saakashvili’s accusers, asserting that Burjanadze’s statements “had no foundation” and that she had done little in government when the Georgian state, in Vatchagaev’s words, “tried to please the Russians using every means and when tens (sic) of Chechens were killed by Russians… A stab in the back.  And now, in order to criticize your opponents you will suggest that Georgia kneels before the Kremlin.”[60]   Responding to the arrest of Chechens in Belgium suspected along with a group of Moroccan jihadis of planning terrorist attacks in Belgium and funneling recruits and money to the CE using an AQ-affiliated website (see Chapter 2),  Vatchagaev called the arrests one of several European “anti-Chechen demarches,” even as he acknowledged that those arrested likely had ties to the CE.[61]  The point here is not that Mr. Vatchagaev does not have a right to his opinion but rather whether a prestigious U.S. think tank is producing objective or strongly biased analysis and advocacy.

Another prime example of advocacy masquerading as analysis was the recent contradictory testimony given by one National Endowment for Democracy representative before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held at the U.S. Congress in April 2011.  Mirian Lanskoy claimed: “It is a mistake to see Chechnya and the North Caucasus as a local front in a global war.  Even though the religious radicals have gained the upper hand within the resistance, nationalism remains very strong.  Local and national motivations are dominant.  For instance, the siege of the school in Beslan in North Ossetia, the most awful act of terrorism in the North Caucasus, was related to the Osset-Ingush conflict.”  There is absolutely no evidence to support any of these statements, except for her words about the jihadists’ dominance within the “resistance” and the Beslan siege being the most horrific terrorist attack carried out to date in the North Caucasus.  An inability to face the rise of jihadism in the Caucasus squarely in the face is evident in Lanskoy’s self-contradictory assertion that, on the one hand, the “religious radicals have gained the upper hand” and, on the other, “(l)ocal and national motivations are dominant.”[62]

Western Governments and the Caucasus Mujahedin

Given the journalistic, academic, analytical, and advocacy communities’ complete failure and, in many cases, willful refusal to understand the CE and jihadism in the North Caucasus, it is no surprise that the U.S. government is often provided with an inaccurate picture of the violence in the North Caucasus.  Hence, the U.S. government often does little better than do journalism and academia in defining the threat.  In his February 3, 2010 briefing, U.S. Director for National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell could not put the North Caucasus insurgency and jihadism (“radical Islamist penetration”) together.  Reporting on the National Threat Assessment for 2010, he noted: “On the domestic front, Moscow faces tough policy choices in the face of an uptick in violence in the past year in the chronically volatile North Caucasus, which is fueled in part by a continuing insurgency, corruption, organized crime, clan competition, endemic poverty, radical Islamist penetration, and a lagging economy that is just beginning to recover from the global economic crisis.  Some of the violence elsewhere in Russia, such as a deadly train bombing in late November 2009, may be related to instability in the North Caucasus” (my emphases).[63]  Of course, by the time this assessment was being delivered, “radical Islamist” elements in the region were more indigenous than foreign and were the essence of the “insurgency,” and some of the violence elsewhere in Russia was more than “related to instability” – it was perpetrated by jihadi terrorists.  Just like the mass media and academia, the U.S. government has difficulty ‘calling things by their names’, as Russians like to say.

Fortunately, the U.S. government has other sources of information on the CE, including intelligence, military and diplomatic sources.  Apparently, those sources tell a different story than the one offered by journalistic, academic, and the Washington think tank communities.  In July 2010, the U.S. State Department finally included CE amir Umarov on its official list of specially designated international terrorist actors and organizations.  But there was no obvious reason for excluding the entire organization from the list.  Would it be logical to include Osam bin Laden on the list but not AQ? In the end, it would be more than three and a half years from Umarov’s declaration of the CE and jihad against the U.S. Britain, and Israel for the U.S. government to take this step, not to mention that these same mujahedin were engaged in terrorism under the CE’s predecessor organization, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeriya.  The U.S. State Department finally placed the CE on its list of specially designated international terrorist organizations on 26 May 2011.[64]  The State Department also announced a U.S. government offer of a $5 million reward to anyone providing information leading to amir Umarov’s location.[65]

Some Western governments effectively have aided and abetted the CE jihadists.  For example, in 2001 Great Britain granted asylum to the abovementioned Akhmed Zakaev.  That asylum was granted at the same time he was holding a leadership position in a terrorist organization along with the likes of Shamil Basaev and which included the AQ’s Khattab.  In their reporting on Zakaev, the U.S. mainstream media have repeatedly left out some of the controversial history of his long record as a member of the ChRI insurgency, first as its culture minister and then, during the second war and insurgency as its ‘foreign minister.’  Zakaev’s biography and recent activities are crucial for assessing the appropriateness of granting him refugee status.  During the inter-war period of Chechnya’s quasi-independence under the Khasavyurt peace agreement with Moscow, Zakaev served as the head of the ChRI’s Central Bank; a bank that likely received funds from the hostage trade industry that members of the ChRI government and some of its field commanders developed in this period.  He fought briefly in the second war kicked off by the August 1999 invasion of Dagestan by the AQ-tied jihadist wing of the ChRI interim government; he was wounded and fled abroad in 2001.  The Central Bank’s funds disappeared when Zakaev left for abroad, and it is certainly possible that he absconded with some of them.

Zakaev remained the ChRI’s culture minister as it went underground after defeat on the traditional battlefield and became increasingly a jihadist insurgency.  Zakaev remained so even after ChRI commanders maintained ties to AQ and carried out the 2002 Dubrovka theatre hostage-taking, the 2004 Beslan hostage-taking, and other mass terrorist attacks against civilians (and non-civilians).  He remained so after the ChRI declared its new goal of creating an Islamist state and the ChRI underground command adopted Shariah law in 2002.  He remained so after the ChRI began to expand operations to the entire North Caucasus in 2003.  He remained so after the ChRI institutionalized its expanded operational scope in 2005 by creating Dagestan Fronts, Ingush and Kabardino-Balkariya Sectors, when he was vice premier under ChRI president/amir Abdul Khalim Sadulaev.  He remained so after the ChRI created Urals and Volga Fronts targetting Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and other Russian regions far away from Chechnya and the North Caucasus.  Zakaev remained inside the ChRI and allied with the jihadists while he debated with them on the merits of the semi-secular ChRI versus a fully theocratic state project.[66]  He broke way from the jihadists only in October 2007 when amir Umarov declared the ChRI defunct and founded the CE in its place.  The CE’s declaration had been the culmination of a long, ongoing jihadization of the ChRI.  For his part, Zakaev rarely if ever condemned any of the hundreds of ChRI terrorist operations until he and the nationalists were jittisoned by Umarov and the CE.  Indeed, sitting in London, he frequently championed the ChRI’s attacks.  One day before the 22 June 2004 night raid on several districts in Ingushetiya ( in which 28 civilians were killed and tens were injured along with 18 to 30 law enforcement killed and another hundred injured) Zakaev said in an interview that “our fighters themselves will bring the battle to the federal and coercive structures of the pro-Russian authorities” and pointed to the change in tactics adopted in June 2004 involving the expansion of jihad across the North Caucasus detailed in Chapter 3.[67]

To some degree, it was really the CE that broke with Zakaev, more than Zakaev broke with the CE.  In an August 2005 audiotaped letter to Udugov, then ChRI president Sadulaev said that he had already warned Zakaev that a declaration of an “Islamic State” requiring strict compliance with Shariah law for all involved in the ChRI was inevitable and coming soon and that Zakaev had raised the possibility that he would abandon the ChRI in that event.[68]  When Umarov declared the CE in October 2007, he abolished Zakaev’s government-in-exile in London before Zakaev had a chance to reject the establishment of the CE.  The tipping point may have come when Zakaev condemned Umarov’s founding of the CE as a false flag project designed by the FSB to divide and discredit the separatist movement.  The impression he tried to foster that this was a sudden move by Umarov is belied by the abovementioned August 2005 Sadulaev letter to Udugov.[69]

It remains unclear whether Zakaev would have remained with the CE, if CE ‘amir’ Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov had not abolished the ChRI government.  In fact, even after the CE break with the ChRI, Zakaev admitted he had fighters in Chechnya – one was Islamic scholar amir ‘Mansur’ Arbi Yevmirzaev – who remained loyal to him and his government-in-exile.[70]  Zakaev’s website continued until 2009 to report proudly not only on Yevmirzaev’s operations but those carried out by CE mujahedin across the Caucasus.  Add to this, the very real possibility that Zakaev and another high profile Russian asylee status in London, Boris Berezovskii, were possibly supplying funds and/or weapons to the Caucasus mujahedin.  Berezovskii and Zakaev are often together in London, and both are pledged the overthrow of the Russian regime.  Although Zakaev’s Chechnepress.org ceased reports on jihadi attacks and soon closed down in 2009 when Zakaev began to negotiate his return home with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, such reports resumed after the talks broke down.[71]  Although the new Chechenpress.org has been critical of the CE, it continues to publish reports of the insurgents’ attacks.

When the CE’s ‘Nokchicho Vilaiyat’ (NV) or Chechen mujahedin split from Umarov in August-September 2010, Zakaev stated he had been “in regular contact” with one of the splitters and leading CE terrorists, Aslanbek Vadalov, who amir Umarov designated his successor days before the split.[72]  After the Umarov-Vadalov split, Zakaev resigned from his position as premier of the London-based ChRI government-in-exile and declared his loyalty and that of his ‘government’ to, and their recognition of the legitimacy of Vadalov and his independent NV (INV) mujahedin for the duration of the ‘war.’[73]  Upon peace and a sovereign ChRI state his civilian ‘government’ would presumably become supreme.  Zakaev claimed to have taken these steps because the breakaway INV amirs “had distanced themselves from the mythical formation under the title ‘emirate’ and intend to return to the legal field of Ichkeria.”[74]  But in fact, as discussed in another chapter, the INV amirs had already restated their loyalty to the CE and jihad for the liberation of all Muslims.  The INV mujahedin only renounced their loyalty to CE amir Umarov.  Thus, Zakaev’s pledge of loyalty and subordination to the INV constitutes direct involvement in a terrorist organization.

In October 2010 mujahedin carried out an attack similar to the September attack on Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s residence in Tsentoroi, using several suicide bombers against Chechnya’s parliament building.  Kadyrov and Russian Federation Council Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Troshin attributed the attack to the INV mujahedin.[75]  Kadyrov claimed the INV and Zakaev were behind the attack.[76]  The INV neither denied nor claimed responsibility, but Zakaev denied having any connection to the attack.[77]  The INV’s possible lack of access to electronic media at this time and the CE’s failure to take responsibility for the attack both suggest that Zakaev’s allies were behind it.  Regardless, the fact that Zakaev is again openly supporting mujahedin fighting Russia in the Caucasus raises serious questions about the propriety and legality of his status as a refugee in Britain.

It is sure to spark more Russian charges against London and the West of double standards in the war against jihadism.  In November 2010 when Zakaev arrived in Warsaw for a congress of Chechens, he was briefly detained but released after a Polish court decided not to extradite him to Russia.  Moscow is still seeking to try him for his activities as a separatist fighter and then a member of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) insurgency, in particular for murder and organizing a revolt, among other charges.  Polish authorities stated that they decided not to extradite Zakaev because he had political sylum in Great Britain.  The U.S. might have included the CE on its list of international terrorist organizations, instead of just its amir ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov, if Zakaev was not protected by Great Britain.

One ‘Western’ government may be toying with more direct involvement in support of the Caucasus mujahedin against Moscow.  In a recent National Interest article “North Caucasus of the Bizarre” Thomas de Waal gives readers a tour of the “irrationality” that he sees pervading the statements and policies of various regional actors in the Caucasus.[78]  The Russians, North Caucasians, and Georgians are each deemed as acting so in one way or another.  Russian irrationality is expressed in officials’ statements alleging that U.S. and other Western governments and intelligence agencies were behind Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetiya in August 2008 and are now supporting the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin in the North Caucasus.

Mikheil Saakashvili and his government in Tbilisi, according to de Waal, are thus “playing the irrational card” by supporting separatism in the North Caucasus, by calling for “a ‘united Caucasus,’ north and south,” and by removing the requirement to apply for Georgian visas for residents of Russia’s North Caucasus.[79]  This action would most certainly have facilitated the movement of money, weapons, and fighters to and from the zone of jihad in the North Caucasus and complicate the struggle against global jihadism.  It takes on more sinister overtones when it occurs on the background of the abovementioned Georgian efforts to support Circassian nationalism in the North Caucasus.  The matter appears even more problematic considering that Georgian opposition and Rose Revolution leaders like former parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze and former Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili have claimed that Tbilisi is training Ingush mujahedin and that Georgian banks facilitate money transfers to the Caucasus mujahedin.[80]

In a recent article by a former U.S. Foreign Service officer and U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee Foreign Policy Analyst, James George Jatras, the author claims that in December 2009 a secret meeting took place in Tbilisi of “representatives of numerous jihad groups based in various Islamic and European countries for the purpose of coordinating their activities on Russia’s southern flank.”  According to Jatras, “the meeting was organized under the auspices of high officials of the Georgian government.”  Although Saakashvili did not attend, Georgian MVD officials and “others acted as hosts and coordinators,” and the Georgian ambassador to Kuwait “purportedly facilitated” the participants’ travel “from the Middle East.”  Finally, “(i)n addition to ‘military’ operations (i.e. attacks in southern Russia) special attention was given to ideological warfare, for example, launching of the Russian-language TV station ‘First Caucasus’.”[81]  At the same time, the head of the Chechen disapora in Georgia, Khizri Aldamov, as reported by the CE mujahedin’s main website ‘Kavkaz tsentr’ urged Georgia to support the CE mujahedin by “peaceful means” primarily by providing “truthful information about what is happening.”[82]  Georgia’s ‘First Caucasus’ television station was up and running by late 2010, and its American director’s promise that it would not be engaged in propaganda is constantly being violated and is likely to continue doing so.  A close reading of even a New York Times article on the station makes this clear.  First Caucasus has given a talk show to the wife of first ChRI president Dzhokar Dudaev, its director Robert Parsons discusses the North and South Caucasus closer historical orientation to Turkey and Iran rather than Russia, and a Circassian flag was flying in its office.[83]  The present author’s first visit to the station’s website found a featured article about two Muslims being indicted in Tatarstan allegedly for praying on the Tatar holiday commemorating the Russian capture of Kazan in 1552.  The article reads like a piece from a CE-affiliated website in referring to Russia’s “chekist authorities” and “ethnic genocide of the conquered and colonized territories of Idel Ural.”[84]  ‘Idel Ural’ is the term used by Tatar and Bashkir separatists and jihadists for the Volga and Urals areas of Russia.  While claims like Jatras’s are difficult to fathom, the other evidence that Saakashvili’s government and others are playing with jihad in the Caucasus should be of grave concern to policymakers.

Case Study: Journalists, Analysts and Academics on the 2010 Moscow Metro Suicide Bombings

One way to fully comprehend the level of bias and denial regarding the Caucasus jihad is a case study in which we examine closely the kind of coverage given to one key jihadi incident.  A good case is the coverage by journalists and scholars of the March 29th, 2010 Moscow subway bombings.  As I will discuss in a later chapter, it was not just the Russian FSB that attributed this coordinated attack to the CE.  It was telegraphed beforehand and claimed afterwards by CE amir Umarov, and there were two videotaped final testaments made by the two Dagestani female suicide bombers posted on the Internet.  Nevertheless, the response of the journalistic and ‘expert’ community pointed repeatedly in the wrong directions.  After the real facts emerged exposing their incompetence, the issue was swept under the rug; the actual details did not merit paper and ink, because they did not fit the prescribed narrative of the writers, editors, and publishers.

Immediately, within hours of the attack, a series of ‘experts’ and obvious non-experts hastened to offer their ‘analysis’, despite their complete lack of even the most basic knowledge of the Caucasus Emirate and its mujahedin.  In doing so, they shed light on little more than the bankruptcy of their own methodological biases and political agendas.  Most egregious of all, Robert Pape, a recognized expert on suicide bombings and their causes, and the New York Times rushed into print an astonishingly misleading article, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?” already referenced above.[85]  Anyone with even remedial knowledge of the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin and their suicide bombers would have warned him that it is not just Chechen women or even women who carry out suicide bombings in Russia.  Indeed, in 2009 Ingushetia had four and Dagestan one suicide bombing each.  In January 2010 there had been another suicide boming in Dagestan.  Following Pape’s article in 2010 Dagestan would see the five more and would see for the year the largest number of suicide attacks – six – of any Russian region.  Two occurred in each of the following: Moscow (perpetrated and organized by Dagestan’s mujahedin), Ingushetiya, North Ossetiya (perpetrated by Ingushetiya’s mujahedin), and Chechnya.  Most of the attacks in both 2009 and 2010 were carried out by men.  Moreover, the two 2010 Moscow subway bombers were indeed women, but they were Dagestanis from Dagestan and the wives of leading amirs of the CE’s Dagestan network, the so-called Dagestan Vilaiyat.[86]  Nevertheless, Pape and his co-authors focused on ‘Chechen women’, compounding their other major error that CE is fighting only for an independent Chechen state.  They repeated the now worn but unjustified cliché that female suicide bombers are ‘black widows’ – that is, the wives, sisters, cousins or girlfriends of freedom fighters or even innocent citizens killed by Russian and local security forces.[87]  To be sure, nearly half of all female suicide bombers have had relatives killed by Russian forces during the two wars and jihadi insurgency.  But does that mean these ‘shakhidkas’ are not jihadists?  Thus, the 2010 Moscow subway shakidkas had been the wives of leading Dagestani amirs as the latter organized terrorist attacks across the republic (see Chapter 6).  In such cases, the mujahed’s partner is almost certainly a convinced mujahed herself.  The simple de-contextualized claim made by Pape and others that such shakhidkas are ‘black widows’ gives readers the impression that these were innocent homemakers sitting at home feeding their families when Russian forces suddenly broke into the home and killed their husbands.  The wife’s or girlfriend’s decision to don a suicide belt and carry out a martyrdom attack follows as logicially from the ideology and politics of their husband and boyfriend as much as from their demise.  The fates of the amirs, mujahedin, shakhids, and even shakhidkas are the predictable twilight of a life devoted to an extremist jihadi cult of violence and death.

Pape made other dubious claims about the causes of suicide bombing.  First, there is the claim that suicide bombing campaigns are driven largely by foreign occupation and ebb and wane according to the level of force and reconciliation implemented by the jihadis’ opponents – in this case, the Russian side.[88]  The fact is the number of foreign occupations that have not produced suicide bombers far outnumbers those that have, and those that have are almost all those occurring in Muslim countries.  Moreover, the abovementioned goals of Islamic conversion and rule and territorial expansion professed by jihadi organizations like the CE, AQ, Lakshar-e-Toiba and others debunk the view that they are motivated solely or even mainly by defensive considerations.

Second, Pape points out that the CE’s use of suicide bombing stopped after September 2004 and began again in October 2007 as a result of four factors: revulsion against the September 2004 Beslan hostage-taking, fewer civilian casualties during Russian counter-terrorism operations, Moscow’s initiation of a “hearts-and-minds program’, and an amnesty offered to jihadi fighters.[89]  Several other factors, requiring  primary source research and familiarization with the object being studied, undermine the correlation between these factors and the decline in suicide bombings asserted by Pape.  Taking the last first, the amnesty began on 1 September 2006 and ended on 1 January 2007 and therefore occurred near the end of the period without suicide bombings.  Second, there was no appreciable ‘hearts-and’minds’ program.  In fact, the brutal counter-insurgency methods of the most notorious North Caucasus leaders, Ingushetiya President Murat Zyazikov and Chechnya President Ramazan Kadyrov, were at their peak during this period.  A hearts-and-minds campaign began in Ingushetiya only in 2008 with new Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev’s removal of Zyazikov, his appointment of Yunusbek Yevkurov in his place, and Yevkurov’s softer policy and purge of pro-Zyazikov clans from leadership positions.  But these steps were taken after suicide bombings started up again and led by leading CE operative Sheikh Buryatskii, who was based in Ingushetiya and deeply involved in the CE’s newly revivied suicide bombing and sabotage unit, the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade (RSMB).  The decline of the RSMB and suicide operations in 2005-07 is better explained by Basaev’s pre-occupation with the internal political struggle surrounding whether or not to abandon the secular nationalists of the ChRI in favor of jihadism and the CE project.  That political striggle peaked in 2005-07.  Basaev’s demise in July 2006 then further hampered ChRI suicide bombing operational capacity.  Not so incidentally, Basaev met his demise when a truck bomb he was transporting in Ingushetiya prematurely detonated; a truck bomb that was likely intended to be used by a suicide bomber.

Suicide bombing returned in October 2007, according to Pape, because “the Russians then over-reached starting in late 2007.” “Moscow pressured the pro-Russian Chechen government of Ramzan Kadyrov to stamp out the remaining militants.  It complied, pursuing an ambitious counterterrorism offensive with notably harsh measures of its own.”[90]  On this point, there is no evidence that Moscow or Kadyrov significantly escalated the level of violence or intimidation in late 2007, and it strains credulity to argue that the mujahedin would have responded so immediately to Russian policy changes.  Pape’s simple correlation is matched by a different correlation between the revival of suicide bombing in October 2007, on the one hand, and the 2007 fund-raising campaign organized on Arabic jihadi websites by the Jordanian national and CE deputy military amir Abu Anas Muhannad and the declaration of the jihadist CE in October of that year.  The marked intensification of the suicide bombing campaign in spring and summer 2009 came after the arrival to the North Caucasus of the abovementioned Sheikh Buryatskii in spring 2008.  Again, these kinds of correlations are not amenable to theoretical models or large-N studies but instead require painstaking empirical research on the local jihadi ideology, culture, leadership, and network organization and structure.  One can only reference causes rooted in the jihad, if one studies the jihadi movements, policies, and vicissitudes thereof.  Pape, like almost all others, tests only non-jihadi causes because he refuses to study the jihadists – a costly tautology if one seeks purchase on a reliable, no less full explanation of jihadi-related phenomenon.

The immediate reaction to the Moscow metro suicide bombings from the Washington Post’s Applebaum was to shift the discussion to blaming Moscow.  The title of her blog article was “How Did Russian Police Know Who Bombed the Moscow Subway?”[91]  The answers to that question would be obvious to those familiar with the Caucasus, but they were predictably left out of her discussion: (1) the only groups ever to carry out suicide attacks in Russia, Moscow and on the Moscow subway system (February 2004) were those of the Chechen/Caucasus mujahedin; (2) CE amir Umarov, as discussed later, had promised attacks deep inside Russia and on Russian infrastructure and transport in April 2009; and (3) correspondingly he had revitalized the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs Brigade that executed earlier suicide bombings by the ChRI in 2002-04 and by the CE since late 2007.  Applebaum could have detailed these aspects of the matter.  Instead, she chose to question Moscow’s veracity in projecting that the mujahedin had carried out the attack and then stressed that the FSB was rumored to have orchestrated the September 1999 apartment building bombings that helped spark the second Chechen-Russian war.  She did not deign to write a follow-up piece to fill the false impression her article had given by insinuating into readers’ minds that it was the Russian FSB that was behind the attack.  Neither hers nor other similar journalistic masterpieces bothered to explain why the FSB would target its own employees by bombing the subway station ‘Lubyanka’ they use to commute to and from work.[92]

In a similar but more ambitious article on the subway bombing, the partially U.S.-government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) decided to pick up where Applebaum left off.  RFERL’s Fuller titled the article “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up,” echoing Applebaum’s blog.[93] Similarly, she directly relayed unsubstantiated rumors that the FSB might have been involved in the bombings, while affording Zakaev yet another opportunity to propagandize his false flag theory on the CE’s appearance.  In a hasty and clumsy fashion Fuller questioned the authenticity of the videotape of CE amir Umarov claiming responsibility for the bombings as well as other evidence of jihadi involvement.  First, she contrasted the denials of CE responsibility in two separate videos from CE amir Umarov’s brother and CE foreign representative Shamsuddin Batukaev denying any CE involvement and Umarov’s 1 April 2010 video claiming responsibility to cast doubt on the veracity of the latter.  The most obvious question was never asked: Whose video is more authoritative – that of the organization’s leader who is located in-country and has sponsored tens of high-profile mass terrorist attacks and suicide bombings over the years or a representative of the organization located abroad in Turkey, who is at risk of arrest if he claimed CE responsibility for the attack?

Fuller then set about trying to discredit the authenticity of Umarov’s video, arguing that “Umarov is seen sitting among trees and luxuriant green grass, although spring foliage does not grow in the mountains of Chechnya as early as late March.”[94]  This is written in such a way as to insinuate without explicitly stating that green foliage can be seen on the trees in the footage, which indeed would be unlikely in late March in Chechnya.  However, a thorough examination of the video shows no foliage on the trees; but there is a small meadow of very green grass, which could be found in the valleys and lower mountain reaches of Chechnya in late March.  Readers can examine the many videotapes made by CE operatives in March of any year in order to verify this assertion.  Moreover, as Fuller notes, in the video Umarov justified the attack as a revenge for the 11 February 2010 killings of hunters in Arshty.[95]  But this means that Umarov’s video was taped after February 11th, and that means that a green meadow can be found in the forests or mountains of Chechnya or Ingushetiya after February 11th.  Fuller or her editors might have asked how Umarov’s identification of himself as CE amir on the same videotape with his mention of two special operations in Moscow, something that had not happened earlier during his tenure as amir, could be effectively forged.  No previous audiotape of Umarov’s voice referring to such an attack would have been available to dub into the tape.

Fuller also argued that the words sounding on the tape did not coincide with the movement of Umarov’s lips.  This amounted to nothing more than a tape delay; one can follow the sound and the movement and easily see that the movements produced the exact words heard in the audio portion.  Fuller also noted that Umarov claimed responsibility explicitly in the tape for “two special operations directed against the unbelievers… carried out today in Moscow” but neglected to mention the city’s subway system.[96]  For Fuller and RFERL, Umarov’s failure to specify the Moscow subway in his video casts doubt on his involvement, but his mention of the unprecedented two attacks in Moscow holds no weight.

Fuller also asserts that Umarov’s claim that the Moscow attacks were revenge for the Arshty killings does not add up, since the suicide bombers were from Dagestan, not Chechnya.[97]  There are many reasons why this line of refutation strains credulity as well as the credibility of Fuller and RFERL.  First, the CE is a multiethnic jihadi movement, so it is not necessary that Chechens take revenge for an alleged Russian atrocity against Chechens.  To be sure, the Moscow attacks had nothing whatsoever to do with revenge for Arshty.  Such attacks are long in preparation and, more importantly, are part of a long-term campaign of terrorism against the Russian population as declared by amir Umarov several times in videos, interviews, and articles that year and discussed in later chapters.

Fuller and RFERL employed these dubious and poorly tested discrepancies (and others regarding early reports of the shakhidkas’ movements prior to detonation) raises serious doubts about their objectivity.  They seemed warranted only if one’s goal was to introduce discussion of, and indeed lend credence to the possibility that the FSB organized the attacks, as indeed Fuller betrayed herself later in the piece:

“The inconsistent statements attributed to Umarov and Batukayev, in conjunction with the mystery surrounding Sharipova’s movements in the 24 hours before her death, have inevitably fuelled speculation whether Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) may have orchestrated the Moscow subway bombings in the same way as it allegedly did the explosions that destroyed apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities in the late summer of 1999.

“Akhmed Zakayev, the London-based head of the moderate Chechen Republic-Ichkeria (ChRI) government in exile, claimed in October 2007 to have information suggesting that the Russian authorities had suborned unnamed Chechens to persuade Umarov, then ChRI president, to abandon the cause of Chechen independence and proclaim himself Amir of a North Caucasus emirate.

“Zakayev suggested that the rationale behind those plans was to provide the Kremlin with a cast-iron pretext to deploy more forces to the North Caucasus under the pretext of fighting Al-Qaeda in order to deal the death blow to the idea of a secular, independent Chechnya and to continue its ‘genocide’ of the region’s peoples, ‘who are ever more actively defending their national and religious rights.’

“To that extent, Zakayev continued, Umarov’s proclamation of a North Caucasus emirate would serve the same purpose as did the declaration in August 1999 of an independent Islamic state in Daghestan in triggering a new war in Chechnya. Zakayev further claimed that the Russian leadership allocated $500 million to implement “Operation Emirate,” and that Russian intelligence operatives have met in an unnamed third country with Chechen representatives to secure their cooperation.”[98]

Zakaev’s line, therefore, appears to have been RFERL’s editorial line or at least strong suspicion as well is evidenced by several factors.  RFERL has never put Zakaev’s claims under the kind of close (if clumsy) scrutiny to which it put Umarov’s video, and its reporting on the CE is as paltry as the mainstream media’s.  It has produced little or no analysis of the CE’s ideology, theology, leadership, organizational structure, and ties to foreign jihadists.  Thus, Fuller’s ‘analysis’ of Umarov’s video carefully skirted inconvenient facts discussed in detail in later chapters: several videotapes over the past year show Umarov and other CE mujahedin stating they have prepared suicide bombers; there were more than 20 suicide bombings and several failed attempts between May 2009 and the Moscow subway attack; and Umarov had recently warned several times that suicide bombers would attack across Russia.

One wonders what would lead a U.S. government funded media organ to produce such biased and incompetent reporting.  Such certainly contradicts President Barack Obama’s expression of condolences to Russia on the occasion of the attack and his apparent determination to cooperate with Russia in combating jihadi terrorism and other issues.  This politically biased and unjustifiable approach downplays a potentially grave threat to U.S. and Western security and relieves Zakaev, other so-called ‘Chechen moderates’ and their Western supporters of responsibility for their associations with the Caucasus jihadis.

The media’s and academia’s virtual coverup of the Caucasus jihad, including whitewashing of the jihadi nature of the movement and its terrorist crimes against humanity over recent years, is in the end, hard to comprehend. Surely, ever since Beslan the Chechen separatists’ and Caucasus mujahedin’s crimes hardly pale in light of, and rather exceed those committed by Russian and local security and police forces.  This highly politicized approach – one that sacrifices the truth in ways we would have never condoned even during the Cold War –  explains in part the Russian denunciations of U.S. double standards and Russian suspicions that U.S. and other Western intelligence services may be lending support to the CE mujahedin.  There must be a better way of analyzing and assessing the CE jihad.

Empiricism and Alternative Causality

In contrast to the above-mentioned approaches, this book’s approach is defined by the careful analysis of observable data regarding the CE and its mujahedin – what they say and what they do.  In other words, the facts as presented in this book are empirically based.  The data demonstrate that Salafist jihadism, the establishment of an Islamist Shariah law-based state in the North Caucasus, and virulent jihadi ‘anti-infidelism’, in particular anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, have been an increasingly vital element of the Caucasus jihadists’ ideology for years.  The formerly nationalist-oriented separatist-turned-jihadist ChRI began to head in this direction in the late 1990s.  This was not least of all a result of the growing influence of AQ and the global jihadi revolutionary movement and reflected in the Chechen jihadists’ August 1999 invasion of Dagestan.  The growing “jihadization” of the movement was institutionalized in a July 2002 expanded meeting of the ruling Madlisul Shura (War Council), which named the Islamist-oriented Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev as President Aslan Maskhadov’s designated successor.  The jihadist mandate expanded with Shamil Basayev’s establishment of combat jamaats across the North Caucasus in 2003 and 2004 and the creation by former president/amir Sadulaev of Dagestan and Caucasus Fronts under the ChRI’s command in May 2005.

As these developments unfolded, most of the ChRI’s moderate wing was isolated far away from the North Caucasus, having found welcoming refuge in places like Washington, London, Istanbul, Baku, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.  There, Zakaev and others tainted themselves by continuing to serve in the ChRI underground government, effectively alongside or even under the ministration of Basaev, who organized suicide attacks on rock concerts, subways and passenger airliners, hostage-takings of women and children in hospitals, schools and theaters at Buddyonnovsk, Beslan and Dubrovka, and often unprovoked killings of officials, police officers and servicemen in the North Caucasus over the last few years.

In October 2007 the new ChRI amir Dokku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov formed the CE, abolished the ChRI and its structures, expelled the radical nationlist Chechen separatists from the movement, allied the CE with global jihadi revolutionary movement, and fully jihadized its identity, theo-ideology, goals, strategies, and tactics.  Since then the CE has found sponsors and allies among the leading figures of the global jihadi movement, propagandizes the global jihad to the exclusion of all secular and ethno-national ideological elements, and participates in international terrorist operations with AQ and the Islamic State (IS or ISIL). Indeed, in December 2014, amirs representing as much as 80 percent of the CE’s mujahedin declared their loyalty to ISIL and its ‘caliph’ Abubake al-Baghdadi. We ignore all this at our peril. The same denial, obfuscation, and self-deception left us vulnerable to AQ’s machinations a decade and a half ago and to the Boston Marathon attackers inspired by the CE just two years ago. It is high time we draw the proper lesson from those painful experiences.

[1] “Raz”yasnenie Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman v svyazi s fitnoi sredi modzhakhedov,” Kavkaz tsentr, 18 October 2010, 12:51, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/10/18/75902.shtml.

[2] Olga Bobrova, “Imarat Kavkaz: Gosudarstvo, kotorogo net,” Novaya gazeta, No. 27, 17 March 2020, http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2010/027/18.html.

[3] See rare discussions of these aspects of the conflict in James Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihadism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), pp. 95-110; Paul Murphy, The Wolves of Islam: Russia and the faces of Chechen Terror (Dulles, Va.: Brassey’s Inc., 2004), and Hahn, Russia’s Islamic Threat, pp. 31-34.

[4] Sharon LaFraniere, “How Jihad Made Its Way to Chechnya: Secular Separatist Movement Transformed by Militant Vanguard,” Washington Post, 26 April 2003, p. A1, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A39482-2003Apr25?language=printer and Philip P. Pan, “In Russia, an intensifying insurgency – Under crackdown, Chechen separatism turns into a regional Islamist revolt,” Washington Post, 30 October 2009.

[5] “The State of the Jihad: 2008,” Long War Journal, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/01/the_state_of_jihad_2_1.php.

[6] Stephen J. Blank ed., Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2009).

[7]  Anne Nivat, “Groznaya Pamyat’,” The New Times, October 26, 2009, http://newtimes.ru.

[8] Clifford J. Levy, “Russian Suicide Bomb Ring Foiled, Government Says,” New York Times, 12 July 2010.

[9] Schwirtz, “Suicide Bomber Rams Truck Into Police Station in Russia, Killing 20”.

[10] Michael Schwirtz, “Clashes Kill 20 in Russia Region,” New York Times, 14 August 2009.

[11] Cullison, “Suicide Bomber Kills 21 in Southern Russia”.

[12] See Philip P. Pan, “Blast Kills at Least 20 in Russia: Apparent Suicide Attack Hits Ingushetiya Police Building,” Washington Post, August 18, 2009; Michael Schwirtz, “Suicide Bomber Rams Truck Into Police Station in Russia, Killing 20,”  New York Times, August 18, 2009; and Alan Cullison, “Suicide Bomber Kills 21 in Southern Russia,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2009.

[13] Ellen Barry, “A Region’s Wounds Fester on Russia’s South Border,” New York Times, 6 April 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/world/europe/07caucasus.html.

[14] Ellen Barry, “Empty Chairs, Empty Tables, Empty Beds,” New York Times, 13 July 2010.

[15] Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terrorism Networks in the Twenty-First Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), pp. 161 and 134.

[16] Thomas de Waal, “North Caucasus of the Bizarre,” The National Interest, 1 November 2010, http://nationalinterest.org.

[17] Theodore Gerber and Sarah Mendelson, “Security Through Sociology: The North Caucasus and the Global Counterinsurgency Paradigm,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 32, No. 9, 2009, pp. 831-851, at p. 836.

[18] Gerber and Mendelson, “Security Through Sociology,” p. 836.

[19] Theodore Gerber and Sarah Mendelson, “Security Through Sociology: The North Caucasus and the Global Counterinsurgency Paradigm,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 32, No. 9, 2009, pp. 831-851.

[20] See the CSIS reports under the project run by Sarah Mendelson: Sarah E. Mendelson, Matthew Malarkey, and Lucy Moore, “Violence in the North Caucasus – Summer 2009,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 31 August 2009, http://csis.org/files/publication/ViolenceNorthCaucasusAugust2009.pdf and Matthew Malarkey and Lucy Moore, “Violence in the North Caucasus: Summer 2010, Not Just a Chechen Conflict,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2 September 2010, http://csis.org/files/publication/100902_Violence_in_the_North_Caucasus_Summer_2010.pdf.

[21] The study, published at the very time the jihadi network was expanding further into Chechnya’s neighboring republics and years after the CE had established deep roots outside Chechnya, asserted something similar: “(W)hen the Chechen ‘state within a state’ ruled by Kadyrov was established, the threats to neighboring regions coming from Chechen territory became less acute, on the one hand, as a result of the success of Kadyrov’s troops in combating militants, and on the other, the fact that the latter had abandoned terror methods as ineffective.” Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, Krzystof Strachota, and Maciej Falkowski, “ Para-States in the Post-Soviet Area from 1991 to 2007,” International Studies Review, No. 10, 2008, pp. 366-396, at p. 384.

[22] Embassy Row – Caucasus Terrorism, Washington Times, 4 May 2010, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/04/embassy-row-48131749/.  The Times’ reference was to a Stratfor article in which Stratfor seemed to boast that the CE had emerged on its radar as “early” as summer 2009 (nearly two years after the CE’s formation and some 700 attacks), while it acknowledged it had been “dubious of its capabilities.”  See Scott Stewart and Ben West, “The Caucasus Emirate,” Stratfor, 15 April 2010, 08:56, http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100414_caucasus_emirate.

[23] Anne Applebaum, “Ethnic Cleansing, Russian Style,” The Weekly Standard, 20 December 1999, http://www.anneapplebaum.com/1999/12/20/ethnic-cleansing-russian-style/.

[24] Then U.S. State Department Deputy Chief for C.I.S. Affairs Stephen Sestanovich told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his November 1999 testimony: “Chechen insurgents are receiving help from radical groups in other countries, including Osama bin Laden’s network and others who have attacked or threatened Americans and American interests.”  See “Text: Sestanovich Statement on Chechnya to Senate Committee, Nov. 4,” GlobalSecurity.com, USIS Washington File, 4 November 1999 and http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/1999/11/991104-chechen-usia1.htm and Elaine Monaghan, “U.S. Boosts Putin, backs offer of Chechen talks,” Reuters, 25 September 2001 in Johnson’s Russia List, No. 5461, 26 September 2001, http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/5461.html, accessed 24 January 2011.  For then U.S. National Security Council adviser Richard Clarke’s comments on ChRI-AQ ties see his televison interview on the Charlie Rose Show, PBS, 30 November 1999, www.charlierose.com/view/interview/3968, accessed 22 January 2011.  For then U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare Director Joseph Bodansky’s comments on ChRI-AQ ties see Joseph Bodansky, “Chechnya: The Mujahedin Factor,” Freeman.org, 1999, http://www.freeman.org/m_online/bodansky/chechnya.htm.

[25] Hahn, Russia’s Islamic Threat, pp. 36-38 and 106-110.

[26] Khattab, Samir bin Salekh al-Suweilem’s nomme de guerre, is taken from Umar bin al-Khattab, an associate of the Prophet and regarded by Sunnis as the second caliph in Islam but by the Shi’a as an idol worshipper and a usurper of power from Najaf’s Imam Ali.  Umar bin al-Khattab is known for leading Islam’s 7th century conquests and expansion (which already then reached the North Caucasus at Derbent in present-day Dagestan) that made Islam a world religion.  Ibn al-Khattab was born of a Saudi father and Circassian mother; the latter being a member of the ethnic Circassian diaspora which left their Caucasus homeland after the Russian conquest in the 1860s.

[27] Yossef Bodansky, Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda’s Training Ground and the Next Wave of Terror (New York: Harper Collins, 2007), pp. 135-36.  I do not exclude the possibility that others, most notably Boris Berezovskii and rogue or active FSB agents he was close to might have been involved in the apartment bombings.

[28] Robert Pape, Lindsey O’Rourke and Jenna McDermit, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?,” New York Times, March 31, 2010.

[29] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[30] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[31] See the video “Majlis al-Shura of the Caucasus Emirate – 25 April 2009,” You Tube, accessed 10 and 23 October 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQQKPNfmo1U.  For the English translation of Umarov’s post-Shura declaration with a link to his downloadable video statement in Russian, see “Amir Dokka Abu Usman: ‘This Year Will Be Our Offensive Year’,” Kavkaz tsentr, 17 May 2009, 15:17, http://www.kavkaz.tv/eng/content/2009/05/17/10700.shtml.

[32] “Prezident ChRI podpisal ukazy o sozdanii Uralskogo i Povolzhskgo frontov,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 9 July 2007, 14:34, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2006/07/09/45779.shtml.

[33] “Amir Imarata Kavkaz Dokku Abu Usman: ‘My osvobodim Krasnodarskii krai, Astrakhan i Povolzhskii zemli…”, Kavkaz tsentr, 8 March 2010, 11:38,

http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/03/08/71087.shtml.

[34] See, for example, “Ideyu otdeleniya Kavkaz est smysli obsuzhdat,’ chtoby lishit’ islamistov znameni borby…!,” Kavkaz tsentr, 12 February 2011, 11:15, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/02/12/79121.shtml and “Posol SShA v Moskve o neizbezhnom ob”edinenie musul’man Severnogo Kavkaza,” Kavkaz tsentr, 6 December 2010, 09:18, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/12/06/77052.shtml.

[35] For the full declaration, see “Ofitsial’nyi reliz zayavleniya Amira Dokki Umarova o provozglashenii Kavkazskogo Emirata,” Kavkaz tsentr, 21 November 2007, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2007/11/21/54480.shtml and “Komu vygodna provokatsiay pod nazvaniem ‘Kavkazskii Emirat’,” Chechenpress.org, 29 October 2007, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2007/10/29/04.shtml.

[36] See, for example, Abu-t-Tanvir Kavkazskii, “Vchera, segodnya, zavtra…,” Hunafa.com, 24 April 2010, 11:23, http://hunafa.com/?p=3451.

[37] Alexei Smirnov, “Political disunity mars Chechen rebel strategy in the North Caucasus,” Jamestown Foundation Chechnya Weekly, 8 June 2006.  The author conveniently omitted that then ChRI president and amir Umarov rejected out of hand any negotiations with Moscow in an April 2006 interview; two months before Smirnov’s article.  He would do so agian in a July 2006 interview. “D. Umarov: ‘My bolshe ne predlozhim Rossii mira,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 18 April 2006, 03:01:06, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2006/04/18/43822.shtml and “Dokka Umarov” ‘Russkaya armiya v Chechne vydokhlas’,” Intervyu zhurnalista ‘Radio Svoboda’ Andreya Babitsskogo s vitse-prezidentom ChRI Dokka Umarovym,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 15 July 2005, 15:19:31, http://www.kavkazcenter.net/russ/content/2005/07/15/36133.shtml. Thus, both sides were refusing to negotiate, but Jamestown, true to form, focused only on the Russian side’s refusal.

[38] Kathy Lally, “In Chechnya, apprehensions over a roughshod leader,” Washington Post, 21 March 2011.  Agence France Presse (AFP) published an almost identical article on the same day.  Such articles are often driven by campaigns sparked by leftist and liberal organizations, which only criticize state violations of human rights.  AFP cited the Human Rights Watch report that sparked both the WP and AFP article. “Islamisation and Fear Spread in Chechnya,” AFP, 21 March 2011, http://www.france24.com/en/20110321-islamisation-fear-spread-chechnya.

[39] Anne Applebaum, “Who Is the Real Renegade,” Intellectual Capital, 11 November 1999, http://www.intellectualcapital.com.

[40] The ChRI separatists and their foreign mujahedin allies engaged in kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.  Oligarch Boris Berezovskii used his close ties to the Chechen criminal underworld, in turn tied to the separatists, for profit-taking in the ransoming of foreign aid workers and others during the inter-war period.  He also allegedly financed elements among the Chechen mujahedin, including Basaev-Khattab-led August 1999 invasion of Dagestan and the September 1999 apartment building bombings. See Pavel Khlebnikov, Razgovor c varvarom: Besedy s chechenskim polevym komandirom Khozh-Akhmedom Nukhaevym o banditizme i islame (Moscow: Detektiv-Press, 2004), pp. 178-81; Paul Klebnikov, Godfather of the Kremlin: The Decline of Russia in the Age of Gangster Capitalism (Orlando, FL.: Harcourt, 2000), pp. 259-66 and 300-01; and A. Khinshtein, Berezovskii i Abramovich: Oligarkhi s bol’shoi dorogi (Moscow: Lora, 2007), pp. 77, 107, 245-87, and 566-69.

[41] Bodansky, Chechen Jihad, p. 108.

[42] Anne Applebaum, “How Did Russian Police Know Who Bombed the Moscow Subway,” Post Partisan – WashingtonPost.com, 30 March 2010, 9:47, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/03/are_chechens_responsible_for_t.html; see also Slate, 30 March 2010, 11:32, http://www.slate.com/id/2249293 and Free Thought Manifesto, 1 April 2010, http://freethoughtmanifesto.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-did-russian-police-know-who-bombed.html.

[43] Charles King and Rajan Menon, “Prisoners of the Caucasus: Russia’s Invisible Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, July/August 2010, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp. 20-34, at p. 30.

[44] The few accounts of the rise of Islamism and jihadism in the North Caucasus include Gordon M. Hahn, Russia’s Islamic Threat (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007); James Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); and Robert Shaefer, Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad (New York: Praeger, 2010).  Only the last covers the period of the CE, but it is focused on proper counter-terorism and counter-insurgency stategy and tactics rather than the CE itself.  Only one chapter deals with the CE period.

[45] King and Menon, “Prisoners of the Caucasus.”

[46] Liz Fuller, “Chechnya’s Youngest Insurgents,” RFE/RL, 14 February 2011, http://www.rferl.org/content/blog/2308952.html.

[47] Liz Fuler “Remembering Mansur,” RFERL, 17 March 2011, http://www.rferl.org/content/caucasus_report_remembering_mansur/2341725.html.

[48] “Interview: Zakayev Says ‘No Irresolvable Issues’ Between Russia, Chechnya,” RFERL, 23 September 2010, http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_Zakayev_Says_No_Irresolvable_Issues_Between_Russia_Chechnya/2166048.html and “Chechen Separatist Leader Says He’s In Poland, Dismisses Interpol Arrest Threat,” RFERL, 16 September 2010, 17:05, http://www.rferl.org/content/Chechen_Separatist_Leader_Says_Arrest_Threat_Wont_Keep_Him_From_Conference/2158981.html.

[49] “A. Zakaev: ‘Proekt “Emirat” – eto spetsoperatsiya FSB RF’,” Chechenpress.org, 23 October 2007, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2007/10/23/index.shtml.

[50] Press Release, American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, 24 June 2004, http://www.peaceinthecaucasus.org/node/2679.

[51] Dagestani journalist Zaur Gaziyev notes: “Our culture is different. If we are slighted or wronged we don’t go and get drunk on vodka. We pick up a gun and go out to murder the one who wronged us.”  Tom Parfitt, “The Deadliest Village in Russia – A Journey Through Russia’s Killing Zone, Part 8,” ForeignPolicy.com, 1 April 2011, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/01/the_deadliest_village_in_russia.  Leader of the Kabardin nationalist movement ‘Khase’ Ibragim Yaganov notes: “If a Russian guy can hide from reality in a bottle of vodka, but we drink little.  What we do is immediately take up a weapon, and this protest is expressed in horrible and bloody forms.”  Dar’ya Aslamova, “Boeviki v Priel’brus’e oblozhili biznesmenov dan’yu,” Komsomolskaya Pravda, 22 March 2011, http://www.kp.ru/daily/25655/818180/.  Although Kabardin political scientist Timur Tenov claims that Kabardins “have gotten past this stage,” he says the following about the Chechens: “In Chechnya they always respected brute physical force and bright personalities.”  Dar’ya Aslamova, “V Priel’brus’e v razgar sezona boeviki oblozhili biznesmenov dan’yu,” Komsomolskaya Pravda, 23 March 2011, http://www.kp.ru/daily/25656/818814/.

[52] Paul J. Murphy, Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror (Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2004).

[53] Paul Murphy, “Jamestown Foundation Conference Sparks Diplomatic Protest,” RETWA, 18 April 2006, http://www.retwa.com/home.cfm?articleDate=18Apr2006.

[54] Paul Murphy, “Vachagayev’s Dilemma,” RETWA, Briefing No. 6, 7 May 2006, http://www.retwa.com

[55] Marat Teuchezhskii – amir gruppy musulman adygov, prinyavshchikh resehenie vyiti na Dzhikhad, “Dzhikhad – eto sredstvo usnireniya zla,” Kavkaz tsentr, 4 May 2006, 00:49:55, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2006/05/04/44253.shtml.

[56] “Jamestown Foundation Press Release ‘Russian State Television, Foreign Ministry Falsely Manipulate Coverage of North Caucasus’,” Jamestown Foundation, April 18, 2006, http://www.jamestown.org/press_details.php?press_id=31.

[57] Andrei Smirnov, “Russian Reaction to Jamestown Conference Reveals Kremlin Fear of Free Speech About the Situation in the North Caucasus,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 3, Issue 77, April 20, 2006 12:00, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=31600).

[58] On the March 2010 conference, see Giorgi Kvelashvili, “Will Georgia Recognize the Circassian Genocide?,” Jamestown Foundation, 22 March 2010, http://jamestownfoundation.blogspot.com/2010/03/should-georgia-recognize-circassian.html and Amie Ferris-Rotman, “Russian Olympics clouded by 19th century deaths,” Reuters, 21 March 2010, 7:41, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE62K02S20100321.  For Jamestown’s interview with Astemirov, see Fatima Tlisova, “Exclusive Interview with Anzor Astemirov,” North Caucasus Analysis, Volume 10, Issue 11, 20 March 2009, 05:10, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34744&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&cHash=740544059f.

[59] For the CE’s Russian-language publication of the interview, see “Amir Saifullakh (Anzor Astemirov) dal interv’yu Dzheimstounskomu Fondu,” Kavkaz tsentr, 26 March 2009, 13:41, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2009/03/26/64698.shtml.

[60] Gvantsa Gabekhadze, “Dangerous Games in the Caucasus,” The Messenger Online, 25 October 2010, http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/2220_october_25_2010/2220_gvanca.html, last accessed 17 November 2010.

[61] Mairbek Vatchagaev, “Arrests in Europe Place 100,000 Member Chechen Disapora in the Spotlight,” Jamestwon Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 7, Issue 215, 2 December 2010, 01:13, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=37230&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=7&cHash=85a84a8365.

[62] See the testimony of Miriam Lanskoy, “Human Rights in the North Caucasus,” Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, U.S. Cingress, 15 April 2011,    http://tlhrc.house.gov/docs/transcripts/2011_04_15_North_Caucasus/Lanskoy_Testimony.pdf, p. 2.  Ms Lanskoy has been a long-time denier of the Chechen and Caucasus mujahedin’s collusion with AQ and other global jihadists.  See Miriam Lanskoy, Jessica Stern, and Monica Duffy Toft, Russia’s Struggle with Chechnya: Implications for the War on International Terrorism, Belfer Center Caspian Studies Program, 26 November 2002, http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/12789/russias_struggle_with_chechnya.html?breadcrumb=%2Fexperts%2F124%2Fmiriam_lanskoy and “Mirian Lanskaya o terakte v Domodedovo i momente istiny,” Caucasus Times, 2 February 2011, http://www.caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=20748.

[63] J. Michael McConnell, Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 5 February 2008, http://intelligence.senate.gov/080205/mcconnell.pdf and “Caucasus most likely flashpoint in Eurasia – US intelligence chief,” News.az, 3 February 2010, http://www.news.az.com.

[64] See “Designation of Caucasus Emirate,” U.S. Department of State Office of the Spokesman, 26 May 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/05/164312.htm.

[65] Reward for Justice – Doku Umarov Reward Offer, U.S. Department of State Office of the Spokesman, 26 May 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/05/164314.htm.

[66] For Movladi Udugov’s debate with Zakaev see, for example, “M. Udugov: ‘Vsyo, chto ne sootvetstvuet Shariatu nelegitimno’,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 9 January 2006, 00:59, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2006/01/09/40872.shtml.  Udugov’s article was a response to Zakaev, who defended a policy of complying with international law and working through the UN and Western international organizations like the OSCE and Council of Europe to defend the ChRI, signaling a fundamental split among the Chechens.  “Akhmed Zakaev: ‘Zamechaniya k nekotorym razmyshleniyam i vyskazyvaniyam’,” Kavkaz-Tsentr, 31 December 2005, 21:59:41, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/ content/2005/12/31/40660.shtml.

[67] “Nochnoe napadenie boevikov na Ingushetiyu: podrobnosti,” Kavkaz uzel, 22 June 2004, 10:45, . http://georgia.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/57404.

[68] “Sheikh Abdul-Khalim: ‘My idem k provoglasheniyu Islamskogo Gosudarstvo,” Kavkaz tsentr, 2 December 2007, 12:26, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2007/12/02/54723.shtml.

[69] “A. Zakaev: ‘Proekt “Emirat” – eto spetsoperatsiya FSB RF’,” Chechenpress.org, 23 October 2007, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2007/10/23/index.shtml.

[70] For more, see Gordon M. Hahn, “Look Who Is Talking,” Russia Profile, October 6, 2008, http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=International&articleid=a1223308195.

[71] See, for example, a short report on an attack on Kadyrov’s home town on August 28th at “Vooruzhennyie boitsy chechenskogo soprotivleniya provelo spetsoperatsiyu v Tsentoroe, Kadyrova na meste ne okazalos’,” Chechenpress.org, 29 August 2009, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/08/29/01.shtml.

[72] Sergei Mashkin and Musa Muradov, “Doku Umarov zhiv, no nezdorov,” Kommersant, 3 August 2010, http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1481404 and Marina Golovnina, “New Chechen rebel leader is no terrorist, says ally,” Rueters, 4 August 2010, 1:29, http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-50606820100803.

[73] “Postanovlenie Kabineta Ministrov ChRI No. A-133,” ChechenPress, 10 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/10/1f.shtml.

[74] “BBC Russia: Akhmed Zakaev otvergaet svoyu prichastnost’ k aktsii v okkupirovannom rossiiskymi voiskami Groznom-Dzhokare, ChechenPress, 19 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/19/3f.shtml and Musa Muradov, “Akhmed Zakaev sdalsya boevikam,” Kommersant, 12 October 2010, http://kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1520658.

[75] “Aleksandr Torshin: Napadenie boevikov na kompleks pravitel’stvennykh zdanii v Groznom organizovali novyie lidery podpol’ya,” Ekho Moskvy, 19 October 2010, 20:00, http://echo.msk.ru/news/719593-echo.html

[76] “Zakaev oprovergaet prichastnost’ k organizatsii napadeniya na parlament Chechni,” Kavkaz uzel, 20 October 2010, 12:25, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/175753/.

[77] “BBC Russia: Akhmed Zakaev otvergaet svoyu prichastnost’ k aktsii v okkupirovannom rossiiskymi voiskami Groznom-Dzhokare, ChechenPress, 19 October 2010, http://www.chechenpress.org/events/2010/10/19/3f.shtml.

[78] Thomas de Waal, “North Caucasus of the Bizarre,” The National Interest, 1 November 2010, http://nationalinterest.org.

[79] De Waal, “North Caucasus of the Bizarre”.

[80] “Burjanadze Talks About Danger of one more War from Russia,” Georgian Journal, 21 October 2010, http://georgianjournal.ge/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=664:burjanadze-talks-about-danger-of-one-more-war-from-russia-&catid=9:news&Itemid=8 and “Burjanadze Slams Visa Provocations,” Interfax, 21 October 2010, 19:01, http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=2&id=197175, last accessed 15 November 2010.

[81] James Jatras, “The Georgian Imbroglio – And a Choice for the United States,” America-Russia Net, 14 February 2010, http://www.america-russia.net/eng/face/236661338?user_session=4827e878c0267ddbdd6ee738f8212f1d).

[82] “Chechens urge Georgia to report truth about Jihad in Caucasus Emirate to the West,” Kavkaz tsentr, 24 October 2010, 11:34, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2010/10/24/12674.shtml, last accessed 17 November 2010).

[83] Ellen Barry, “Georgians Build Ties With Russian Caucasus,” News York Times,
13 February 2011.

[84] Sergei Kryukov, “Idel’ Ural. Preseldovaniya musul’man,” Pervyi Informatsionnyi Kavkazskii Kanal, 12 March 2011, 21:24, http://pik.tv/ru/cj/item/idel-ural-presledovaniia-musulman.

[85] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[86] Arsen Mollayev, “Hometown of Russian Suicide Bomber rattled,” Associated Press, 3 April 2010, 4:17, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100403/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_violence and “Sledsvie ustanovilo, chto terakt na ‘Lubyanka’ sovershila Mariam Sharipova,” Kavkaz uzel, 6 April 2010, 12:50, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/167426/.

[87] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[88] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[89] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[90] Pape, et al, “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”

[91] Applebaum, “How Did Russian Police Know Who Bombed the Moscow Subway?”

[92] Applebaum, “How Did Russian Police Know Who Bombed the Moscow Subway?”

[93] Liz Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Caucasus Report, 7 April 2010, http://www.rferl.org/archive/Caucasus_Report/latest/963/963.html.  The next few paragraphs are adapted from Gordon M. Hahn, “RFERL Muddies the Waters of Jihadism in the North Caucasus,” Russia – Other Points of View, 3 May 2010, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2010/05/rferl-muddies-the-waters-of-jihadism-in-the-north-caucasus.html.

[94] Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up”.

[95] Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up”.

[96] Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up”.

[97] Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up”.

[98] Fuller, “’Evidence’ In Moscow Subway Bombings Doesn’t Add Up”.

About Gordon M. Hahn