by Gordon M. Hahn
One of the leading global jihadi philosophers Sheikh Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi recently issued a fatwa in response to an inquiry addressed to “our sheikh,” which read: “Are youth who gave the bayat (Islamic loyalty oath) to the Amir of the Caucasus Emirate freed from this bayat when he is killed or should they preserve the bayat to the Caucasus Emirate?”
Maqdisi replies: “The foundation is that a Muslim gives bayat to help the religion of Allah and make Jihad and does not cancel his bayat as long as the Emirate is on a program (path) which pleases Allah and his messenger and Allah blesses and welcomes it. To turn away from helping the Emirate in the wake of the death or murder of amir is leaving Jihad and mujahedin without help.”
Maqdisi’s fatwa appeared first on Akhbar Sham, the website of the CE-affiliated ‘Jeish al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar’ (JMA) jihadi group fighting alondside the Al Qa`ida (AQ) affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN) in Syria (www.akhbarsham.info/2015/05/27/136/). It appeared a few hours later on the CE’s main website Kavkaz tsentr (www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2015/05/27/109140/fatva-shejkha-abu-mukhammada-al-makdisi-po-povodu-polozheniya-bajata-posle-shakhady-amira-ik.shtml).
Maqdisi is thus intervening and essentially shoring up a beleaguered CE that has seen numerous amirs and mujahedin go fight in Syria under the banner of the JMA and other jihadi groups. Moreover, this year saw the majority of its amirs in the North Caucasus declare bayat to the Islamic State and thus be expelled from the CE, further thinning out the CE’s already depleted ranks.
Maqdisi endorsed the CE in September 2009 as a major jihadi group and later urged Muslims to support it as the global jihad’s “doorway to Eastern Europe.” He developed a special relationship with the CE’s first qadi Anzor ‘Seifullah’ Astemirov and has intervened in the CE’s internal politics several times previously.
We are still awaiting CE confirmation that Abu Usman al-Gimravii (born Magomed Suleimanov) has succeeded late CE amir Ali Abu Mukhammad ad-Dagistani. A Russian-language jihadi website connected to Syrian jihadi groups such as Jeish al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar (JMA, a semi-affiliate of the Caucasus Emirate or CE) and Jabhat al-Nusrah appears to have announced that Abu Usman al-Gimravii has become the CE’s new amir.
As noted in a previous post, Gimravii-Suleimanov was indeed the amir most likely to become the new CE amir (Gordon M. Hahn, “CE Amir Ali Abu Mukhammad ad-Dagistani Killed the CE’s Kavkaz tsentr Confirms,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 20 April 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/04/20/ce-amir-alu-abu-mukhammad-ad-dagistani-killed-the-ces-kavkaz-tsentr-confirms/ and Gordon M. Hahn, “CE Amir Dagistani’s Likely Successor Issues Statement on Dagistani’s Demise,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 5 May 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/05/05/ce-amir-dagistanis-likely-successor-issues-statement-on-dagistanis-demise/).
The CE’s previous amir, ‘Ali Abu Mukhamad ad-Dagistani’ (born Aliaskhab Kebekov), was confirmed killed in a Russian special counter-terrorist operation on April 19th in Buinaksk, Dagestan (www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2015/04/20/108763.shtml). In March of last year it was announced that Dagistani-Kebekov had succeeded the CE’s founding amir, ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov, who was killed in a Russian clandestine operation by poisoning in September 2013.
Abu Usman al-Gimravii was born Magomed Suleimanov. Before becoming the CE’s amir, he was the Shariah court qadi for the CE’s network in Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, which the mujahedin regard as their ‘Dagestan Vilaiyat’ (DV), and amir of the DV’s Mountain Sector.
If Gimravii-Suleimanov has in fact succeeded Dagestani-Kebekov, this marks a succession of continuity, since Gimravii-Suleimanov is not only another ethnic Avar from Dagestan but is also a long-time associate of Dagestani-Kebekov. The latter noted in an autobiographical article that he and Gimravii decided together to go “on the path of Allah, on the path of jihad,” which they did in 2010. They immediately met with the DV’s then amir al-Bara who was killed in January 2010 (“Amir IK Ali Abu Muhammad – Avtobiografiya,” VDagestan.com, 24 June 2014, http://vdagestan.com/amir-ik-ali-abu-muxammad-avtobiografiya.djihad). Dagistani was appointed by al-Bara’s successor, the notorious Seifullah Gubdenskii (born Magomedali Vagabov), to be the DV’s qadi. Within months he was appointed to succeed Gubdenskii as the CE’s qadi by CE amir Dokku Umarov, the position from which Dagistani would succeed Umarov to become the CE’s present amir. Thus, Gimravii-Suleimanov succeeded Dagistani-Kebekov as the DV’s qadi and now has succeeded him as CE amir.
For the announcement on Gimravii-Suleimanov becoming the CE’s amir, see: (“Kavkaz. Novyi Lider Imarat Kavkaz,” New Mir Islamic, 25 May 2015,https://newsmirislamic.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B7-%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%8B%D0%B9-%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%80-%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%82-%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B7/)
On CE defections to IS, see:
“Changes in Caucasus Emirate’s Leadership and Structure After Defections to the Islamic State,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 20 April 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/04/20/changes-in-the-caucasus-emirates-leadership-and-structure-after-the-defections-to-the-islamic-state/;
“The Islamic State-Al Qa`ida Tussle Over the Caucasus Emirate Continues,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 10 March 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/03/10/the-islamic-state-al-qaida-tussle-over-the-caucasus-emirate-continues/;
RADIO INTERVIEW, Interview on North Caucasian and Eurasian Global Jihadism and Immigrant Screening, Ian McMasters’ Background Briefing, 27 February 2015, http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/bbriefing_2015_02_26full_audioport.mp3;
REPORT: The Caucasus Emirate in the Levant and the IS-AQ Fitna, Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 25 February 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/02/25/the-caucasus-emirate-in-the-levant-and-the-is-aq-fitna-complete-parts-1-and-2/.
On the CE’s decline, see:
“2014 – The Least Capacious Year for the Caucasus Emirate as Expected,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 27 March 2015, https://gordonhahn.com/2015/03/30/2014-least-capacious-year-for-the-caucasus-emirate-as-expected/.
For more on Maqdisi’s relationship with the CE see Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014).
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.