Public Service Announcement: This Is An Academic Blog NOT A PRO-JIHAD SITE

It has been brought to my attention that some individuals are apparently incapable of reading the About page or any of my posts, and based on the title of this blog are laboring under the delusion that it a pro-jihad site run by Chechens.

I had thought this was patently obvious…

This blog tracks North Caucasian militants in Syria and Iraq and the impact of their participation in the Syrian battlefield on the insurgency in the North Caucasus.

Is Sinai the new Syria? Evidence Russian-speaking fighters left Raqqa & went to Egypt

I’ve written a longer and more detailed piece for Jane’s on evidence that Russian-speaking jihadis are in Egypt, including with Islamic State in Sinai, but wanted to share a few very brief points here. Continue reading Is Sinai the new Syria? Evidence Russian-speaking fighters left Raqqa & went to Egypt

Wife & Child of Islamic State Dagestani Preacher Being Returned To Russia From Iraq

The wife of one of Islamic State’s contingent of Dagestani preachers has been named  on 1 December on a list of a group of women and children who are being returned to Russia from Iraq. One child is being returned along with the woman.  Continue reading Wife & Child of Islamic State Dagestani Preacher Being Returned To Russia From Iraq

Был ли Абу Ибрахим Шишани “другом Масхадова”? / Was Abu Ibrahim Shishani a “friend of Maskhadov”?

Не знаю почему, но мне очень нравится узнавать* настоящие личности боевиков ИГИШ (организация запрещена в РФ и в Великобритании).

На этой неделе, узнала, что старый рыжебородый Абу Ибрахим Шишани, который появлялся в нескольких видео ИГ, на самом деле Алхазур Мовлидович Дасаев, р. 1969. Continue reading Был ли Абу Ибрахим Шишани “другом Масхадова”? / Was Abu Ibrahim Shishani a “friend of Maskhadov”?

Абу Умар Грозный (Мохьмед) убит в Ракке Chechen IS Amir Abu Umar Grozny Killed Near Raqqa

English after Russian.

Известный чеченский амир/боевик ИГ (организация запрещена в РФ) Абу Умар Грозный, (ака Магомед/Мохьмед Диресов) умер где-то в Ракке, кажется, в начале октября 2017 г. До тех пор не было официального объявления о его смерти, но теперь я думаю, что я могу написать с уверенностью, что его уже нет в живых. Continue reading Абу Умар Грозный (Мохьмед) убит в Ракке Chechen IS Amir Abu Umar Grozny Killed Near Raqqa

Muslim Shishani: ‘I was never a terrorist & I’ve always hated terrorists’

Muslim Shishani, the amir of the Latakia/Idlib-based jamaat Junud al-Sham, has given a long multi-part interview to the Russian-speaking pro-Islamist independent media activist Muhammad Jazira. Below  is a partial translation of his answer to the question of what he thinks about the fact he has been labeled a “terrorist.” His answer is very similar to that of other Russian-speaking fighters in Syria (I am not talking about IS, the group that is banned in Russia).

Here’s my usual disclaimer.

Continue reading Muslim Shishani: ‘I was never a terrorist & I’ve always hated terrorists’

Imarat Kavkaz fighter Askhat Koybaev killed in Abu Dali, Hama

Imarat Kavkaz fighter Askhat Koybaev (alias Usama KBK) has been reported killed fighting in the HTS-led offensive at Abu Dali village in Hama province. Koybaev was a member of the “Dagestani Imarat Kavkaz” i.e. the group led by Salakhuddin Gimrinsky (there is another, rebel, Imarat Kavkaz). This is a small group that is fighting alongside Jaish Muhajireen wal-Ansar* (part of HTS, and which now once again also contains some former IK fighters). Continue reading Imarat Kavkaz fighter Askhat Koybaev killed in Abu Dali, Hama

Ajnad al-Kavkaz suspend military operations, citing “events in and around Syria”

Idlib-based jamaat Ajnad al-Kavkaz issued a statement on 1 October announcing that they were suspending military operations “until other groups determine their strategy in the Syrian jihad.” Continue reading Ajnad al-Kavkaz suspend military operations, citing “events in and around Syria”

I Am Left Alone, Drowning In Tears: Russian-language Women’s Jihadi Poetry

One aspect of jihad in general and the war in Syria in particular that is relatively little explored is the pain, worry and grief experienced by the families of those who go to fight or be part of the conflict in other ways (these are not always men, as this case shows). While I have been aware of this as a background issue , in the past weeks, I have been forced to think more about this, for various reasons, some of which I have published on this blog, others I have not (i.e. cannot). As I explained to someone earlier this week, when people write about jihadis, they miss the stories of mothers waiting at home, hoping that their sons are still alive, and unable to get news of them. Many if not most of these family members are not part of the jihadi world, but they have been forced to confront its harshest realities — i.e. the loss of their loved ones (which in the case of Syria also means the loss of the wives and children of the jihadis).

But this is an issue that is explored in Russian-language jihadi culture in various ways, including through poems and essays, sometimes written by the jihadis themselves but also by mothers, wives and family members left behind. These poems are a subset of women’s jihadi culture within the Russian-speaking jihadosphere*. This genre did not emerge with the Syrian conflict — there are poems dating back to the Chechen wars, for example. Some of the poems are original and others are plagiarized from existing works, but the authors change some of the words to include references to mujahideen.

I have collected quite a few poems of this genre, and I’ve posted a couple of them, with rough translations, below to give you a flavor of these. Many of the poems mix feelings of sadness and fear with “correct” expressions of how a mother or wife of a mujahid should think and feel (this is a constant conflict in other expressions of Russian-language jihadi culture on martyrdom/death in battle).

NB the featured image for this post is of IS militant Mukhammad Abu Barud Dagestani as a child, posted by his wife after his death in 2015.  Continue reading I Am Left Alone, Drowning In Tears: Russian-language Women’s Jihadi Poetry