Category Archives: Umar Shishani

UPDATE Al Bara Pankisi, his wife & children confirmed alive in Syria

Update as of 16 September — Al Bara has been confirmed alive, as are his wife and children.

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Another update, as of 5 p.m. BST on 2 September — it seems like Al Bara’s family in Pankisi are not 100% sure whether he is actually alive or not, since they only received one message that is definitely him but after that nothing.

They wanted to believe in the best possible outcome — some of them still believe in it. But others seem not so sure.

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I don’t like updating posts because it is confusing for readers. Usually I would  make a new post. But in this case I will update this one,  not only because I want to report correct information but because it’s a good way to illustrate how confusing information from Syria is.

I reported, based on sources (social media and sources in Georgia) that Al Bara Pankisi, a Kist (ethnic Chechen) from the Pankisi Gorge in Syria, had been reported killed in Syria along with his pregnant wife and two children.  You can read my original post below. Al Bara was reported killed alongside his wife and two children when a car they were travelling in was shot at. The reason the news got out is because someone in Syria contacted Al Bara’s friends/relatives in Georgia and reported that it was him in the car. But last night his friends reported that they managed to talk to Al Bara and he and his family are alive and well. No one knows who was in the car, or whether it was a Chechen family or not.

So yes, Syria is a war zone and details of what is happening are often hard to verify, particularly when it comes to deaths. In this case, someone’s relatives and friends were led to believe that someone had been killed. Apart from the stress  of having a relative or friend in Syria, imagine what the past few days must have felt like for the relatives and friends of Al Bara!

Continue reading UPDATE Al Bara Pankisi, his wife & children confirmed alive in Syria

North Caucasian Fighters: Umar Shishani Was Brave, Honest & Talented Even If He Made Mistakes

North Caucasian fighters in Syria have commented on social media about Umar Shishani, with interesting reactions to comments by other fighters that Umar was not a good military commander. While the debate over Umar has been incredibly polarized, with anti-IS North Caucasians slamming him and IS mythologizing him (and reports in the Western press doing the same, more on that below), here we have some context from North Caucasians who experienced the conflict first hand. I have translated the comments below. Continue reading North Caucasian Fighters: Umar Shishani Was Brave, Honest & Talented Even If He Made Mistakes

Umar Shishani’s Man Who Fought At Menagh, Then Was Killed In Dagestan

Ever since the first reports of Russian-speaking militants fighting in Syria emerged in the media, questions have been raised about the specter of “blowback” — i.e. what would happen if and when some of these militants returned home to wage “jihad” in the Russian Federation. Here is evidence of one militant who did return from Syria to Dagestan, where he was killed in a counter-terrorism operation and was suspected of preparing to commit terror attacks in that North Caucasus republic. Continue reading Umar Shishani’s Man Who Fought At Menagh, Then Was Killed In Dagestan

Why Dagestani Preacher Nadir Abu Khalid’s Joining IS Was A Coup For Abu Jihad

IS’s announcement of “Vilayat Kavkaz,” the Islamic State group’s “province” in the North Caucasus was in large part the result of the rise to power and political machinations of North Caucasian militants not in Chechnya or Dagestan, but in Iraq and Syria. Continue reading Why Dagestani Preacher Nadir Abu Khalid’s Joining IS Was A Coup For Abu Jihad

JMA Split After Losing Its North Caucasian Majority & Amid Weak Caucasus Emirate

Abu Abdullah, a JMA militant, has written an explanation of the situation surrounding deposed JMA emir Salakhuddin Shishani and military emir Abdul Karim Krymsky.

The explanation sheds a lot of light onto the dramatic events of the past few weeks and days regarding the leadership of JMA; it also provides some more information about the state of the group following the departure of its former Amir, Umar Shishani and his entourage in November-December 2013 for IS. Continue reading JMA Split After Losing Its North Caucasian Majority & Amid Weak Caucasus Emirate

Umar Shishani To Kebekov: “I Didn’t Have Bay’ah To Umarov When I Came To Syria”

Almost three hours of video footage from 2014 featuring Umar Shishani, IS’s military commander, and his close confidante Abu Jihad has come to light, in which Umar addresses the then-emir of the Caucasus Emirate, Kebekov, and says he did not have a bay’ah to Dokku Umarov when he came to Syria in the autumn of 2012. Continue reading Umar Shishani To Kebekov: “I Didn’t Have Bay’ah To Umarov When I Came To Syria”

Abu Jihad Appears In IS “Iraq Death Squad” Video

Umar Shishani’s confidante Abu Jihad has appeared in a new video from the Russian-language Furat Media, which shows a group of Russian-speaking militants being “trained” (or hyped up) to become an elite “death squad” in Iraq’s Anbar province. A few notes about the video, which is entitled “Iraq: Yearning For Paradise.” Continue reading Abu Jihad Appears In IS “Iraq Death Squad” Video

Via RFE/RL: Chechen Linked To Lopota Gorge Incident Heads IS Battalion In Syria

I wrote this piece for RFE/RL (read the full piece here) on February 25. Continue reading Via RFE/RL: Chechen Linked To Lopota Gorge Incident Heads IS Battalion In Syria

IS’s Abu Jihad Slams Caucasus Emirate & Gives More Details of “Truce Request” Meeting In Raqqa

A new development in the ongoing and increasingly bitter infighting among North Caucasian militants aligned to the Islamic State group and Caucasus Emirate in Syria, and those in the North Caucasus has unfolded over the past week. Key events have centered on a recent audio/video address by Abu Jihad, the close confidante of the Islamic State group’s military Emir in Syria, Umar Shishani, which the Caucasus Emirate’s Sharia judge Abdulla Kostekskiy has criticized, as have pro-CE accounts on social media. Continue reading IS’s Abu Jihad Slams Caucasus Emirate & Gives More Details of “Truce Request” Meeting In Raqqa

Muslim Shishani “In Sharia Court Dispute Over ‘Fitna’ Among Chechen Jihadis”

A strange thing happened regarding Muslim Shishani, the Emir of the Junud a-Sham (JAS) faction in Latakia: his “media mujahideen” announced that JAS was merging with Ahrar a-Sham, then deleted all references to that announcement after Ahrar a-Sham denied it. Since then — silence. So what happened? One explanation has emerged…and it has to do with Umar Shishani and the cousin of Caucasus Emirate propagandist Movladi Udugov. Continue reading Muslim Shishani “In Sharia Court Dispute Over ‘Fitna’ Among Chechen Jihadis”