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
KavkazPress has published more details on Muslim Shishani’s earlier years, including some photos of him sans beard, some of which I cannot resist translating here. Some of the information KavkazPress has included is stuff I have already published in earlier posts, and I am not going to reproduce that here. Continue reading More About Muslim Shishani’s Early Years As a Militant In Ingushetia (With Pics!)
Khalid Shishani, an ethnic Chechen militant fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, has written a letter warning that the IS group is winning the propaganda war among Russian-speaking Muslims and calling on his fellow non-IS jihadis to step up their game to reach Muslims (by which he means pro-jihadi Muslims of course) in Russia and particularly in the North Caucasus. Continue reading Khalid Shishani: IS is Winning the Propaganda War in Chechnya
Local media in Russia are reporting that the passport of a Russian militant, Andrey Karasik, has been found in Syria in areas liberated from IS by Kurdish militias. The suggestion is that Karasik and his wife and two children, also Russian converts, have been killed — though this is not proven. Continue reading How A Jewish Man & Professor’s Son From Volgograd, Nicknamed “Goldfish,” Joined IS
A few days ago, the news broke on IS social media that Abu Aisha Kazakhi, an IS militant from Kazakhstan, had been killed. Here are some of the facts I have gleaned about Abu Aisha in my several months of tracking him. Continue reading Who Was Abu Aisha Kazakhi, The Kazakh IS Militant Killed In Palmyra?
Said Buryatsky, a.k.a. Said Abu Saad, continues to be an important and influential figure in North Caucasian jihad circles, even after his death in 2010. Buryatsky is frequently mentioned by various North Caucasian groups in Syria — including North Caucasian factions in the Islamic State (IS) group, who employ his words and image often including as part of their attempts to legitimize their movement as a natural successor to the Caucasus Emirate. Continue reading An Note On How IS Chechens Use Said Buryatsky In Mythmaking
Chechen militant Muslim Shishani, the Emir of the Latakia-based Junud al-Sham group, has made a new video address in which he talks of the difficult situation in Latakia province and calls on other mujahideen elsewhere in Syria as well as outside the country to come to assist in the fight.
The video is seven minutes long.
It was released amid reports that the Syrian Arab Army has entered the rebel stronghold of Salma in Latakia assisted by Russian air strikes. (Though it seems that the video was made on January 10).
Here are a few of Muslim’s remarks:
— the situation [in Latakia province] is complex
— this is not because the enemy is very strong and we can’t do anything
— They brought their whole strength in order to knock us out of here
— and if you look at our numbers, they should have done that long ago
— But the small number of muhajideen here are doing the maximum possible
— We don’t understand it, it’s like we are cut off from the other part of Syria, no one is rushing to help us, even though there are enough mujahideen in Syria, the important thing is to distribute them properly
— We understand that there are difficult places there too [i.e. militants are struggling elsewhere in Syria]
Muslim then begins a rant addressed at those who are not coming to help fight in Latakia.
He says that on Judgement Day, people will be judged according to what they did or did not do.
He calls on the mujahideen to remember why they went out to jihad and come to “help their brothers.”
— “The brothers are overloaded to the max,” he says.
When his group had enough militants, they went to help in various situations, Muslim says.
Muslim talks about the difficulties his jamaat experienced because of the “fitna” with the IS group including difficulties in fundraising.
He said, “Мы стучались в двери ко многим, кто мог хоть как-то помочь удержать джамаат” — “we knocked on the doors of many [people] who could somehow help to maintain the jamaat.”
As a result of the financial difficulties, Muslim says he had to let many of his fighters go.
The fact that Muslim has admitted his financial difficulties and that his numbers have dwindled is significant. Reliable sources say that Muslim’s jamaat dwindled significantly — some say he has only around 30 North Caucasian militants. But this is a problem faced by other non-IS North Caucasian groups in Syria, mostly because of the rise of the IS group and its comparative recruitment and fundraising power. (Internal politics and squabbling also played a role — I have written about the reasons why Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar fell apart as a North Caucasian group elsewhere.)
Muslim also complains that people who say they want to wage jihad are not doing so because they are hearing that there is a fitna and that Muslims are killing each other or that there are not enough fighters in Syria.
“We find this difficult to understand,” Muslim says.
Muslim refers to a hadith in which Muhammad asks God to bless Sham (Syria) and Yemen.
“You are not going out [to jihad] at a time when the Ummah really needs you,” he said.
All of the jamaats are in a difficult position, Muslim adds.
Ajnad al-Kavkaz, the Chechen-led militant group based in Latakia province, has posted some images and details about its military amir, Khamza Shishani, who like the group’s amir Abdul Hakim Shishani is a Chechen who fought in Chechnya before he came to Syria. Continue reading A (Very) Short Bio of Khamza Shishani, Military Amir of Ajnad al-Kavkaz
Salakhuddin Shishani has been removed as the emir of the Caucasus Emirate in Syria, but the name of the group’s new emir has not yet been announced, sources said on December 3.
This is a developing story, more news as it happens.
Muslim Shishani, the Emir of Junud al-Sham, a small Latakia-based North Caucasian group of about 30 North Caucasian militants*, has given an interview to Turkish-language Al-Jazeera, which someone has conveniently translated into Russian. So I have translated it into English. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the Russian translation from Turkish, and it sounds as clunky as heck, so caveat emptor. Continue reading Translation Of Muslim Shishani’s Interview With Al Jazeera Turkish