Update as of 16 September — Al Bara has been confirmed alive, as are his wife and children.
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.
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
In late June, a number of news reports in Russian and Georgian (I can’t read the latter) noted that a 39-year-old militant from Duisi in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia had been killed “in Syria.” Some of the reports said that the militant had been in the “Yarmouk brigade” and had fought alongside Akhmad Chatayev. The first fact is almost certainly not true (he died in Iraq) and the second is flimsy and unverifiable, but let’s unpick it. Continue reading Umar Margoshvili IS militant from Duisi in Pankisi killed in Iraq
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”
The Emir of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar has given an interview (his longest yet) in which he says he fought in Chechnya under Ruslan “Hamzat” Gelayev including in Abkhazia. Continue reading Salakhuddin Shishani Fought Under Gelayev & In Abkhazia
Salakhuddin Shishani, the Emir of Jaish al-Mujahireen wal Ansar (JMA) — the faction that considers itself the Caucasus Emirate’s affiliate in Syria — has always been something of a mystery. Recently, I have uncovered some fresh information that might shed some light onto Salakhuddin’s past in the North Caucasus, and which also demonstrates the complicated relationship between Russia and Georgia regarding militancy in the North Caucasus and links with the Pankisi Gorge. Continue reading Who is Salakhuddin Shishani aka Feyzullah Margoshvili (aka Giorgi Kushtanashvili?)
Turkish pro-jihadi website Ummet-i Islam has published an interview with the Emir of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA), Salakhuddin Shishani. Continue reading JMA Emir Salakhuddin Shishani: ‘We Wanted To Go To Chechnya But Found Ourselves In Syria’
As a follow up to my piece for RFE/RL about how Akhmed Chatayev, aka Akhmed Shishani, has turned up in Syria in a video with Abu Jihad and apparently the Emir of a Chechen-led faction called the Yarmouk Battalion, below is a translation of an interesting piece from Kommersant, published after Chatayev’s arrest in Georgia in 2012.
Continue reading The Strange Tale Of New IS Chechen Emir Akhmed Chatayev & His Tour Of Europe