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The Strange Tale Of New IS Chechen Emir Akhmed Chatayev & His Tour Of Europe

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.

The piece adds some background and color to the story of Chatayev. There are a lot more news articles about him, but this seems to be a good start… The story of Chatayev, according to Kommersant, ranges from Chechnya, Tbilisi, Lopota. Ukraine, Bulgaria and Sweden, and describes him as the emissary of Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov who is on Russia’s wanted list and who was granted political refugee status in Austria before he spent time in a Swedish prison as well as being detained in Ukraine.

Read the original here in Russian.

Doku Umarov Left Without One-Arm

His representative has been arrested in Georgia

17.09.2012

The Georgian authorities intend to independently investigate the activities of Akhmed Chatayev (Akhmed One-Arm) who was arrested in the republic — the representative of the leader of the North Caucasian militants Doku Umarov in Western Europe. Meanwhile, Chatayev who was arrested during a raid by Georgian special forces has long been on the wanted list in Russia on suspicions of recruiting militants and raising funds for the armed underground in the North Caucasus.

Akhmed Chatayev was arrested in early September in the Lopota Gorge, where Georgian special forces conducted search activities after clashes with a group of militants. During the clashes, 11 militants were killed, among which, in particular, was the bodyguard of the former Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev, Dukvakha Dushuyev (Doshuyev), who had received refugee status in the UK. There were also victims among the Georgian special forces: three were killed and several wounded. In that clash, Akhmed Chatayev was also wounded, and he was subsequently arrested by Georgian authorities.

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, the militants infiltrated into that country from Dagestan. According to another version, which is being actively talked about by Chechens living in Georgia, the squad clashed with police when it was actually in Dagestan. Allegedly the field commanders were supposed to take part in a meeting that was gathered by the Caucasian militant leader Doku Umarov.

We would like to note that before the incident in the Lopota Gorge, Akhmed One-Arm — he lost his right arm in the fighting in Chechnya — was living quite legally in Tbilisi. Moreover, having found the gang in the Gorge, the Georgian Interior Ministry itself decided to bring him to negotiate the surrender of the militants, considering that the intervention of such a person of authority among the “forest ones” [a term used to mean North Caucasian militants who lived in the forest] like One-Arm would help avoid bloodshed.

Akhmed Chatayev tricked the Georgian police: he did not persuade the militants to surrender but joined them and joined in the clashes with the police. Anyway, that is how the Interior Ministry in Georgia qualified Chatayev’s actions.

“He [Chatayev] is under arrest for two months, the period set for the preliminary investigation,” the spokesperson for the Georgian Interior Ministry, Salome Makharadze, told Kommersant yesterday, adding that “the detainee is suspected of involvement in illegal armed groups and resisting law enforcement officers.”

Akhmed One-Arm has been wanted by Russian security services since 2003 — since the time that he moved to Austria and received refugee status there. Since that time Chatayev has repeated fallen into criminality and has been convicted for the illegal possession of weapons. In March 2008 he, along with other Chechen natives, was detained on a ferry that had arrived in the Swedish town of Trelleborg. In the car registered to Chatayev were found Kalashnikovs, explosives and ammunition. One-Arm himself claimed that the arsenal was planted on him.

After serving more than a year in a Swedish jail, Chatayev moved to Ukraine. There, Akhmed One-Arm was arrested yet again, but this time at the behest of Russian law enforcement officers who suspected him of recruiting militants and raising money for the armed underground in the North Caucasus. However, the case did not reach extradition: human rights activists intervened for the Chechen. They reminded the Ukrainian authorities that Chatayev had been granted refugee status in Austria and was protected by that state.

For that very reason, Chatayev avoided extradition to Russia, when in May 2011 he was once again arrested when crossing border control at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. At first, the District Court in the Bulgarian town of Haskovo decided to extradite him to Russian but the detainee’s defense appealed, emphasizing Chatayev’s refugee status as well as claiming that Russia would be violent to their client.

“We have not received any requests in connection with Akhmed Chatayev from Russia,” the Georgian Interior Ministry told Kommersant, noting that in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries, that could be carried out via the Russian Federation’s interests department at the Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi. In any case before negotiating an extradition case, One-Arm’s case must be looked at by a Georgian court. He is facing up to eight years in prison.

By Musa Muradov, Georgy Dvali, Tbilisi