Veteran Chechen fighter Abu Bakr Shishani is fighting alongside the Chechen-led group Ajnad al-Kavkaz in Latakia province, sources have confirmed.
Abu Bakr is the military emir (commander) of Junud al-Sham, Muslim Shishani’s faction, also based in Latakia.
Photos of Abu Bakr next to an Ajnad al-Kavkaz flag have been circulated on the internet in the past several days. In one of the photos, Abu Bakr appears with Khamza Shishani, the military emir of Ajnad al-Kavkaz (and another veteran militant), prompting speculation that the two groups might have merged or that they are fighting alongside each other.
However, the reality is — as I have mentioned before — that Junud al-Sham is not really a jamaat any more. Muslim Shishani strongly hinted at this in his recent video address in which he complained that a lack of money had meant fighters had left. That is not a very recent occurrence, according to sources.
The practical upshot is that Muslim is now an “independent” fighter and Abu Bakr is fighting alongside Ajnad. (Incidentally, Ajnad has been a magnet for other small groups of militants, including Tarkhan’s Jamaat, which is still fighting alongside Ajnad.)
Who is Abu Bakr?
Abu Bakr fought in the North Caucasus including in the short-lived war in Dagestan in 1999. He appears here in this video at 3:51.
Informed sources say that Abu Bakr fought alongside Khattab in Chechnya.
Abu Bakr was seriously wounded — I am not sure exactly of the date, but as ever, information takes time to obtain.
So his story is similar to that of other veteran North Caucasian militants in Syria — including Ajnad al-Kavkaz leader Abdul Hakim Shishani and Khamza Shishani.
Abu Bakr Shishani with Ajnad Emir Abdul Hakim Shishani.
Here is Abu Bakr (center) with Umar Shishan, the emir of Tarkhan’s Jamaat in Syria (left) and with Abdul Hakim again.