The Chechen-led group Tarkhan’s Jamaat (Джамаат Тархана) — which is, of course, the Jamaat of Chechen amir Tarkhan Gaziyev — has renamed itself this week to Katibat Ibad ar-Rahman.
The group posted this photo on social media this week showing its fighters under the new flag with the new name:
I’ve written about Tarkhan’s Jamaat before and reported on its involvement in fighting in Latakia province, where it was previously based (and where the group fought alongside the leaders of Ajnad al-Kavkaz).
Sources close to the group told me that:
— The group’s Amir is still considered to be Tarkhan. More on that below.
— The group’s military amir is still Umar Shishani, who is pictured in the photo above.
–The group is still an independent jamaat.
— The jamaat’s new name was suggested to it by Islamic scholars “for the benefit of the Muslims.”
— The jamaat is currently operating out of Aleppo (previously they operated out of Latakia).
— The group has been in Syria for four years. Before it came to Syria it considered part of Imarat Kavkaz but has not been part of IK in Syria.
— The jamaat has been in existence since 1999.
–The group’s Amirs all fought in Chechnya.
— The current group has ansars (ансары), Syrian fighters (this is a common pattern among North Caucasian foreign fighter groups in Syria).
There have been photos of a wounded Umar Shishani posted on social media. The photos were taken after Umar was wounded in a battle in Khan Tuman in Aleppo in spring or summer 2012, when he was fighting alongside Vakha Shishani, who was then the leader of the North Caucasian contingent in Syria. I wrote about him here.
Tarkhan, by the way, is not thought to be in Syria (though in fact his location has been kept secret) — I am interested that the group says he is the Amir and Umar is the MA. In fact, Umar appears to be the de facto leader in Syria.