IS Russian-language social media accounts have claimed that the notorious “executioner” Anatoliy Zemlianka was killed in the Iraqi IS stronghold of Mosul about a month ago.
This has not been independently confirmed and I am hoping (I will ask them if it seems that they do not) that the Russian media will follow up on this and perhaps contact his family to see if they have heard anything. Лента.ру?
Zemlianka was nicknamed Jihadi Tolik by the Russian media last December after he appeared in a gruesome video in which he beheaded another Russian-speaker, a Chechen man named as Magomed Khasiev (Магомед Хасиев). Zemlianka’s nickname was of course a reference to the British IS “executioner” who the British press had nicknamed Jihadi John. Zemlianka’s story attracted a lot of media attention, not least because of the horrible video, but also because he was a Russian convert to Islam who somehow ended up as an IS head chopper. In a similar fashion to the UK coverage of Jihadi John, the Russian media enlightened a presumably eager public about various aspects of Zemlianka’s life pre-IS, such as the fact that his favorite band had been Rammstein. (I would have thought it had been Korn or The Insane Clown Posse, myself).
But Zemlianka was not the first Russian-speaking militant in Syria/Iraq to carry out a beheading, though — that was a Dagestani named Abu Banat, who I have written about before.
Here are some facts in Russian from the star-town.ru site which I have translated.
28-летний палач ДАИШ Анатолий Землянка, получивший прозвище Джихади-Толик, закончил школу № 3 в городе Ноябрьске Ямало-Ненецкого автономного округа.
The 28 year old Daesh executioner Anatoliy Zemlianka, who has been given the nickname Jihadi Tolik, graduated from School No. 3 in the town of Noyabr’skin the Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous Okrug.
Анатолий Землянка переехал из Ноябрьска в Тюмень в 2006 году. В областной столице Анатолий Землянка учился в ВУЗе и занимался карате.
Anatoliy Zemlianka moved from Noyabrsk to Tyumen in 2006. In the capital of the oblast [he] studied at a college and trained karate.
В 2010 году он завел страничку в социальной сети «ВКонтакте». Однако вместо того, чтобы указать свое настоящее имя, парень стал именовать себя Толиком Таймуллой.
In 2010 he started a page on VK. But rather than showing his real name the lad started to call himself Tolik Taumullakh.
Последние записи датированы 2011 годом. Последний статус Землянки: «Плачь мужчины – это слезы льва!».
The last notes were dated 2011, Zemlianka’s final status: The weeping of a man — these are the tears of a lion!
Тарас Землянка, брат палача ДАИШ Анатолия, сообщил правоохранителям, что давно не общался с ним. Кроме того, Тарас даже не знал, что его брат Анатолий Землянка отправился в Сирию воевать на стороне боевиков.
Taras Zemlianka, the brother of Daesh executioner Anatoliy, told the security authorities that he had not spoken to him for ages. Also, Taras did not even know that his brother Anatoliy had gone to Syria to fight alongside militants.
This is Zemlianka before he became an IS militant.
Judging from social media posts, Zemlianka, or Teymullakh as was his nom de guerre, was a popular figure among IS’s Russian-speaking contingent.