‘IS’s Abu Waheeb Really Liked North Caucasians’ & Notes On Circassians & Shishanis

An Islamic State militant from Dagestan posted on social media about Abu Waheeb, the IS leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in May 2016, talking about how he really loved North Caucasian fighters.

I’m sharing the post because while it is amusing, it also offers some insights into how Russian-speaking IS militants see themselves, how they have integrated into IS and into the perennial issue of Syrians seeing all North Caucasians as Shishanis, i.e. Chechens (actually this is a phenomenon in the Western media as well). The post was from October 14 but I have not had time to get to it until now. I’ve tried to preserve the rather ungrammatical Russian in my translation.

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Абу Ухъейб или Шакир этот брат да примет его Аллах очень любил мухаджиров особенно тех, кто разговаривал на русском языке, вчера сидели и разговариввли про него как он встретил мухаджиров с кавказа в анбаре, он приказал ансарам отдатт все самое лучшее снаряжение , еду и макъары для них, был очень мягким и искренним с ними. О нем очень много можно сказать, да сделает его Аллах лучше чем мы о нем думаем. АМИН

 Abu Waheeb or Shakir that brother may Allah accept him really loved muhajireen [foreign mujahideen] especially those who spoke Russian, yesterday we were sitting and talking about him and how he met muhajireen from the North Caucasus in Anbar, he ordered the ansars [Syrians] to give all the best equipment, food and makkars [housing] for them, he was very soft and sincere with them.
The author of the post explains that he talked with North Caucasians who were in Abu Waheeb’s katiba (brigade) in Anbar. Note the comment on food, above — food and sharing food and being given food or included in meals is hugely important, so by mentioning this fact the author is seeking to demonstrate just how much Abu Waheeb respected North Caucasian muhajirs!
There have been many reports I have heard about Syrian fighters considering “Chechen” foreign fighters to be elite and worthy of respect. One source insists that this is why Umar Shishani managed to be so successful: because he was one of the first North Caucasians to join the Syrian conflict and impressed the locals by calling himself Shishani, i.e. “the Chechen” (but that source despises Umar and IS, so bear that in mind).
The comments also raise the issue of how Syrians see all North Caucasians as Shishanis:
Аллаху Агъалам ахи в рамади много кто воевал мухаджиров и кавказцы для них все шишани
Allahu Alam brother, in Ramadi many of those who fought were muhajireen and North Caucasians for them are all Shishanis
Вчера сидел с одним сирийцем лет 55 мне говорит ты откуда я говорю дагъистан, он смотрит на меня не понял что это дагестан, потом говорю русия знаешь, он говорит где то слышал ))) бедуины такие бывают
Yesterday I sat with a Syrian aged around 55 he says to me where are you from and I say Dagestan, he looks at me not understanding what Dagestan is, afterward I say Russia you know, he says I heard it somewhere :))) There are Bedouin like that.
The poster is asked how it’s possible that no one knows where places like Dagestan are.
Ахи они в школе не учатся бедуины живут в пустынях занимаются хозяйством
Brother they don’t go to school Bedouins live in the deserts and they’re farmers
(Well, quite, though ask your educated European or North American friends to point out Dagestan on an map and see what happens…)
He adds:
Кавказцев арабы называют шишани а турки черкесы
The Arabs call North Caucasians Shishani and the Turks Cherkessians,
He explains:
Тут есть в хомсе дагестанцы переселившиеся во время шамиля дейр фуль называется еще в дейр зоре говорят ест но лни все арабы чистые на лицо
Here in Homs there are Dagestanis who moved during the time of Shamil, it’s called Deir Ful they say there are some in Deir Ezzor but they all look exactly like Arabs.
He is talking about the village of Deir Ful in northern Syria which has a predominantly Circassian population. Several Syrian Circassians joined North Caucasian jamaats in Syria, though some sources play down the numbers while others play them up.