medinsky-with-akhmedov

Two more “Medina students” – a Dagestani & a Kyrgyz – killed near Mosul

Islamic State Russian-speaking social media accounts are reporting today (24 November) that the day before yesterday, i.e. 22 November, two more “Medina students” (мединские студенты — the name given in Russian to individuals who have studied in Medina) have been killed in fighting on the outskirts of Mosul.

The reports named the two militants killed as Abdulla Suguri (Абдулла Сугури) and Abu Mar’yam Kirgiz (Абу Марьям Киргиз).

The noms de guerre of the fighters include their country or region of origin. So, Suguri is from the village of Sogratl in Dagestan, which in Arabic is Sugur (as made famous* by the Dagestani Sheikh ‘Abd ar-Rakhman of Sogratl (as-Suguri, Абдурахмана-Хаджи-ас-Сугури, 1792-1891) and his son, Mukhammad Khadji as-Suguri or Sogratlinski, the fourth imam of Dagestan and leader of the 1877 rebellion against Russian rule.

Abu Mar’yam Kirgiz is, rather obviously, an ethnic Kyrgyz.

The IS social media report gives a list of all of the Medina students killed thus far (or as the report puts it, the “Караван шахидов из числа мединских студентов,” [“the Caravan of Martyrs from among the Medina students”] — it is not clear if this “caravan” is related only to Mosul deaths):

Абу Мухаммад Берикейский – Abu Mukhammad Berikeysky (from Berikey in Dagestan)
Аздар абу СайфуЛлах Дагестани – Azdar Abu Sayfullakh Dagestani
Рамазан Осетия – Ramazan Ossetia
Ибрахим абу Джабир Щищани – Ibrakhim Abu Dzhabir Shishani (from Chechnya)
Мухаммад абу Зейд Дагестани Mukhammad Abu Zeyd Dagestani
Али абу Халид Дагестани – Ali Abu Khalid Dagestani
Сиражутдин абу Адам Дагестани – Sirazhtudin Abu Adam Dagestani
Абдулла Сугури – Abdulla Suguri
Абу Марьям Киргиз – Abu Mar’yam Kirgiz

Of these the most famous is probably the Dagestani preacher Mukhammad Abu Zeyd Dagestani (Mukhammad Akhmedov) whose picture is above, with Akhmed Medinsky. His death was reported on 21 September; he was killed in Mosul in a drone strike alongside a number of other Russian-speaking influential figures, including Chamsulvara Bagomedovich Chamsulvarayev, a 32-year-old former male freestyle wrestler who was born in Makhachkala, Dagestan. I wrote a piece exploring these deaths for IHS Janes. Basically, Akhmedov had been a well-known Salafist preacher in Dagestan and had studied for a short time in the Islamic University of Medina before joining IS’s Russian contingent in Iraq alongside several other Dagestani preachers in 2014.

The reports that talked of Akhmedov’s death also talked about the death of one “Abu Dzhabir Medinsky” whom various Russian reports claimed was probably from Karachay Cherkessia (all the reports simply repeat each other). Either Abu Dzhabir Medinsky is the same as Ibrakhim Abu Dzhabir Shishani, and this individual is a Chechen not a Karachay, or the IS social media channel has missed a death.

It is important not to underrate the impact these losses have on IS’s Russian-speaking contingent, a topic I have also explored elsewhere.