Salakhuddin Shishani, the Emir of Jaish al-Mujahireen wal Ansar (JMA) — the faction that considers itself the Caucasus Emirate’s affiliate in Syria — has always been something of a mystery. Recently, I have uncovered some fresh information that might shed some light onto Salakhuddin’s past in the North Caucasus, and which also demonstrates the complicated relationship between Russia and Georgia regarding militancy in the North Caucasus and links with the Pankisi Gorge. Continue reading Who is Salakhuddin Shishani aka Feyzullah Margoshvili (aka Giorgi Kushtanashvili?)
The Chechen-led faction Ajnad al-Kavkaz (formerly the Khalifat Battalion) have published a “chronology of the battles of the jamaat Ajnadul Kavkaz [sometimes the group writes its name as Ajnadul Kavkaz, sometimes as Junud Kavkaz and sometimes as Alnad al-Kavkaz] for the town of Idlib” on the group’s site, Khliafa.org. Continue reading Ajnad Kavkaz Tell How Their Jamaat Helped ‘Liberate’ Idlib
Chechen-led faction Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA) claim to have repelled an attempted assault by pro-Assad forces on the Aleppo Central Prison on the night of June 3. Continue reading Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar Say Repelled Assad Attack On Aleppo Central Prison
Over the past year and a half, a small number of cult figures have arisen among the Chechens fighting in Syria. The most prominent of these are ISIS military emir Umar Shishani, and his arch-rival Sayfullakh Shishani, killed in a failed raid on Aleppo Central Prison. Admiration for these cult figures is expressed in a number of ways, including “fan fiction”. Continue reading I Dream Of Umar: Jihadi Dreams & Cult Figures
FiSyria, the website run by Russian-speaking fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham close to Umar Shishani, have made a number of claims recently that the group is fighting regime forces. Why are Chechen/ North Caucasian fighters from ISIS making these claims now? Continue reading Syria: ISIS Attempts To Claim Legitimacy With Reports Of Operations Near Tiyarah, Aleppo
Earlier, we wrote about the 2003 arrest and charging of Muslim Abu Walid Shishani–or Murad Margoshvili as he was previously known– by Russian security forces. The story becomes even stranger, however, with allegations that Margoshvili / Shishani was kidnapped alongside 5 other Chechens before “turning up” in a detention facility in Ingushetia. Continue reading The Strange Tale of Muslim Shishani Part 2: 2003 Kidnapping & Arrest
In a sign that the rift between Chechen factions in Syria is deepening, Chechen military leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham have used the death of Caucasus Emirate leader Dokku Umarov to make public criticisms of their rivals, Chechen-led group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar (JMA), and to turn to the new leader of the Caucasus Emirate with a vow to supply evidence of JMA’s wrongdoing. Continue reading How Chechen Alliances With Islamic Front Broaden Rift With Umar Shishani
Earlier, we reported that veteran Chechen jihadi Muslim Abu Walid Shishani and his Jundu Sham faction had returned to Latakia to take part in the “Tower 45” offensive.
Here is a longer video that shows Muslim Shishani after the capture of the Tower 45 base by insurgents.
Muslim is filmed with his second-in-command, Abu Tarib Shishani.
Muslim says that the insurgents have taken the whole area including the village of Kasab and that they will continue further.
For a biography of Muslim Shishani, see here:
As noted here, Sayfullakh Shishani’s jamaat in Jabhat al-Nusra has taken part in joint operations this week with Chechen-led Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, as well as the Islamic Front and Ahrar a-Sham, to battle Syrian forces in Balleramoun on the outskirts of Aleppo city, just south of Kafr Hamra. There is another account here (in Russian).
What is the significance of the joint operations? Some quick thoughts:
- Sayfullakh’s jamaat within Jabhat al-Nusra are undertaking joint operations with Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar. This in essence unites both factions against ISIS, who have strongly condemned JMA, and have tried to undermine that faction through video messages from fighters who claim to have left JMA.
- The faction is also fighting alongside both the Islamic Front and Ahrar a-Sham, the two groups that ISIS continues to criticize.
- The Chechen factions are keen to continue fighting the Assad regime and are not interested in fighting ISIS.
- The new military Amir of Sayfullakh’s jamaat, Mohammad Shishani, has been killed in the fighting,meaning that a new Amir will have to be chosen.
- Even though Sayfullakh’s jamaat has (well, had) a new Amir, it is still known as Sayfullakh’s jamaat and fighters still talk about missing him.
- ISIS, whose military amir is a Chechen, and whose structure contains a Chechen/ North Caucasian jamaat, appears to be isolated completely from its fellow countrymen. Not only are they not taking part in these battles against the regime, but their fellow countrymen and (in many cases) former comrades-in-arms from the time when Umar Shishani led JMA, have united and are fighting alongside the factions that ISIS denigrates.
- Apart from these interesting dynamics, there is also a military dimension — the battle in Balleramoun is gaining ground for the insurgents against regime forces on the northern edge of Aleppo city. In this, the Chechens are helping the insurgents push forward from gains in Kafr Hamra to the north west. (It is worth noting that Hraytan, the next town to the north of Kafr Hamra, was Umar Shishani’s “home base” since he came to Syria and is where Sayfullakh was based also.)
Chechen faction Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar (JMA) are involved in attacks on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in al-Layramoun, on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo city.
JMA considers itself part of the Caucasus Emirate.
Pro-jihad, pro-Caucasus Emirate website Kavkaz Center writes:
KC sources reported that the storming of advanced positions of Assad’s forces on the outskirts of the main enemy base near al-Layramoun (near Aleppo ) began at 2:00 Monday night on March 17.
Assault groups of JMA attacked Assad’s forces who were entrenched in a complex of multi-story concrete buildings, which has been turned into an enemy outpost on the outskirts of the Assad regime’s main army base.
We note that in al-Layramoun there is a regime artillery base is and also the headquarters of the military intelligence and security services and the headquarters of the Idarat al-Amn al-Amm (General Directorate of Security) of Aleppo province .
From the territory of the artillery base regime forces regularly shelled positions of the Mujahideen and settlements in large parts of the province.
The attack began under cover of night. By noon Monday, the Mujahideen were able to gain a foothold on the ground floors of several of the major buildings.