On 4 August, Ajnad al-Kavkaz released* a video in Chechen with Russian subtitles featuring the jamaat’s amir Abdulhakim Shishani (read my recent interview with him here), Muslim Shishani (Amir of Junud al-Sham) and Salakhuddin Shishani** (Amir of Jaish Usro). The video is an address to the Syrian people and is a response to the recent and ongoing clashes between HTS and Ahrar al-Sham. I am writing a detailed analysis of the video for Jane’s looking at its significance and responses from various groups, so I will not give any analysis here, but for fun I just did an on the fly translation of the Russian subtitles (I would have preferred to translate the Chechen but I can still only pick out a few words…).
There was a lot of interest in the piece I translated here, about a North Caucasian woman’s view of making hijra to Syria along with her husband and others. So I thought I would also do a quick translation of the below piece, which was also written by a Russian-speaking woman in Syria, in which she talks about the issue of educating her children. A few points: Continue reading A Russian-Speaking Mom Writes About Educating Her Kids in Idlib:
An essay written by a North Caucasian Russian-speaking woman and wife of a Russian-speaking jihadi formerly based in Latakia province in Syria (and not connected in any way with The Islamic State group) was posted on 8 July on the telegra.ph site. As part of my work I collect posts/essays/poems etc by Russian-speaking fighters — almost all of which are written by men. Because this is comparatively unusual I thought I’d quickly translate and share it. We don’t often get a glimpse of the lives of the Russian-speaking women who have accompanied their husbands to Syria — and the overwhelming majority of what has been written is about IS “jihadi brides” or women connected with IS in other ways. Anyway the original piece has some rather fascinating photos of the interior of the house that the woman describes, which I have also posted here.
Out of interest, I have translated a few personal reactions of Russian-speaking mujahideen (which includes both those who are fighting in jamaats and those who are media activists* in Syria, these do not include any individual in IS nor connected to or supportive of IS) to the talks in Astana. The individuals were not expressing the views of any jamaat or group. Continue reading Some comments from Russian-speaking fighters/media mujahideen on Astana talks
I reported fairly recently on the fact that Tarkhan’s Jamaat have renamed themselves as Katiba Ibad ar—Rahman and had answered a few questions I put to them. Continue reading Tarkhan Gaziyev ‘Prevented By Illness From Joining Jamaat In Syria’
Someone on Twitter asked me why Sayfullakh Shishani left Umar Shishani’s jamaat back in 2013.
I realized that I had translated part of a letter written by Khalid Shishani, who used to be part of Sayfullakh’s jamaat, who gave his account of what had happened. Umar is not portrayed in a good light here — Khalid did not admire Umar. However, it seems as if I did not post my translation anywhere (if I did, I cannot find it here — the search has been terribly slow lately. Anyway it can’t do any harm to post it twice.) Continue reading Khalid Shishani On Why Sayfullakh Shishani & Umar Fell Out
Trusted sources who knew Rustam Gelayev, the son of Chechen commander Ruslan Gelayev, well (and who were also acquainted with Ruslan), have confirmed that Rustam was killed in Syria in August 2012 and have given more details about the early days of the North Caucasian involvement in the Syrian civil war, which show that Imarat Kavkaz was involved in the conflict, in a sense, from very early on. It also gives clues to the struggles within IK, including between its Chechen and Kabardinian elements. Continue reading 1st Imarat Kavkaz Amir in Syria Fought Alongside Gelayev In Chechnya, Died Fighting Alongside Ahrar
North Caucasian fighters in Syria have commented on social media about Umar Shishani, with interesting reactions to comments by other fighters that Umar was not a good military commander. While the debate over Umar has been incredibly polarized, with anti-IS North Caucasians slamming him and IS mythologizing him (and reports in the Western press doing the same, more on that below), here we have some context from North Caucasians who experienced the conflict first hand. I have translated the comments below. Continue reading North Caucasian Fighters: Umar Shishani Was Brave, Honest & Talented Even If He Made Mistakes
The Chechen-led group Ajnad al-Kavkaz have issued a statement in Turkish on their website that condemns the 28 June 2016 terrorist bombing at Ataturk Airport. (Updated 9 July: the group has issued a longer statement in Russian setting out their position on the attack in Istanbul and on the 5 July bombing in Medina).
Continue reading UPDATED: Ajnad al-Kavkaz Issue Statement Condemning Istanbul Terror Attacks
I am now in a position to report more information on Katibat Junud al-Makhdi (KJM), the newly formed Tatar and Bashkir jamaat in Syria, which was created from the merger of two existing groups, Jamaat Bulgar and Jaish al-Shomal al-Islami. Continue reading More Detailed Information & Interview With Newly-Formed Tatar Group Junud Al-Makhdi Whose Amir Trained In North Caucasus With Khattab