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Will gruesome footage of the cold-blooded killings by Islamic insurgents lead to mass resignations from the local police?

Will gruesome footage of the cold-blooded killings by Islamic insurgents lead to mass resignations from the local police?

The two high-profile attacks by Chechen suicide bombers in late August and mid-October have eclipsed the more frequent, and more deadly attacks committed almost on a daily basis by Islamic insurgents in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Chilling footage of two of those attacks, and of the execution-style killings of two Interior Ministry personnel and two other men, has just been posted on one of the insurgency websites "with the very best wishes from your brothers of the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai jamaat." Comments posted to the website range from "we have not seen anything like this before" to expressions of ecstatic approval. There has been no explicit condemnation of the executions.

The nine-minute video clip is titled "Operations by the mujahedin of the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai jamaat. Part 1." The montage is highly professional. Images of a police vehicle being blown up by a remote-controlled bomb and of the killings are interspersed with earlier statements by the commanders of the various territorial sectors.

Erstwhile Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai (KBK) jamaat leader Seyfullakh (aka Anzor Astemirov), who was killed in a special operation in Nalchik in March, warns the Russians and their proxies: "We are asking you just for one thing -- submit to Allah and to him alone.... Otherwise we shall kill you and capture you. Get out of the lands of Allah that you have occupied."

Zakaria, the baby-faced emir of the Chegem sector, similarly warns: "As long as we can stand on our feet, we won't give you a moment's respite on this earth. We have made a vow to Allah to fight to the end and carry on killing you to the last drop of blood."

The execution victims are all identified: Imin Ibragimov, a police inspector from Daghestan vacationing in Kabardino-Balkaria, and Iosif Nersesian from Rostov Oblast, were killed during the night of August 8-9. Local policeman Mukhtar Baychukuyev and Viktor Veremeyev (identified by local media as a farm worker who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) were killed during the night of August 18.

There are also still shots of three more victims: a married couple from Krasnodar Krai, both of them Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives, who were killed on August 26 while on a camping holiday with their 12-year-old daughter (whom the militants spared); and local police officer, Akhmat Khubuyev, reportedly killed in an exchange of fire on October 20.

The footage testifies to the expertise the KBK jamaat has acquired in assembling, planting, and detonating improvised explosive devices, and to the sophistication of its tactical thinking: the attacks on August 8-9 and August 18 were reportedly carried out by men in camouflage uniforms who claimed to be Moscow Interior Ministry special-forces personnel.

The footage was not the first of the killing of a police officer: the earliest known example of that genre is that of the assassination in June 2009 by a sniper in Makhachkala of Daghestan's Interior Minister Lieutenant General Adilgirey Magomedtagirov. It is, however, the first of executions in cold blood, filmed at close range. As noted above, almost all comments expressed unequivocal approval. Only one asked why the unfortunate Veremeyev was targeted: the response was "because he was hanging out with that cop Baychukuyev."

The clip ends with Ubaidullakh, the Balkar commander of Kabardino-Balkaria's central sector, warning, "we are telling those people who fight against us every day with weapons in their hands but still keep on saying that 'the war is coming to an end' -- the war is only just beginning."

All the killings except that of Khubuyev predate the offer made to police in Kabardino-Balkaria last month by KBK jamaat commander Asker Jappuyev of immunity from attack in the event that they quit the Interior Ministry and publicly announce that they have done so. Whether the graphic footage of the summary executions will occasion mass resignations from the local police remains to be seen.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.