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New Video Address By North Caucasus Insurgency Leader


Doku Umarov in a video released in March

Doku Umarov in a video released in March

Fresh video footage posted on websites connected with the North Caucasus insurgency shows Doku Umarov, self-styled emir of the North Caucasus, together with veteran Chechen fighter Supyan Abdullayev, admitting the capture last month of veteran Ingush commander Akhmed Evloyev (aka Magas).

It was the first sign of life from Umarov since his video statement claiming responsibility for the March 29 Moscow subway bombings. The authenticity of that claim has been widely questioned. In the June footage, Umarov looks thinner, and younger, than in footage shot in late 2009 and early this year.

The new footage was posted on July 16 on the Ingush insurgency website hunafa.com, but was dated June. In an address to Ingush militants, with nightingales singing in the background, Umarov admitted that "Akhmed" was betrayed by "several of our enemies," whose identity is not yet known. He praised Evloyev and attributed his current ordeal to God's great love for him. He also affirmed his admiration and support for the Ingush fighters.

Abdullayev too praised Magas, recalling the positive assessment of his abilities by radical field commander Shamil Basayev. Abdullayev described Magas's capture as "a great loss," but added "no jihad is without such losses," and they will not bring the jihad to an end.

Abdullayev said that it has not yet been decided who should be named to take Magas's place in the hierarchy of commanders.

Both Umarov and Abdullayev spoke Chechen. Many of the comments posted on hunafa.com requested a complete Russian translation of their remarks to augment the brief and not entirely grammatical Russian summary superimposed.

Hunafa.com did not explain the delay in posting the new Umarov address. On July 7, the same website posted a statement by the Ingush military command announcing that the "traitor" who betrayed Magas to the Federal Security Service (FSB) was killed during an attempt to capture him alive on June 21. The man's name was given as Timur Arselgov. He was said to have been infiltrated into one of the North Caucasus fighting units two years ago and to have betrayed several other fighters before Magas.

Last week the website most closely associated with Umarov, kavkazcenter.com, posted a series of decrees by Umarov, dated July 15, promoting Magomed Vagapov (aka Seyfullakh Gubdensky) to the posts of kadi (chief judge) of the emirate Shari'a court, and commander of the Daghestan Front. Russian media have identified Vagapov as the husband of Mariam Sharipova, one of the two Moscow subway suicide bombers.

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.

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