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Daghestani Offers How-To Guide For Joining IS In Syria

A photo of what pro-Islamic State social media claim is a member (left) of a predominantly Chechen IS faction in Syria and Iraq.

A photo of what pro-Islamic State social media claim is a member (left) of a predominantly Chechen IS faction in Syria and Iraq.

A Daghestani militant fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) group has published the first part of a guide for those wanting to travel from the North Caucasus to join IS in Syria.

Part one of the guide, titled Advice To Those Who Are Relocating, was shared on the Russian social network VKontakte on March 25 by pro-IS accounts and was authored by a militant named Mukhammad Abu Barud al-Daghestani.

The publication of the guide comes in the same week as a message purportedly from Russian-speaking women who have joined IS in Syria published a message calling on other women to join them. The timing of the publication of both the guide and the message from the "Islamic State sisters" suggest that Russian-speaking IS militants are carrying out a deliberate campaign to bring new recruits to join them in Syria.

The guide also sheds light onto the routes to Syria taken by militants in the North Caucasus.

Daghestani gives some practical advice for would-be IS militants seeking to leave the North Caucasus and reach Syria, saying that his suggestions are based on his personal experience.

"The first dilemma faced by Muslim men and women who have made the firm decision to relocate is the question of how to safely leave the country without hindrance. Many people write in and ask about this," Daghestani writes.

There is no easy route, unless you happen to be rich, he admits.

"In all honesty, if you have money, you can get to Europe and cover your tracks, do a couple of laps so to speak and then stop off in Turkey," Daghestani says.

Not Wanted By The FSB? No Problem!

For those who do not have much ready cash, Daghestani has some good news: it is still possible to get out of Russia -- unless, of course, you happen to be wanted by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

"If you are not on the wanted list or under house arrest, then no one can stop you from being able to leave the darned country. You can go to Russia and then to Turkey, for example from Krasnodar or Mineralnye Vody or any other airport in Russia. Or you can go to the border with Azerbaijan, cross it in a taxi and go to the airport, and there no one will monitor your departure to a tourist country," Daghestani says.

According to Daghestani, most of the the time, the Azerbaijani authorities will not question those wishing to fly to Turkey.

If the authorities do ask about the reasons for your departure, Daghestani says this is no big deal.

"Just prepare a plausible tale in advance. Speak confidently, calmly and coolly. They won't believe you. But they won't be able to arrest you, because the law doesn't let them and every infidel who questions you doesn't care a hoot if you stay in Russia or not," Daghestani says.

There is one problem that potential militants from the North Caucasus might face in Azerbaijani airports, though -- the authorities have taken to calling the parents of suspicious individuals and asking them if they know their children are traveling to Turkey.

Daghestani has an answer, though: Have an IS sympathizer, "preferably an adult," agree to take telephone calls from "infidels" at the airport.

"Get them to confirm their consent for you to visit sunny Turkey," Daghestani says.

If all else fails, Daghestani says there is another option.

"You can always leave the country illegally," he says. "The methods are well-known and no secret even to the infidels."

What To Pack When You're Joining A Militant Group

Daghestani also offers advice on what wannabe North Caucasian militants should bring with them when they try to travel to Syria.

"The answer is, travel light. First, it does not attract attention. Second, all you need to live in the Islamic State and for jihad is sold in Turkey," he advises.

Would-be North Caucasian militants are advised to raise the necessary cash by selling their worldly goods before they head off to Syria.

"This is your last journey, so don't skimp!" advises Daghestani, adding that if potential IS recruits don't have enough money "for clothes and stuff" it is not a problem.

"IS will not let you go without. You will be clothed and fed," he explains.

Ideology Of 'Emigration'

Like the message from the Russian-speaking women in IS, ad-Daghestani's guide focuses not only on the practicalities of coming to Syria, but also emphasizes the concept of "hijra" or emigration and its physical and spiritual connotations.

"Hijra does not mean just your physical movement from A to B, it is a blessed journey for your body and soul, abandoning in full everything that was dear to you in this world, all that you accumulated over the years, leaving your parents, your relatives, your friends and your brothers in religion," Daghestani preaches in his guide.

Most people who travel to Syria to join IS do so alone, he adds, saying that "only in exceptional circumstances will you meet those lucky people who moved here with their wives, children and parents all together."

Daghestani stresses the ideological and religious connotations of joining IS in Syria, saying that to do so is to "relocate to God."

Radicalization Fears

The apparent campaign by militants from the North Caucasus to attract new recruits to travel to Syria comes amid a crackdown against extremists in the region, particularly in Daghestan.

Russian security authorities conducted counter-terrorism operations in five districts and three towns in Daghestan on March 15-16, according to Russian media reports.

The March 15 operations were carried out in the Buynaksky district and in Buynaksk town, and on March 16 spread to the Kizilyurtovsky, Khasavyurtovsky, Novolaksky, and Kazbekovsky districts and the towns of Kizilyurt and Khavasyurt.

Rights defenders and experts on the region said that the counterterror operations were likely a result of warnings made by the head of the Kremlin's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, who said earlier this month of concerns regarding links between IS and militants in the North Caucasus.

The head of the FSB, Aleksandr Bortnikov, said last month that as many as 1,700 Russian nationals are fighting in Iraq alongside IS and other extremist groups and that the number of Russian militants there had doubled in the past year.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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