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Anti-IS Chechen Militants Accuse Group Of Treating Recruits As 'Cannon Fodder'

There is ample evidence to show that militants from across the region -- mostly from Daghestan and Chechnya -- are present in a number of armed Islamist groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State group. (file photo)

There is ample evidence to show that militants from across the region -- mostly from Daghestan and Chechnya -- are present in a number of armed Islamist groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State group. (file photo)

A social media account linked to the Chechen-led faction Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA), which considers itself to be the Syrian affiliate of the North Caucasus militant group the Caucasus Emirate, has accused the Islamic State (IS) group of using inexperienced young recruits as "cannon fodder."

The account, which appears to be run by a female JMA supporter who calls herself Aygul Salagayeva or Bely Sneg ("White Snow"), is one of the largest pro-JMA accounts with a presence on both Facebook and the Russian social network VKontakte. The account often posts the opinions of North Caucasian militants in JMA.

JMA, which also has an Islamist ideology and which fights the Syrian government alongside groups like Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, has been in an increasingly bitter ideological battle with the Islamic State group since December 2013.

The post on February 2 accuses the Islamic State group and its propagandists, including a Russian-speaking individual who uses the alias Murad Atayev and appears to be located in Turkey, of deceiving young recruits.

"Young people cheated by propaganda from those such as Murad Atayev and similar media workers of the "Baghdadi State" [a pejorative term for the IS group used by some Russian-speaking militants] about a "great victory" are rushing to join this sect, thinking that they are going to a "caliphate" that is growing every day," the post by Salagayeva says.

The post goes on to claim that the Islamic State's leadership is in disarray.

"In reality, [the IS group's] leadership is panicking and throwing these novices into battle without giving them necessary information about the enemy and without equipping them with the required weapons (which it hasn't got, it's been left in Kobani, etc.)," Salagayeva goes on to say.

The remark about the Islamic State's leadership is likely a reference not only to the group's overall leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but also to Umar Shishani, the IS military commander in Syria, a Russian-speaking militant from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.

Chechen militants fighting in JMA and with the group named Seyfullakh Shishani's Jamaat, which is part of Jabhat al-Nusra, have previously accused Umar Shishani of using foreign fighter recruits for "cannon fodder" as a military strategy. One militant, who goes by the name Khalid Shishani and who fights with Seyfullakh Shishani's Jamaat, has blamed Umar Shishani for causing high casualty rates in battles because of this tactic.

Salagayeva's post goes on to criticize the Islamic State's recent tactic of making videos in which militants call on Muslims from their home countries to carry out attacks against civilians.

"Being unable to repulse the enemy with modern weapons, these people actively made videos of mass killings and urged their supporters to murder ordinary citizens in Europe and America," Salagayeva wrote.

The post ends with a call to wanna-be militants not to join Islamic State.

"So you who are in a hurry come here to wage jihad; if you want to die in a questionable way and get a dubious martyrdom [a term used by militants to refer to dying in battle], considering where and how you will die -- you should really go to [IS]. But those of you who want to fight in Allah's path, stay away from this meat grinder," the post concludes.

The post is the latest example of a recent trend of social media accounts linked to JMA and other anti-IS Chechen militants in Syria openly criticizing the Islamic State group.

Last week, accounts linked to JMA expressed positive reactions to the Kurdish victory over the IS group in Kobani, even though they insisted that they do not support the Kurds.

The trend reflects the increasing animosity between North Caucasus militants in IS and those in other factions, particularly JMA. The growing rift between the factions -- which began after Umar Shishani left the letter to pledge allegiance to IS leader Baghdadi in December 2013 -- has been exacerbated in recent weeks after a number of Caucasus Emirate groups, mostly in Dagestan, pledged allegiance to the IS group.

-- 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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