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Criminal Case Brought Against New Kabardino-Balkaria Insurgency Leaders

Emir Ubayda, aka Alim Ramzanovich Zankishev

Emir Ubayda, aka Alim Ramzanovich Zankishev

The Kabardino-Balkaria directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case against Alim Zankishev ("Ubaydullakh"), commander of the Kabardino-Balkaria-Karachai (KBK) wing of the North Caucasus insurgency, and the five men he identified in October as heads of the various insurgency sectors.

They are charged with "public calls to extremist activity" and "organizing the activities of an extremist organization," but not with any of the dozen or so killings the group has perpetrated in recent months.

The five new sector commanders are identified by both their noms de guerre and their civilian names. They are Zalim Tutov ("Abdul-Malik"), 27, commander of the northeast (Baksan) sector; Ruslan Batyrbekov ("Khamzat"), 31, commander of the northwest (Elbrus) sector; Timur Tatchayev ("Khamza"), 30, commander of the southeast (Urvan/Cherek) sector; Khasanbi Fakov ("Abu-Khasan"), 32, commander of the southwest (Chegem) sector; and Azparukh Shamayev ("Umar"), 21, commander of the central sector that includes Nalchik, the republican capital. All except Fakov figure on a list of wanted criminals posted last month on the website of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR) Interior Ministry., the website of the KBK insurgency wing, posted last month separate video clips in which each of the five new emirs identified himself, reaffirmed his commitment to the insurgency, and appealed to fellow Muslims to join the ongoing jihad. Fakov offered the republic's leaders the choice of reverting to the Islamic faith, in which case the insurgency will leave them in peace; paying tribute; or being killed.

Tatchayev alone referred to self-styled Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov ("our dear brother Doku Abu-Usman, may Allah preserve him"), characterizing him as the sole legitimate leader in the entire North Caucasus.

Then on December 4, posted a follow-up video ("Operations of the mudjahedin of the KBK Vilayat, Part 2") to the horrific footage posted in November 2010 of summary executions of police officers and Federal Security Service personnel. Like Part 1, Part 2 was extremely professionally edited, with theatrical special effects, such as flames and the sound of machine-gun fire to underscore the message that the victims are burning in hell.

"Part 2" alternates mug shots of the insurgency's victims -- including 33 police officers, Chegem district council head Mikhail Mambetov (seen sitting at his desk), and KBR mufti Anas Pshikhachev -- with video footage of some of those killings, which were carried out by fighters in civilian clothes, some of them masked, operating in pairs.

The slain police officers were all identified by name, rank, and the unit in which they served, which raises the question: did the killers run the risk of stopping to purloin their victims' IDs? Or do they have a sympathizer within the Interior Ministry who routinely supplies them with photographic material?

"Part 2" concludes, as did "Part 1," with an extract from an earlier statement by Zankishev, warning the republic's leaders: "we shall continue to pray that Allah will kill you with our hands...we shall liquidate the lot of you one by one, we ask Allah to help us accomplish this.... As long as we mujaheds are here and continue fighting, none of you will be able to feel safe."

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.