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Militant Leader Reported Killed In Ingushetia

Police check cars for weapons on the road to Ekazhevo in Ingushetia. Militants in the region had announced a moratorium on attacking such rank-and-file members of the police.

Police check cars for weapons on the road to Ekazhevo in Ingushetia. Militants in the region had announced a moratorium on attacking such rank-and-file members of the police.

Russia's National Counterterror Committee has identified as one of three fighters killed during a counterterror operation early on January 27 as Dzhamaleyl Mutaliyev (nom de guerre Emir Adam), commander of the Ingushetia front of the North Caucasus insurgency.

Mutaliyev was killed in what appears to have been a classic counterterror operation. Security personnel backed by helicopters and heavy weaponry surrounded a private house in the village of Ekazhevo, southeast of Nazran, and launched an all-out attack when the fighters rejected a demand to surrender. The security forces claim not to have incurred any casualties.

That account suggests that an informant alerted the security forces to Mutaliyev's whereabouts. A comment on the report of his death posted on, the website of the Ingush wing of the North Caucasus insurgency, expressed incomprehension "why the brothers do not take routine security precautions." The security lapse was all the more puzzling given that Mutaliyev, like other prominent Ingush fighters, and in contrast to most Chechen, Kabardian, and Balkar militants, never appeared in front of a camera unmasked.

According to the Counterterror Committee, Mutaliyev was 35, had been fighting since the second Chechen war (1999-2000), and was close to renegade Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev, who was killed in July 2006 in Ali-Yurt, just a few kilometers south of Ekazhevo. If that information is true, then Mutaliyev was almost certainly one of the Ingush fighters who under Basayev's command staged attacks on police and security personnel across Ingushetia in June 2004, killing 67 of them.

"Emir Adam" was first identified as commander of the insurgency wing in Ingushetia in August 2010, when Doku Umarov first announced and then retracted his decision to step down as self-styled Caucasus Emirate head. A group of senior Chechen commanders withdrew their sworn allegiance to Umarov in protest; Adam reaffirmed his loyalty to Umarov as "a sincere and worthy Muslim and a steadfast fighter."

It was Adam who formally identified the Riyadus Salikhiin suicide battalion as responsible for the suicide bombing in September 2010 in Vladikavkaz that killed 19 people and injured a further 240. He described that bombing as part of the Ingush campaign to drive the Ossetians out of "Ingush lands they have occupied," meaning the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia that was part of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR prior to the 1944 deportation of the Chechen and Ingush peoples to Central Asia. In the same statement, Adam denied that it was his fighters who tried in mid-September 2010 to kill respected Islamic preacher Khamzat Chumakov.

Not Attacking The Rank-And-File

In the fall of 2010, the "qadi" (Shari'a judge) of the Ingushetian insurgency wing announced a moratorium on attacks on rank-and-file police officers, "not because we do not have the strength to kill them in their homes, but because we hope that they will reconsider and show understanding for our position."

The leadership of the Ingushetian insurgency wing reaffirmed last August that "we have never had any interest" in killing those officers of ancillary services such as the traffic police and the drug-control agency "who are not hostile to Muslims."

But Mutaliyev's men have no compunction about attacking other members of the security forces. They claim to have perpetrated no fewer than 100 attacks in 2011, including one in August on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia in which they killed at least four Chechen Interior Ministry personnel and injured up to seven. They also claimed responsibility for the killing in late August of a senior Ingush Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, Magomed Korigov.

The insurgency website calculated that 36 federal and local military, police and security personnel were killed in Ingushetia last year and 46 injured; came up with a lower total, 19 killed and 32 injured.

One possible successor to Mutaliyev as commander of the insurgency wing in Ingushetia is the Kabardian Haji-Murat Bekov, an Umarov protege seen here in early 2011 huddled with a fellow fighter in a foxhole knee-deep in slush and melt-water. If Umarov is grooming Bekov to play a key role in planned attacks to disrupt the Sochi Winter Olympics in early 2014, it would make sense for him to acquire combat experience commanding a multinational group of fighters.

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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