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Umarov Warns Of Further Attacks On Russian Infrastructure

A screen grab shows a man identified as Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov recording an appeal at an undisclosed location

A screen grab shows a man identified as Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov recording an appeal at an undisclosed location, the main website of the North Caucasus insurgency, has posted over the past 24 hours three separate, short video clips by Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov in which he affirms support for the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and warns of further attacks on Russian infrastructure in the wake of the January 24 suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.

All three videos are dated February, but two were apparently filmed later than the first, in which Umarov and one of his two unidentified companions are wearing winter camouflage. His veteran second-in-command, Supyan Abdullayev, is not present. The clips are filmed against a forest background, with snow visible on the ground. The sound of Russian military planes overhead repeatedly renders Umarov's words almost inaudible.

The first clip takes the form of an address by Umarov to the Muslims of the North Caucasus and Russia as a whole. He deplores the indifference of world Muslim community, claiming not even 0.5 percent of its 1.5 billion members are engaged in jihad. He claims in that context that "today we [presumably meaning the North Caucasus insurgents] are the avant-garde of the jihad, the saviors of the Umma."

Addressing Muslims in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and elsewhere in Russia, Umarov reminds them of their obligation to join the jihad and exhorts them to "destroy the enemies of Allah wherever your arm can reach." Russia has imposed total war on us, Umarov argues, and in total war there is no such concept as the civilian population. He concludes by reminding his audience that he is North Caucasus amir "by the will of Allah."

The second clip shows Umarov alone, in normal camouflage fatigues. Addressing Muslims in Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries (he does not mention Libya), he affirms that insofar as the revolution in those countries represents "an attempt to restore the word of Allah, the law of Allah," the mujahedin of the North Caucasus will pray for its success.

In the last of the three videos, posted on March 4, Umarov asks how Russian Muslims can live at peace with themselves in a country that is waging war on their co-religionists in the Caucasus and remain indifferent to that struggle. He goes on to warn that "you think you will be spared this misfortune, but it will catch up with you." He appeals to them to "awake," unite, and take up arms against the unbelievers.

Turning to the aftermath of the January 24 suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport that killed 37 people, Umarov says he released the video clip of himself, the suicide bomber Magomed Yevloyev (aka Seyfullakh) and Amir Khamzat (commander of the Riyadus-Saliikhin suicide battalion, soft-spoken, articulate, seen here with the blonde sniper who is one of Umarov's personal bodyguards) only after the Russian authorities had established Yevloyev's identity and arrested his 22-year-old sister and 16-year-old brother as accessories. At the same time, Umarov affirms that those reprisals against Yevloyev's family will not deter other fighters from carrying out similar suicide bombings in future.

Umarov says Russia "should acknowledge that it is at war with the Muslims of the North Caucasus," and he warns that the insurgents will target Russian infrastructure in the same way that Russian forces "dropped tons of bombs" on Grozny airport and the surrounding districts without regard for the civilian population. "Everyone should acknowledge that war is war, and it has its own methods, whether you consider them good or bad." He says the insurgents' aims are sacred, and that they intend to "establish justice on earth," in contrast to the enemy's determination to "enslave all Muslims."

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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