Two more men killed since then, on March 16 and 19, have likewise been identified by the authorities as militants. The first, named as Aslan Emkuzhev, 23, was said by Russia's National Anti-Terror Committee to have undergone terrorist training in Lebanon and fought on the side of the Palestinian group Fatah al-Islam.
In the wake of the March 10 killings, the Kabardino-Balkaria Federal Security Service (FSB) directorate announced on March 16 it has opened separate criminal cases on charges of instigating terrorism against two prominent KBK fighters, KBK jamaat commander Asker Jappuyev (nom de guerre Abdullakh) and Kazbek Tashuyev (aka Abdul-Jabbar), commander of the Baksan sector northwest of Nalchik.
The case against Asker Jappuyev is based on a directive he issued in early February after a group calling itself the "Black Hawks" began targeting the homes of insurgents' families. The leader of that group has since been identified as an FSB officer.
The case against Jappuyev is based on a directive he issued in early February after a group calling itself the "Black Hawks" began targeting the homes of insurgents' families. The leader of that group has since been identified as an FSB officer.
Jappuyev's directive called for a general mobilization of reservists and for monitoring the movements of senior members of the republic's government. At the same time, Jappuyev repeated his earlier orders not to harm the families of police officers who do not target Muslims and their families.
Tashuyev is to be held responsible for a video statement in mid-February in which he claimed responsibility in the name of the jamaat for the killings of two local businessmen. He implicitly warned that in the event of further reprisals against militants' families, they will retaliate by targeting the relatives of Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR) head Arsen Kanokov and members of the government.
Oddly, no comparable criminal case has been opened against a third prominent commander, Ratmir Shameyev (Amir Zakaria), although some of his video statements claiming responsibility for extrajudicial killings and appealing to young men to join the jihad are no less inflammatory than that by Tashuyev.
Zakaria, who at 22 is regarded with adulation by many bloggers sympathetic to the insurgency, is amir of the southwestern sector that includes the settlement of Shalushka where the three fighters were killed on March 10. The decision not to bring legal action against him may have been intended to cast doubt on his reliability in the hope of sowing doubt and distrust within the insurgency ranks in general, and possibly between the Kabardians and Balkars in particular. Tashuyev and Zakaria are Kabardians; Jappuyev and Amir Musa (Buzjigit Khajiev), who heads the northwest (Elbruz) sector, are Balkars.
Speaking at a press conference in Nalchik on March 11, Valery Ustov, who heads the Investigative Committee's KBR Directorate, cast doubt on the existence of the Black Hawks, referring to them as "a virtual project" and noting that there is no evidence to connect them with the recent killings of two young Muslims who subsequently proved to have no ties to the insurgency. In a seeming contradiction, however, Ustov said groups like the Black Hawks are "dangerous," and that his agency considers them on a par with the militant underground.
Ustov further warned that businessmen who pay kickbacks to the insurgents, whether voluntarily or under threat, will in future be considered as accessories to the crimes they commit and held responsible.