A Russian-speaking militant from Moldova has appeared in a new video released by Al Hayat, the Islamic State (IS) group's media wing.
The video was shared on social media, including by pro-IS accounts on the Russian social media website VKontakte. Al Hayat has previously shared Russian-language propaganda material on its official Russian language website, H-Center, which was hosted in the United States, but this has been taken offline.
The militant in the 12-minute video is named as Abdullah al-Moldovi ("The Moldovan"). His address -- in Russian, with English and Arabic subtitles -- is in a notably different style from the inflammatory calls to action by Western militants seen in other recent videos by Al Hayat. This video concerns itself with what Moldovi says are "lies and fabrications disseminated against the Islamic State," and is in essence a religious and ideological message that sets out Islamic State's beliefs regarding the group's declaration of itself as a state. The main issue addressed by Moldovi is what he says are claims by Islamic State's "opponents" that the group's declaration of a "caliphate" are not not legitimate.
The Islamic State group declared that it had established a "caliphate" in the lands under its control in June.
Moldovi discusses the religious reasons and conditions, as he sees them, for the establishment of a "caliphate" and says that these have been fulfilled by IS.
The Moldovan militant explains that the "caliphate" established by IS is "one in which Allah's Sharia is the only law" and that it is "obligatory upon the Muslim to establish the state" when the conditions are right.
Speaking of conditions in Syria and Iraq, Moldovi says that, "Here the mujahideen [militants] control large areas extending thousands of kilometers -- that is, a huge territory, with no law except Allah's Sharia.... In these areas the zakat [a mandatory tax] is collected from the Muslims and the jizyah [tax on non-Muslims] from the Christians."
Moldovi paints a utopian picture of the areas under Islamic State control. "In these areas the roads are safe. You won't find thieves and highwaymen who rob the people. In this territory, in the Islamic State's caliphate, the people live in safety and peace.
Moldovans In Syria?
While there have been numerous reports of other Russian-speaking militants in Syria -- notably from the North Caucasus and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union such as Ukraine -- this is the first report of a Moldovan national fighting with Islamic State in Syria.
Moldovi is most likely a convert to Islam and given his extensive references to the Quran and to Islamic scholars his address, it is likely he has had a religious education. There are only around 2,000 registered Muslims in Moldova, though the Moldovan Islamic League, an NGO representing Muslims, has claimed the true figure to be closer to 17,000.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk