A Chechen militant who says he is fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria has posted a heartfelt open letter to his mother, confessing that he misses her when he is alone at night but hoping that he will make her proud when he becomes a "martyr" and dies in battle.
Abu Abdullah Shishani ("The Chechen") shared the letter on his VKontakte account on March 15.
"Mama, I know you are crying -- it hurts that you lost me...And I also feel longing at night when I am alone... remembering you," Abu Abdullah writes.
Abu Abdullah's letter is part of a trend that has developed among Russian-speaking, usually North Caucasus militants from various factions in Syria, who use social media to post their own writings -- poems, open letters, diary entries, accounts of dreams -- that tell of their experiences. These militants, including Abu Abdullah, usually express their thoughts, memories, and opinions using the language and ideology of militant jihad.
While their accounts are intended to be shared among others in order to move and motivate them, unlike the "official" polished and glossy propaganda material published by IS's Al-Hayat media wing, they appear to be written for consumption within the smaller Russian-speaking "jihad" community and do not have messages for a Western audience.
In his letter, Abu Abdullah first describes his journey, both physical and spiritual, to Syria from the Russian Federation, using Arabic terms for particular "jihadi" concepts. Abu Abdullah describes himself leaving the jahiliyyah, a concept that refers to the "ignorance" of the pre-Islamic period and which was reinterpreted by the Egyptian Islamic theorist Sayyid Qutb to mean a government system or ideology based on human values, rather than those of God.
"You may ask, who have you become? And I will answer -- I no longer work for the taghut (idolators)...I ran away from the kuffar (infidels)...the turmoil...I left my jahiliyyah in Istanbul in the airport," Abu Abdullah writes.
Even though Abu Abdullah has undertaken hijra, the journey to a land governed by Shari'a law, he says he is troubled because he had to leave his mother behind.
"But someone is sitting at home, slowly whiling away the day," Abu Abdullah writes, adding these words of support for his mother: "I will become a martyr, Mama, God willing. And I will go to God as a bird of Paradise."
Abu Abdullah describes for his mother his days as an IS militant in the "Land of Sham," an old term for Greater Syria used by IS and other Islamist groups.
"I walk in the Land of Sham...and I love you with all my heart, Mama. In my hands is my friend the AKM (Kalashnikov rifle) and I pray as I travel. And my hands tremble every time I write you an SMS. For me this is jihad, for you it is stress," Abu Abdullah writes.
Although his mother believes he will come home, Abu Abdullah says that she had better simply pray for the militants.
"My town does not know quiet and I have further to go on this path. The zeitun (olive) trees and the red earth have become my new Fatherland. I'm learning Arabic! I've already gotten used to it here, Mama," Abu Abdullah tells his mother.
Abu Abdullah says that he knows all this will not satisfy his mother, however, even though he has the "taste of the Euphrates River" on his lips.
Switching to block capitals to emphasize his emotions, Abu Abdullah tells his mother his most important news.
"I AM A LION OF JIHAD, MAMA. AND I DON'T KNOW FEAR, PRAISE GOD!" Abu Abdullah explains.
As he signs off, saying that jihad is calling him to battle, Abu Abdullah tells his mother that he will give her a big hug in heaven.
"This is only the [material] world, a dream. I hope that you will wake up with me in Heaven," Abu Abdullah writes.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk