Saturday, December 19, 2009
A short video compilation of attacks against Russian military and security forces targets in the Russian-controlled Caucasus was released a week ago. The attacks took place in various republics loosely known by Caucasian Muslim insurgents as the "Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus" (IEC), which includes Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ingushetia. The IEC is an umbrella for several Muslim insurgent groups operating in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and other Caucasus republics who seek independence from Russia, which under former president and now strongman "prime minister" Vladimir Putin has sought to reestablish Russian dominance in the areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union. Chechnya was one of the first theaters where both regional "nationalists" and transnational jihadi Salafis began filming their attacks.
Members of groups associated with the IEC include both Salafis and Sufis (Muslim mystics traditional to Central Asia, the Caucasus, and many parts of the Muslim world). Hardline Salafis of the jihadi trend have taken issue with the IEC's tacit endorsement of a kind of regionalized Caucasian Muslim nationalism.
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the most influential jihadi-Salafi scholar alive, penned a letter warning against nationalism to the IEC, which was published in September, revealing tensions between purist jihadi-Salafis and religious-nationalists like many of those in the IEC. He wrote, "At the first opportunity to contact Amir Abu 'Uthman [the IEC amir ("leader") Doku Umarov,] I am calling on him to renounce democracy and the ruling system of idols, and raise the banner of Islam pure and free of polytheism. I am informing him that such a decision does not require summoning the council [of other amirs], as it is his own responsibility. He is first responsible for his soul and rescuing it from the Day of Judgment, but he is also responsible for the souls of his followers and for military planning, and will answer to this before God, the Great and Almighty."
Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus video compilation