The Kremlin and militant websites claim Russian forces killed Aliaskhab Kebekov, leader of the Caucasus Emirate insurgent group, in Dagestan. He died along with four other militants.
Dagestan, the homeland of the Boston Marathon bombers, is home to radical Islamists responsible for terrorist attacks in Russia. The groups took responsibility for bombs in Volgograd three months before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The raid this week took place at a house in Buikaksk, which is southwest of the capital Makhachkala. The NAK (national Anti-Terrorist Committee) released a video “showing the house exploding and a shootout followed by more blasts.” It ends with the house “in ruins, with the rubble ablaze.”
Two jihadist websites mourned the death of Kebekov and the four militants who died with him. They websites claim the militants all died as martyrs.
Kebekov became leader of the Caucasus Emirate after previous leader Doku Umarov died. Unlike Umarov, Kebekov was not a Chechen and preferred to stay out of the limelight. The U.S. State Department listed him as a terrorist in March 2015.
Russia exacerbated the fight against radical Islamists after a number of Chechens fled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). On March 23, the Kremlin’s presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District announced an ISIS presence at universities in the North Caucasus. Three days later, the envoy claimed ISIS contains over 1,500 militants from the North Caucasus.
One of the top commanders in ISIS is Omar al-Shishani, a Chechen Georgian. He fought in the Russian military before he recruited men for jihad in Georgia. In July 2014, officials believed the Chechen was one of the top commanders within the terrorist group. He has appeared prominently in a propaganda video touring a children’s terrorist training camp.
A Russian ISIS fighter claimed the terrorist group will come after Russia due to President Vladimir Putin’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The terrorist group released the video in September.
“This message is for you, Vladimir Putin!” said the fighter. “These are the aircraft you sent to Bashar [Assad], and we’re going to send them to you. Remember that!”
We will, with the consent of Allah, free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus! The Islamic State is here and will stay here, and it will spread with the grace of Allah! Your throne has already been shaken. It is under threat and will fall with our arrival. We’re already on our way with the grace of Allah!
In October, Omar texted his father about his activities in Iraq, saying that Russia is next.
“He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” explained Temur Batirashvili. “I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.”
That same month, Iran and Russia announced a joint effort to enhance their military operations against ISIS.
Russian-speaking women in ISIS released a message to women in Russia to join them in Syria. The women claim they are in “the blessed land of Sham,” which is the name other caliphates have used for a region that includes most of Syria. They ask their sisters “in the lands of the infidels” to join them, since Russia “is a state of humiliation and shame.” Turkey recently arrested four Russians who attempted to cross into Syria.