Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov declared his special forces have allegedly infiltrated the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.
“An extensive spy network has been set up inside Isis,” said Kadyrov in a documentary.
He claims Chechnya’s “best fighters” are working “alongside Isis fighters,” and the “Chechen agents had infiltrated Isis cells ‘to gather information about the terrorist group.'”
Russian state-controlled station Russia One plans to air a documentary on Wednesday that shows Kadyrov at a camp that trains these special force agents, the Russian air force is successfully destroying terrorist bases in Syria,” he continued.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to confirm Kadyrov’s remarks. Last October, Kadyrov announced his desire to send Chechen troops to the frontlines in Syria, but only if Putin approved.
But after the rebuttal, Kadyrov’s spokesman insists his boss never mentioned special troops.
“Ramzan Kadyrov has never said that Chechen servicemen are fighting in Syria,” stated Alvi Karimov, adding:
I don’t think anyone needs any explanations about the threat posed by terrorism, the more so as we are speaking about direct threats to Russia. This threat requires all possible efforts. Ramzan Kadyrov has never spoken about any “Chechen special task force.” Only Russia’s law enforcement agencies have such units. Neither has he spoken about any land operations allegedly involving the “Chechen special task force.” Some young men are staying in Syria exclusively on their own initiative.
No one has sent them there. They are communicating certain information of operational interest. This information turns out to be useful. Thanks to these people it has become possible to spot terrorist training centers, channels of recruiting and routes used to send recruits to the conflict zone from certain countries. It is quite natural that some people are fighting against terrorism exclusively on their own initiative, for ideological and religious considerations, facing a risk of being exposed any minute as they have to pass themselves off as anti-government militants Islamic State and other terrorists really are.
Russia and Chechnya are the former homes of the most Islamic State terrorists outside of the Middle East.
“A total of 405 people, according to our data, have left Chechnya to join the fighting in Syria on the side of the Islamic State since the beginning of the war in that region,” said the Russian Interior Ministry in June. “Among those, 104 have been killed and 44 came back, while the fate of the rest is unknown.”
In total, over 2,000 Russians have joined the Islamic State.
“The figures start getting really alarming,” commented Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov. “At the time being, around 2,200 people from Russia are engaged in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Among them, about 500 came from Europe, where they had earlier obtained citizenship, residence permit or refugee status.”
He added: “We are thoroughly analyzing belligerent statements of IS leaders on transition of the ‘jihad’ to Northern Caucasus and in Central Asia.”
The documentary could be the latest evidence of a possible fractured friendship between the two leaders. From The Independent:
The report and its rebuttal by the Kremlin show cracks in the official narrative about Russia’s presence in Syria. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the presence of its troops on the ground and remained evasive over whether Russian special forces are operating in the country. The report adds to mounting evidence that Mr Kadyrov has spun out of Moscow’s control and may be vying for greater influence in the region.
In March, analysts discovered Kadyrov’s actions might have caused the growing tensions inside the Kremlin. Murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov noticed a “fray” between Putin and Kadyrov. Putin has continued publicly supporting Kadyrov, despite the numerous human rights violations known to occur in Chechnya. Giving Kadyrov the presidency allowed the 38-year-old to “create the Islamic republic that Chechen separatists had dreamed of — albeit one entirely reliant on Moscow for financial support and where Shariah law is selective, not absolute.” But critics believe Kadyrov is now “seeking power and relevance far beyond his base” within Chechnya. Nemtsov was one of the more outspoken critics of this relationship.
The world believes Putin ordered Nemtsov be killed, but four people told Bloomberg he was not happy about the murder:
Putin was furious when he learned of the killing, which occurred on a bridge near the Kremlin, four people familiar with the matter said. Putin, who took charge of the probe and then disappeared from public view for a week, became even more alarmed when investigators said they’d traced a hit list of other critics to Chechnya, another person said. Putin has given Kadyrov free rein to kill jihadis and create what even former Chechen officials such as Beslan Gantamirov have called a brutal police state.
“Putin has become a hostage to his own policy of radicalizing supporters so they can spring to action whenever he needs them,” said Alexander Baunov, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “His authoritarianism is sliding into decentralized terror. His backers think he’s much more radical than he really is and are acting without clear orders.”