Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria, also referred to as ISIS, released a video filled with threats against Russia, responding to President Vladimir Putin’s promise to provide aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the video, jihadists vow to liberate Chechnya and Russia’s North Caucasus.
“We will, with the consent of Allah, free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus!” said the fighter. “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!”
The Islamic State allegedly shot the video at an airport in Raqqa after they seized control from the Syrian Army. A Russian speaker describes the jets and military equipment to the IS fighters. He confirms it all came from Russia.
“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!”
The Islamic State jihadists’ claim that Chechnya needs to be “liberated” from Putin ignores the close ties government officials there have with Moscow. A pro-Russian government was installed in Chechnya during the Second Chechen War in 2003. In 2007, Ramzan Kadyrov–Putin’s close friend with whom he even shares friendships with some of Hollywood’s powerful stars–was elected as head of state. He responded to the Islamic State video on Instagram with a picture of himself in a Putin T-shirt.
“These jerks have nothing to do with Islam,” he said. “They are the blatant enemies of Muslims all over the world. Naive people decided to threaten Chechnya and all of Russia with two aircraft. They can sit in 2,000 aircraft and still not make it to Russia.” He then asserted, “I declare, with all responsibility, that whoever gets it into their heads to threaten Russia and speak the name of President Vladimir Putin will be destroyed as soon as he says it,” adding, “We won’t even wait for him to sit at the helm of a plane.”
But other regions in the North Caucasus region do not feel the same way. Radical Islamist fighters from these areas, especially Dagestan, were responsible for suicide attacks in Volgograd, Russia, months before Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. In March, the North Caucasus varied from 200 to 1,700. In December 2013, IS leader Abu Umar al-Shishani said then-Chechen militant leader Dokka Umarov financed the terrorist group. The militants confirmed Umarov died on September 7, 2013.