Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyroz says Doku Umarov is dead, but he did not offer proof and other officials could not verify it.
Mr Kadyrov has based his claim on an intercepted phone call alleged to have taken place between two rebel leaders who spoke about the need to replace Umarov because he was dead.
“I said before that he is no longer alive, and now we’ve received a recording of so-called emirs, where they speak of his death,” Mr Kadyrov wrote. “They won’t reach the Olympics. So all this talk about threats to the Sochi Olympics are absolutely groundless.”
This is not the first time Kadyrov made these claims, but now websites claim the same thing.
This time, however, multiple messages on Chechen jihadist web forums – including an audio recording from top Islamic sharia judge Abu Mohammed Ali Daghestani, who is affiliated with Umarov’s movement, confirmed his death.
Messages posted on Chechen militant blog sites suggested he was killed in an operation by Russian special forces, but none gave a time or specific place for the alleged killing.
Security is a major issue at the Olympics because of four separate terrorist attacks. Three occurred in Volgograd, a major transportation hub between Moscow and southern Russia. Another attack was in Stavropol, which is where many terrorists from the North Caucasus pass through on their way to Russia.
In July, Umarov released a tape where he called on his followers to make the Olympics their prime target. He said it was in retaliation for Russia slaughtering Muslims when they conquered the Caucasus region in the 19th century and he called the Olympics satanic.