Sheikh Abu Omar Muhammad al-Sayf on www.Qoqaznews.com

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 9

On May 2 a posting on an Arabic language forum [http://alsaha.fares.net] and a jihadi forum [www.alsakifah.org] featured a commentary by the Chechen ideological leader Sheikh Abu Omar Muhammad al-Sayf in which he discusses a number of issues, including the killing of the Chechen mujahid leader Omar Ibn al-Khattab who was killed in 2002, reportedly from poisoning. Sheikh Omar al-Sayf belittles the impact his death made on morale saying that “your mujahidin brethren in Chechnya have demonstrated to the Russians and indeed the whole world that the killing of the jihad leadership does not fragment their powers.” On the contrary, “the land is rich in leaders and [fighting] units who are at this moment making the Russians taste the bitterness of defeats that follow one after the other … We ask Almighty God that He cause the worn out Russian Bear to fall and grant the field to the nation of Monotheism.”

Of greater concern to Sheikh Omar al-Sayf is the level of misinformation circulating around the jihad in Chechnya. In a formal declaration the Sheikh informs “my Muslim brethren that the al-Qoqaz news website www.qoqaznews.com has no connection with the mujahidin in Chechnya and its strange news and proposals do not represent them or have anything to do with them whatsoever … We advise you that our website www.qoqaz.com, long known to you, is now out of action and not functioning” [http://alsaha.fares.net].

Chechen mujahidin have been wary of web infiltration for some time. Last November Terrorism Focus (Volume 1, Issue 9 ‘Forum Warnings of a Spy Website’) featured a posting from a jihadist website warning readers of a possible Qoqaz website “owned by the CIA, in co-operation and arrangement with British Security” which is attempting to penetrate Islamic sites “as a measure designed to obfuscate news of the jihad and the mujahidin,” and warned readers “not to fall prey to espionage on behalf of the Enemy.” Readers were urged to be wary of “agents of the Crusaders, atheists and Jews on the internet” [www.alm2sda.net].

The misinformation referred to by Sheikh Omar al-Sayf is interpreted by the forum participant as a misinformation exercise, one that is “exploiting the rupture in communications that followed the American and Russian alliance against the Chechen mujahidin, aimed at putting an end to their jihad and cutting off supplies to them.” The infiltration is causing embarrassment. “Perhaps in the near future” Sheikh al-Sayf hopes, “it will return to its former state, God willing, and you will find on it full and detailed responses.”