Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 18

Multiple Attacks Take Place in Ingushetia…

A “participant in illegal armed formations” was killed in Ingushetia on May 8, Interfax reported. The news agency quoted a source in the headquarters of the Temporary Group of Forces as saying the suspected rebel, who was hiding in a private house in the village of Kantyshevo near Nazran, was killed by spetsnaz commandos when he resisted capture during a special operation. According to Itar-Tass, a pistol and grenades were found at the scene. The news agency identified the dead gunman as Isa Arsaev, 23, who, it said, “was a member of the gang involved in several sabotage and terrorist acts, including shootouts and murders of law enforcers.” According to Itar-Tass, Arsaev’s “gang” was “planning to commit several sabotage and terrorist acts in Ingushetia during the celebrations on Victory Day.” Victory Day is celebrated in Russia on May 9. On May 7, a car belonging to an employee of the Federal Security Service (FSB) branch in Ingushetia, Ibragim Tsaroev, was bombed in Nazran. The car was damaged but no one was hurt in the attack, Itar-Tass reported. On May 6, unidentified attackers fired on car in which an officer of the Ingush branch of the Federal Narcotics Control Service (FSKN), Col. Azid Galaev, was traveling. He was not hurt, but a woman traveling in a car nearby was wounded. On May 5, gunmen twice fired on units of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops in Ingushetia, wounding one serviceman. In one of the incidents, the attackers fired on a unit that was carrying out a reconnaissance mission on the Nazran-Kantyshevo road. On May 5, unknown gunmen fired on a group of servicemen in Nazran, wounding one of them, reported. The opposition website reported that the incident was not officially recorded because the republic’s Interior Ministry has been ordered not to register such attacks.

…As Police Raid a Nazran Mosque

Kavkazky Uzel reported on May 5 that parishioners of a mosque in Nazran’s Plievsky municipal district were detained that day by unidentified gunmen. “As we were finishing post-midday prayers, 6-7 armed people in masks burst into the mosque, not identifying themselves and not explaining anything, and screamed: ‘Whose cars are parked outside?’ They literally interrupted our prayer and detained three of the cars’ owners – me, Plievsky municipal district resident Yusuf Pliev and Malgobek resident Murad Albakov – without explanation,” one of those detained, Gardanov Khamzat, told the website. The raiders presented no IDs. “These armed people without any respect for a place of worship walked in the mosques with dirty shoes,” he said. “The most interesting thing is that they, as it turned out, were employees of local law-enforcement organs, which became clear from their conversations and the place where they took the three detainees – the Nazran police department [GOVD]. That is, they are Ingush – they must be Muslims – who all the same displayed disrespect for a place of prayer.” According to eyewitnesses, the raid was carried out by 15-20 law-enforcers who arrived at the mosque in several vehicles without license plates and detained the three car-owners. The detainees were released and their cars were returned to them by the following day. According to Kavkazky Uzel, parishioners of the mosque and the mosque itself have since 1999 been under pressure from authorities, who have accused it of spreading “Wahhabism” and tried to close it.

Chechnya’s Mufti Discusses Islamic Television, the Hajj and Bride Abductions

Itar-Tass, quoting the press service of Chechnya’s president and government reported on May 6 that Chechen authorities plan to open an “independent Islamic television channel.” According to the news agency, the issue was discussed during a session of the Council of Ulemas of the Chechen Republic under the chairmanship of the republic’s mufti, Sultan Mirzaev. Participants in the meeting said that a television channel devoted to Islamic themes “would promote the spiritual development of society.” The press service noted that at a recent event celebrating the Day of the Chechen Language, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that by “propagandizing spiritual-moral values, traditions and, correspondingly, the Chechen language, we will be able to preserve the culture and customs of our people.” During the same Council of Ulemas session, the issue of Chechen pilgrims traveling to this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia was discussed. Mirzaev said that more than 5,000 pilgrims will go this year, up from more than 3,000 last year, and that they will be led by fluent Arab-speaking officials from the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Chechnya. Meanwhile, RIA Novosti on May 6 quoted Mirzaev as saying that religious leaders in Chechnya plan to eradicate the century-old tradition of bride abductions. “Abductions of brides contradict the norms of Sharia law and the traditions and customs of the Chechen people,” Mirzaev said, adding that the tradition should be abolished