Dagestani Authorities Crack Down on Banned Muslim Organization

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 17

Several Russian news agencies reported on April 30 that two people were wounded when police and interior ministry troops in Dagestan were involved in what RIA Novosti called “a friendly-fire shootout” the previous day. The news agency, quoting an anonymous law-enforcement source, reported that the shootout occurred as a result of “uncoordinated actions” in a forest near the village of Kakashura in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district. Yet, a spokesman for Dagestan’s Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti he had “no information” about such an incident. Interfax, for its part, reported that the shootout involved Nogaisky district police officers, on one side, and servicemen from a unit of the Russian Interior Ministry Internal Troops “carrying out special activities,” on the other. Interfax reported that a contract serviceman and a district patrol officer were wounded and hospitalized.

In March, four servicemen, including an attack helicopter gunner, were wounded while battling a group of 10-15 militants on the outskirts of Kakashura (North Caucasus Weekly, March 20).

Interfax reported on April 28 that Magomedkhabib Umakhanov, nephew of the head of the Khasavyurt municipality, Saigidpasha Umakhanov, was shot and killed when his car came under fire near the town’s market.

Interfax reported on April 27 that a serviceman was wounded when a bomb detonated as a convoy of trucks carrying interior ministry internal troops was moving along the Kavkaz federal highway in Khasavyurt district.

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reported on April 28 that a joint operation by the interior ministry and the Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) had “exposed” the activities of the Nurdzhular (Nurcular) religious organization, which was banned by Russia’s Supreme Court in April 2008.

A spokesman for the republican FSB told the news agency that police had “zeroed in” on meetings held in the Dagestani town of Izberbash by members of Nurdzhular, including nine Russian citizens, seven Azerbaijanis and Nurdzhular “coordinator” Erdemir Ali Ishan, a Turkish citizen. The FSB alleged that Ishan had held meetings of activists of the group in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Kazan and Krasnoyarsk.

“During the meetings, the activists were studying extremist literature and discussed further plans for the operation of the organization in Russia,” the FSB spokesman told Itar-Tass. He said that Nurdzhular members were found with financial documents indicating that $72,000 had been spent on “propaganda” in Dagestan and that police also found literature deemed extremist by a Moscow court in May 2007.

The FSB spokesman said that all the detained members of the group had been questioned and released except for the Azerbaijanis and Ishan, who remain in custody.