Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 28

An expert with the Russian Academy of Sciences, Igor Dobaev, stated in a report that as many as 70 terrorist attacks took place in Dagestan during the first half of this year, more than 40 of them in Makhachkala, Interfax reported on July 17. “Every second terrorist attack staged over the period of time in question was perpetrated through planting and detonating explosive devices, every fourth [attack] involved automatic weapons and grenade launchers, while other instances involved cars packed with explosives,” the report said. “More than half of the aforementioned number of terrorist attacks were aimed against high-ranking officials, one-third of attacks targeted deputies of various levels and law enforcement officials, while some other attacks were staged against servicemen and their family members. Methods of ‘untargeted terrorism’ have become quite popular among terrorists, who commit their destructive actions in public places where primarily civilians are concentrated.”

According to Dobaev, 30 terrorist attacks were carried out in Dagestan in 2004, killing 16 people and injuring 39. Eighteen of the attacks took place in Makhachkala while six occurred in Khasavyurt, Dagestan’s second-largest city. Other attacks took place along highways or targeted the Mozdok-Kazimagomed gas pipeline.

On July 17, two police officers were injured when their vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device in the Dagestani capital. On July 14, a bomb blast slightly damaged a traffic police car in Makhachkala, but no one was injured. On July 19, an unknown attacker doused a car belonging to the office of Akhmed Chililov, director of the Dagestannovatsia bank with flammable liquid and ignited it. No one was in the car at the time. Chililov is also the founder of the Novoe delo newspaper, for which the slain political scientist Zagid Varisov was a columnist. Varisov was assassinated on June 28. The Sharia Jamaat claimed responsibility for the murder, but some observers suggested it may have been connected to his criticism of the Dagestani authorities (see Chechnya Weekly, July 7).

Meanwhile, the Kavkazcenter website on July 15 posted the latest communication from the Sharia Jamaat. In it, the Islamist group announced that one of its commanders, identified as Emir Seifulla, had been killed in a gun battle with Russian spetsnaz in Makhachkala on July 13. The group denied press reports that he used a child as a human shield during the shootout, calling this a “vile lie.” On July 14, the Dagestani Interior Ministry identified the dead Sharia Jamaat commander as Aslan Shaykhaev, “the so-called emir” of the group’s Buinaksk zone, who was wanted for the May 24 of Magomedkhan Gitinov, a senior investigator for the Interior Ministry branch in Buinaksk. Interfax quoted a Dagestani Interior Ministry source as saying that Shaykhaev was the brother of Shamil Kulinsky, who succeeded Rasul Makasharipov as the Sharia Jamaat’s emir after the latter was killed (see Chechnya Weekly, July 14).