Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 28

On July 12, the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that a well-known separatist field commander, Abu-Umar, a native of Saudi Arabia, had been “destroyed” in a special joint operation by the FSB and the MVD conducted in Mairtup, Shali District. At the time of his death, Abu-Umar was said to have been heading up a “a diversion group consisting of twenty rebels.” The online daily news service, however, reported that the actual circumstances of Abu-Umar’s death appeared to be murky. “The most recent mentioning of [Abu-Umar],” observed, “can be found in a video-cassette which Shamil’ Basaev sent to field commander Ruslan Gelaev. The cassette was made in February of this year and, a short time later, fell into the hands of the FSB; at the end of May, it was shown on ORT television by [Russian presidential spokesman] Sergei Yastrzhembsky. From the translation of the made by employees of the FSB it follows that Abu-Umar had been captured [by the Russian forces] and that Basaev was planning to exchange him for hostages…. It turns out that the Arab terrorist has been in the hands of the Russian power structures for already half a year. In that case, the question concerned not liquidation ‘during an attempt to offer resistance,’ but something else altogether” (, July 12).