Formation of Khasavyurt Jammat Reflects Influx of New Funds and Recruits

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 10

(Source: Vestnik Kavkaza)

Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district has a long border with Chechnya. Moreover, a significant number of ethnic Chechens ended up in Dagestan after their territory was handed over to Dagestan in 1922 (http://megabook.ru/article/%D0%90%D0%9A%D0%9A%D0%98%D0%9D%D0%A6%D0%AB). After the influx of Chechen refugees during the first Russian-Chechen war, the overall number of Chechens in Dagestan totaled approximately 100,000 persons (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/177132/).

The Khasavyurt jamaat was the most active of the Dagestani jamaats in 2013. The point of tension basically shifted from central and southern Dagestan to the border with Chechnya in the second half of last year. Militant attacks or law enforcement operations in the Khasavyurt area occur almost every week (http://antivahhab.com/?p=news&rid=3).

It should be noted that the media reports only information that the law enforcement agencies cannot conceal from the general public. For example, on January 2, law enforcement agents killed two suspected militants in an apartment on Vorobyova Street in the city of Khasavyurt. The two suspects, Marat Shikhshaidov and his wife Aisha Idigova, were surrounded by police in the apartment. According to insurgent sources, the latter was also known as Aisha Igidova (http://vdagestan.com/boj-v-xasavyurte-shaxidami-inshaallax-stali-muzh-i-zhena.djihad). Following negotiations that involved close relatives of the suspects and lasted all night, a two-year-old boy was evacuated from the apartment, but Aisha Idigova refused to leave. Since she did not agree to leave her husband, she was also assumed to be an insurgent, hence the news reports stating that “two militants” were killed (http://antivahhab.com/?p=news&id=555).

Government forces try to conceal their activities whenever they can. This allows them to reduce the number of casualties in their reports and improve the image of the republic in Moscow’s eyes. For example, when a counter-terrorist operation regime is introduced, but there is no armed resistance and no suspects are found, it is not reported in the media (http://dagestan.kavkaz-uzel.ru/forum/topics/2906).

On the morning of January 15, the Dagestani branches of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Ministry of Interior conducted a special operation in the village of Karlanyurt, a suburb of Khasavyurt. Government forces reportedly suffered serious losses during the operation (http://sevkavportal.ru/news/pub/proishestviya/item/12595-v-spetsoperatsii-v-dagest.html). The Interfax news agency reported that three law enforcement agents were killed and five wounded. “All the slain men served in the Special Police Unit,” a source in the law enforcement agencies reported. “One of the five wounded people is in critical condition. Doctors are trying to save his life” (http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/236662/).

The government forces suffered losses when the militants who were surrounded in the house tried to break out. According to law enforcement agencies, four militants were killed. Two of them were identified as Ruslan Dagirov and Marat Idrisov. The latter was said to have participated in the recent terrorist attack in Pyatigorsk, in which the office of the Road Police department was attacked (http://vdagestan.com/v-karlanyurte-idyot-krupnoe-boestolknovenie-kafiry-poteryali-ubitymi-i-ranenymi-okolo-10-chelovek.djihad). The Russian National Antiterrorist Committee (NAK) reported that Idrisov “was among the organizers” of the bomb attack in Pyatigorsk on December 27, in which the office of the Road Police department was attacked. The NAK must have forgotten that they had earlier announced the arrest of all six people involved in that attack. Also prior to his killing, officials did not mention Marat Idrisov among the suspects (http://www.ntv.ru/novosti/829324/).

Over time, the NAK developed a whole story about Idrisov, stating that Idrisov went into hiding in January 2013, having joined a criminal group that operates in this area of Dagestan and later became its leader. Idrisov was on the federal wanted list since November 2013. Apart from the attack in Pyatigorsk, he is also accused of various attacks on Khasavyurt district law enforcement agents, religious and public figures. In particular, in December 2012, the suspect shot dead the imam the local mosque in the village of Endirei. In November 2013, he fired shots at the car of a teacher in a madrasah in the same village. In December 2013, he attempted to kill a group of police officers who were sitting in their car (www.rosbalt.ru/federal/2014/01/15/1221131.html). So, according to the NAK, young man openly joined the insurgents in January and within several months had become their leader. This official story does not seem plausible and must have been hastily invented by the Russian security services.

This jamaat, in fact, is referred to by the Caucasus Emirate as the Northern sector of the vilayat of Dagestan, which includes the republic’s Khasavyurt, Kizlyar, Kazbek and Babayurt districts. Amir Seifullah is the Northern sector’s leader. The earlier division of the resistance into jamaats rather than sectors is still quite widespread among the insurgents. Khasavyurt district is a home to several jamaats, including the Aukhov (Chechen), Khasav (made up of those who reside in the city of Khasvyurt), Kostek, and Kizlyar jamaats. Within these jamaats, few insurgents can progress from neophyte to leadership positions in a matter of months. The novices normally undergo security checks for the first several months, during which they do not have access to the leaders of the jamaat. The jamaats themselves are subdivided into cells and so, initially, the newcomer deals only with the people in his own cell.

Thus, the authorities’ actions indicate that the Khasavyurt jamaat has become more active. The strengthening of the jamaat may have happened due to the influx of new members and funds needed for buying and building improvised explosive devices (IED), as well as the increased support among the general population. Therefore, it is quite likely there will soon be fresh reports of actions by this jamaat, and by the law enforcement agencies’ actions against it.