Insurgents in Ingushetia Regroup as Local Jammats Become More Nationalist

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 11 Issue: 9

Since the beginning of fall 2010 a tide of kidnappings of young people accused of participating in the armed underground has swept Ingushetia. On October 22, three young Ingush were arrested in three different places of this troubled republic in Russia’s North Caucasus region. On October 27, in the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russian police officers abducted Umar Dzaurov, a 23-year-old resident of Ingushetia. That same day, a hundred kilometers away from another Russian city, Voronezh, 25-year-old Khizir Daurbekov was apprehended at the Bobrovka police checkpoint ( On October 29, Zurab Tsoloev, a 25-year-old Ingush man, was kidnapped, but that same day, Russian siloviki were unable to seize another Ingush man, Ibragim Belkhoroev, because his relatives strongly resisted them (

This is an incomplete list of ethnic Ingush youth kidnapped on the orders of Russian authorities during the last week of October. A series of arrests and abductions of young people by the siloviki, followed by an almost invariable lack of information on their whereabouts, especially immediately after their seizure, generates hatred toward the authorities. Residents of Ingushetia view the siloviki in their republic as a threat to their families. Given that, it is not surprising that under the current circumstances the authorities in Ingushetia exist separately from the people. As if appointed from the outside, the government works not for the benefit of the Ingush who live in the republic, but for the benefit of Moscow, which sees a threat in every young man who does not share the established view of Islam controlled and directed by the authorities in the region. Against the background of the arrest of the leader of the Ingush Jamaat, Emir Magas, the government is apparently trying to do away with the Ingush Jamaat once and for all. But as has been pointed out by this author on numerous occasions, the system of the jamaat is constructed in such a way as to not allow a situation in which the entire structure is hit. This means that the jamaat’s functioning mechanism is unlikely to be broken.

It should be noted that with the arrest of Emir Magas (aka Akhmed Yevloev or Ali Taziev), who is now locked up in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison (, strikes against the siloviki in Ingushetia have in fact become less lethal. But this could well be a temporary setback since the new rebel leader, Emir Adam, was appointed not long ago and apparently needs time to establish contact with all the local jamaat units that earlier were tied together by just one man – i.e., Magas.

Meanwhile, the Russian security services are bent on destroying the Ingush insurgency. Toward that goal Isa Khashegulgov was arrested on October 12 as his detention remains cloudy (——–l-r). The Russian authorities have adamantly tried to portray him in the press as Emir Adam, the successor to Emir Magas. Whether it is true or not is difficult to prove, given the fact that the jamaat structures have neither rejected nor confirmed that information. Khashegulgov lived in his village without hiding, which is confirmed by the testimony of his fellow villagers as well as by the people with whom he had had business over the past few years. According to them, he bore no resemblance to a man who would fight in the ranks of the jamaat (, let alone become the leader of the jamaat. The only “proof” the investigation has with which to implicate Khashegulgov is his excessive, as it seems to them, commitment to Islam. This means that the arrested man simply caused suspicion by showing himself not as a usual inhabitant of Ingushetia, or a murid, but as a person who held Salafist views. Russian prosecutors brought charges against Khashegulgov on two counts –for organizing an illegal armed formation, under Article 208 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and for illegally keeping firearms, under Article 222. According to Musa Pliev, Khashegulgov’s lawyer, Khashegulgov was not charged with organizing a terrorist act, although his arrest had been presented all over the Russian media as that of the orchestrator of and participant in the deadly bombing at a marketplace in the city of Vladikavkaz on September 9 (  

Thus, it remains unclear who Emir Adam is and whether or not he really is Isa Khashegulgov. If Emir Adam of the Ingush Jamaat and Khashegulgov are two names for the same person, then this will already be the second arrest of the rebel leader in the past six months and a serious loss for the Ingush insurgents. As has been noted before in EDM, every arrest or death of a leader leaves a vacuum in the jammat, and time is needed to reestablish all contacts at the level of the local branches of the group.

Another noticeable feature of the Ingush Jamaat has been its noticeable shift toward nationalism. Information agencies representing the interests of the Ingush Jamaat on the Internet, such as Khunafa, Abror and others, have published quite a few statements that are little different from the appeals and demands voiced by a majority of the Ingush population ( In its public statements, the Ingush Jamaat emphasizes issues that are hardly characteristic of the radicals, whose primary focus is the unity of all Muslims. The Ingush Jamaat calls on the Ingush people to not forget the crimes committed against them and, by invoking nationalistic sentiments, tries to downplay the differences and uneasy relationship with those who adhere to the views of the murids of the Sufi brotherhoods. This indicates that the Ingush Jamaat is seeking some sort of rapprochement with the local population in Ingushetia. Websites controlled by the jamaat often feature appeals and statements by its press service on behalf of the commanders of the Ingush Front. In them, the rebel commanders speak about their successes and at the same time warn those who are collaborating with the Russian authorities and betraying jamaat members ( This kind of educational work with the population is often done at a more advanced level than that carried out by the authorities on their own official websites.

In conclusion, it can be assumed that the significant drop in the Ingush Jamaat’s level of activity appears to be a result of the reorganization that followed the arrest of its leader. Only time will tell how prudent the strategy of the Russian intelligence agencies was in implanting their spies inside the rebel networks, which allowed them to not kill a rebel leader, as had usually been done in the past, but to capture alive the leader of the Ingush Jamaat, one of the most active jamaats in the North Caucasus.