Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 145

Akhmad Kadyrov, Chechnya’s mufti and the head of the republic’s pro-Moscow provisional administration, announced yesterday that he had banned the Wahhabi movement in the republic. An anonymous official of his administration was quoted as saying that Kadyrov met on July 24 with local administrative heads and religious leaders to discuss the ban on the Islamic fundamentalist movement (AP, July 25). At the same time, the members of the Security Council, the powerful Kremlin advisory body, met yesterday to discuss ways of combating Wahhabism and Islamic extremism in general. Just before the meeting, Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said that Russia had paid a high price for “underestimating” the threat of Islamic extremism. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo told the meeting that up to eighty organizations which can be “considered” Wahhabi-ite are operating on Russian territory (Vremya novosti, July 26).

Wahhabi Islam is the official brand of Islam in Saudi Arabia, and the Russian authorities have tended to lump all Islamic fundamentalists under the “Wahhabi” tag. The authorities also view the Wahhabis as the source of international assistance for radical Islamic terrorism in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia. Indeed, Khattab, one of the most radical rebel field commanders in Chechnya, is reportedly either from Saudi Arabia or Jordan. The Russian military reported July 22 that an Arab mercenary who was serving as a deputy to Khattab was captured in the Vedeno region. Khattab denied the claim (Russian agencies, July 22). Khattab and fellow field commander Shamil Basaev reportedly led last year’s incursion into Dagestan. Following that attack, which triggered the current war in Chechnya, the Dagestani authorities banned Wahhabism (Vremya novosti, July 26).