KHATTAB: DEAD OR ALIVE? “
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 14
Where is Khattab’s head?” the publication Mir Novostei recently asked insistently. “Judging by public opinion polls,” the publication went on, “less than a third of Russians believe in the death of Khattab. The majority consider that this was a cunning trick of the Arab mercenary, who simply had in time concealed himself beyond the borders of Chechnya.” “True,” Mir Novostei continued, “in the FSB they maintain that this time the Black Arab will ‘not come back to life.’ He was supposedly killed in March of this year as a result of a special operation. According to some sources, one of his countrymen, who had been recruited by the [Russian] special services, killed the Black Arab…. He was fighting as a mercenary in Khattab’s detachment and was even one of those closest to Khattab. This permitted him at night to cut off the head of the sleepy terrorist. He then hid it in a secluded place. But the headless body of the Black Arab is now in the possession of the federal troops. A lengthy autopsy supposedly confirmed his identity without the head–it was definitely Khattab” (Cited in SMI.ru, May 8). This version contradicted other widely reported information first disseminated by the Islamic extremist website Kavkaz.org, that “a fast-acting poison hidden in a letter” had been the instrument used to kill Khattab, who therefore had not been posthumously deprived of his head (Los Angeles Times, May 2). Meanwhile, according to a report appearing in the Prague Watchdog of May 5, “field commander Khattab has been buried in Saudi Arabia, Khattab’s older brother Mansur told the London-based Arab daily ‘Al-Hayat’.” It wasn’t stipulated in this report whether the head or the body, or perhaps both, had been buried, if, that is, a burial had taken place at all.