Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 4

On January 21, just four days after Nikolai Gryaznov, head of the FSB directorate in Dagestan announced that the body of Rasul Makasharipov, a.k.a. “Muslim,” was among the remains of five militants found in the ruins of a house on the outskirts of Makhachkala following a nearly day-long shoot-out with security forces, the Chechen separatist Kavkazcenter website published a statement from him. “The rumors of my death are exaggerated,” Makasharipov declared.

“Praise be to Allah, I am in good health and until the end of my life, which was granted to me by Allah and which no-one can measure, I will do everything so that those who are leading the regime of infidels and tyranny in Dagestan or assisting it in any way face bitter disappointment, fear and death,” read the statement by Makasharipov, who identified himself as the “Amir of the Islamic Jamaat ‘Sharia’.” He confirmed that five “mujahideen brothers” from the group had been “martyred in the fight with the Russian occupying troops and their henchmen, the Dagestani collaborators, on 17 January.” The gun battle between security forces and the militants, who took up positions in the basement of the house in which they were holed up, lasted more than 15 hours, and the besieged rebels were ultimately suppressed only after a tank razed the house (see Chechnya Weekly, January 19).

On January 23, a Dagestani Interior Ministry source told Itar-Tass that the security forces had found and destroyed a winter base for militants in Dagestan’s Kazbek district near the border with Chechnya. The source said the base had an observer position and reserves of food and medicine, and that an arms cache was found nearby. On January 18, the bodies of two Dagestani police officers were found in a wooded mountainous area near the Kazbek district village of Kalinin-Aul, RIA Novosti reported. The two men, a squad commander and a deputy platoon commander, had been shot while guarding the administrative border between Dagestan and Chechnya and their Kalashnikov assault rifles were stolen, an Interior Ministry source told the news agency.