Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 2

On January 10, the day after it published its interview with Shamil Basaev, Kavkazcenter posted an interview with the man who it said led the October 13 raid in Nalchik—Anzor Astemirov (a.k.a. Emir Seifulla) head of the Kabardino-Balkarian sector of the Caucasian Front. Echoing Basaev, Astemirov said that despite “heavy losses,” the Nalchik raid was a strategic success. “We achieved the main thing—we accomplished the first step on the path of the jihad,” he said. “Our dead are in paradise, whereas their dead are in hell.” Astemirov compared the operation to the Koran’s Battle of Uhud, in which the Prophet Muhammad took part and in which the Muslims were defeated. “We had too strong a desire to square accounts with the infidels and hypocrites for the outrages they had inflicted on us Muslims, and too much self-confidence,” he said. “Although we had sufficient forces to achieve and consolidate success in this operation, not everything turned out as we would have liked.”

Asked about the “jihad” in Kabardino-Balkaria, Astemirov answered: “If in Chechnya the jihad has been going on for years, in other parts of the Caucasus it is only just beginning. If before we thought it would be enough to go to Chechnya and help our brothers there in their fight against infidels, we don’t think this is enough now. That is why the whole of the North Caucasus, God willing, has become a combat zone and a territory for jihad.” The Muslims of Kabardino-Balkaria support the rebels and help them “in every way,” Astemirov claimed. “A striking example of the support by the population is the fact that the infidels and hypocrites were unable to find out about the preparations for this operation, which we prepared for many months,” he said. “Only just before the very start of the operation was there a leak—but, again, not from the population.”

Astemirov also dismissed anti-Wahhabi declarations made by residents of Kabardino-Balkaria at the urging of local authorities (Chechnya Weekly, November 10 and 17, 2005). “And as for ‘gatherings of people’ taking decisions, this is an outdated way of intimidating Muslims, which the infidels used in Dagestan in 1999,” he told Kavkazcenter. “It is also a way for the hypocrites to hide their fear of us and at the same time gain dividends at the price of treachery. Their ‘decisions’ don’t particularly concern us.”