The armed underground Islamist movement in Dagestan, the Sharia Jamaat, has claimed responsibility for the June 5 assassination of the republic’s Interior Minister, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov. The Sharia Jamaat posted a relatively short initial claim on its website on June 9, in which it said that a "special operations group" had killed the Dagestani Interior Minister, who it called "an evil enemy of Allah," a kafir (unbeliever), a murtad (apostate) and an enemy of Islam "guilty of murdering hundreds of Muslims and of torture and kidnappings" (www.jamaatshariat.com, June 9).
The Sharia Jamaat posted a longer claim of responsibility for the Magomedtagirov assassination on its website on June 11. This claim of responsibility was signed by Ibragim Gadzhidadaev, who described himself as the "emir of the Gimry Jamaat" in the "vilayat of Dagestan (Sharia Jamaat)." His statement was also posted on June 11 on the Kavkaz-Center website, which serves as the mouthpiece of the Caucasus Emirate, as the radical Islamist wing of the resistance in the North Caucasus now calls itself.
After the obligatory quotations from the Koran, Gadzhidadaev declares in his statement that on June 5, "for the purpose of trying to please the Almighty Allah and so that this would later become a gift to all Muslims, on that Friday holiday, we carried out a special operation to destroy the evil enemy of Allah, one of the ringleaders of infidelity in Dagestan, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov."
Gadzhidadaev goes on to accuse Magomedtagirov of torturing and murdering Muslims in Dagestan, and specifically cites the actions by republican security forces against Gimry, his home village. Gimry, the birthplace of the Imam Shamil, the legendary leader of the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian war of the 19th century, reportedly has been a stronghold of Salafist ideology in Dagestan and was the target of a large-scale security operation that began in December 2007 and lasted until August 2008. Gadzhidadaev’s statement accuses the Magomedtagirov of a variety of crimes during the course of the security operation in Gimry (www.jamaatshariat.com, www.kavkazcenter.com, June 11).
Meanwhile, the security situation in Dagestan continues to worsen. Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev told journalists in Makhachkala on June 11 that the number of policemen killed in attacks by militants in the republic is significantly higher this year compared with the same period last year. Aliev said that 22 law-enforcement officers had been killed so far this year, compared with eight during the same period last year.
On June 12, the day after Aliev made his comments, two militants and an OMON police commando were killed in a shootout in Makhachkala. The gun battle took place after security forces surrounded the militants’ car in the Dagestani capital. The militants were suspected of involvement in a series attacks on policemen, including the murder of an OMON commando in the village of Tyube on June 9 (EDM, June 10). Another policeman was shot and killed in Makhachkala on June 12. The victim of the attack by unidentified gunmen was a police officer from the Sovietsky district police department in the Dagestani capital (www.newsru.com, June 12).
On June 10, Federal Security Service (FSB) bomb disposal experts defused an explosive device that was discovered on a mountain pass on the Makhachkala-Buinaksk road. The device consisted of a metal box filled with ammonia saltpeter, aluminum powder and pieces of metal and had a remote control device attached to it (Interfax, June 11). On the evening of June 10, an explosion occurred in the city of Khasavyurt as a police canine unit was inspecting a sidewalk. One of the policemen was slightly injured in the blast. On the morning of June 10, members of the police department in Dagestan’s Karamakhinsky district repulsed a rebel attack. No one was hurt in the incident (Kavkazsky Uzel, June 12).
There have also been fresh attacks in other republics of the North Caucasus over the past several days. Militants armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers attacked two cars carrying federal Interior Ministry servicemen from the Russian city of Kemerovo near the Chechen town of Bamut on the evening of June 11, wounding four. On the evening of June 9, militants in Chechnya’s Sunzha district attacked a column of Interior Ministry vehicles, and two servicemen were injured when one of the vehicles went out of control and crashed into a tree (Kavkazsky Uzel, June 12). On June 10, the deputy chairperson of Ingushetia’s Supreme Court, Aza Gazgereyeva, was shot to death in the center of Nazran (EDM, June 10). On June 9, unidentified attackers fired from a grenade launcher on a group of military bomb disposal experts on the Kavkaz federal highway in Ingushetia near the village of Gamurdievo. One serviceman was wounded in the attack (Interfax, June 9).
In what may be a sign of Moscow’s growing alarm over the security situation in the North Caucasus in general and particularly in Dagestan, Anatoly Safonov, the Russian presidential envoy for the issues of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime, told reporters in Moscow on June 11 he was concerned terrorists from Iraq could end up coming to the region. Noting that Iraq has become kind of a school for terrorists, Safonov said: "Just imagine how many ‘graduates’ this school may have … We are not immune from their return. Naturally, they will try to come here, to the Caucasus, to Dagestan" (Interfax, June 11).