Policeman Killed in Dagestan

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 16

One policeman was killed and two were wounded in an operation to destroy a group of gunmen in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkent district on April 18, ITAR-Tass reported. The news agency quoted the chief physician of the hospital in the settlement of Karabudakhkent as saying that the body of the slain policeman was in the hospital and the two injured men were taken to Makhachkala for treatment. Police said earlier in the day that five to ten gunmen, some of them on the wanted list for terrorist crimes, were hiding in the woodland near the village of Gubden. The Associated Press on April 18 quoted Dagestan’s Interior Ministry as saying that a shootout erupted when police were seeking to capture or kill a group of what were believed to be more than five suspected militants hiding out in a wooded mountain area near Gubden, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Makhachkala. On April 5, gunmen shot and killed a police officer in charge of investigating economic crimes in Makhachkala (Chechnya Weekly, April 12).

On March 31, the separatist Kavkaz-Center website published a transcript provided by the “press service” of the Sharia Jamaat of what it said was an interview given to journalists from the North Caucasus service of Radio Liberty, who had asked for the interview. According to the transcript, the jamaat, which is an armed underground Islamist group based in Dagestan that has claimed responsibility for the murder of dozens of policemen in the republic, was asked about its origins. The person or persons responding for the Sharia Jamaat, who are not identified in the transcript, said the group is “an armed military subdivision of the Caucasus Front” and that “Gen.” Rabbani Khalilov is the “amir of the Dagestan brigade.” The group said the jamaat was set up in 1999 with the goal of “restoring an Islamic government on the territory of the Caucasus” and that it has given a “bayt” – oath of loyalty – to “the Amir of the Muslims of the Caucasus” – Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov. The Sharia Jamaat reiterated that it will target “members of the gangs referred to as ‘law-enforcement bodies,’ the FSB, MVD, prosecutor’s office and others,” as well as the “kaffirs-munafiqs” – unbelievers-hypocrites – from the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Caucasus and the “kaffirs” of the Russian Orthodox Church (Chechnya Weekly, January 12, 2006; November 10, 2005). It added that “in accordance with Islam, those who oppose the calling of Muslims can be killed, as can those who impede the laws given by Allah, those who help the enemy, by word or deed, financially or with arms.” The group said its main sources of funding are from donations from Muslims and from the “spoils of war.”

On April 11, the Dagestani government’s anti-terrorist commission held a meeting to discuss the role of the republic’s media in countering terrorist ideology, Kavkazky Uzel reported. Addressing the meeting, Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev called on the media to prepare more publications of an “anti-terrorist and anti-Wahhabi nature.” The chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Dagestan, Akhmed Tagaev, told the meeting that the republican media did not give enough attention to traditional Islam and complained that a film shot with the board’s support, entitled “Obyknovenny vakkabizm” (Ordinary Wahhabism), had been showed only on a cable channel in the republic but not on the republic’s state channels. Dagestan’s minister for national policy, information and external relations, Eduard Urazaev, told the meeting that his ministry is planning to issue a book entitled “Vakkabizm v voprosakh i otvetakh” (Wahhabism in questions and answers) that will explain the “negative aspects” of Wahhabism as well as a documentary film that will expose the activities of terrorists and extremists. According to Kavkazky Uzel, Urazaev said his ministry plans to propose that all publishers of religious or political materials, even those with small circulations, be required to register with the government.