Rebels in Ingushetia Step Up Activities Despite Blows to Leadership

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 23

Emir Daud (Source: kavkazcenter.com)

Events in Ingushetia signal a possible increase in tensions in this North Caucasus republic after a nearly two year period of decline in militant activities.  The decline in Ingush rebel activities was linked to the arrest of their leader Magas (aka Taziev-Yevloev) in June 2010 (www.gazeta.ru/column/latynina/3383893.shtml). Although Magas was in fact arrested in January-February 2010, his arrest was officially announced only on June 9, 2010. In September 2010, his successor, Emir Adam, was apprehended. According to the Federal Security Service (FSB), Adam was the nom de guerre of Isa Khashegulgov (www.lenta.ru/news/2010/09/27/head/).  The Ingush jamaat, in contrast to other jamaats in the North Caucasus, was built on the principle of direct communication between the emir and units in different towns, so there was no district or frontal echelon of command. Thus the emir’s arrest disrupted the organization of the local jamaat in Ingushetia – something that has not been observed elsewhere in the North Caucasus. If the emir of the Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria or Chechnya jamaat dies, the jamaats there continue functioning without an emir. In the absence of an emir, they are coordinated via the district command level; in the Chechen case, the front level command does the coordination. In the case of Ingushetia, the loss of the emir means the local cells in the towns cannot coordinate due to security and other concerns.

Nor should it be discounted that the arrest of the Ingush jamaat’s leaders and the killing of the main ideologue of the armed resistance, Said Buryatsky (aka Aleksandr Tikhomirov), on March 5, 2010, may have been caused by FSB moles inside the jamaat’s structures. That is why the Ingush jamaat continues to operate only at the level of multiple, scattered cells that do not try to establish links between each other. This will continue until the jamaat’s leaders finish their internal assessments determining which FSB agents within their structures may have revealed the identity of the jamaat’s leaders.

Against the background of confusion inside the Ingush jamaat, the policy of Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov on the issue is dubious. Umarov does not appear to have taken any steps to revive the Ingush jamaat in the two years since it lost its leaders. Although a case could be made that Umarov himself assumed direct management of this jamaat or, to be precise, certain structures of the jamaat, before the full circumstances of Magas’ arrest came to light.

Russian press reports about the elimination of the military emir of the Caucasus Emirate, Jamaleil Mutalibov, were incorrect, to put it mildly. Mutalibov was killed in the village of Ekazhevo near Ingushetia’s main city Nazran during a police operation on January 27. While it is a fact that Mutalibov was killed (http://rukavkaz.ru/articles/news/979/), it should be emphasized that he never was a military emir – i.e., military leader – of the North Caucasian rebels. If the security services indeed killed the leader of Ingushetia’s Sharia Jamaat, known as Emir Daud, on January 27, then why does Isa Khashegulgov, who was accused of being Emir Daud, remain in the FSB’s Lefortovo prison in Moscow, where he has been held since September 2010? Many people in Ingushetia believe that Khashegulgov’s arrest was a professional blunder by the Russian security services. According to residents of the republic, Khashegulgov, along with his brothers, was involved in business activities and could not have been a rebel leader (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/22723.html).

Tiny Ingushetia seems to have an excessive number of emirs. The position of the military emir of the armed North Caucasian resistance is not inherited. The fact that Emir Magas was also the military emir of all the North Caucasian jamaats does not mean that his successor would automatically also assume that position. The role and authority of Emir Magas were such that he was the most likely candidate among the possible successors to Doku Umarov. Regarding Emir Adam, few people knew about him before his death. The FSB obviously deliberately misinforms society, pursuing self-serving interests. Even the death of Shamil Basaev as a result of an accidental missile explosion on July 10, 2006, which also occurred in Ekazhevo, was later hailed as a successful operation by the FSB. In fact, the security services learned about Basaev’s death accidentally from rebel radio transmissions (www.gazeta.ru/2006/07/10/oa_207494.shtml). This explains why the Russian authorities invariably try to present the death of any more or less known militant as the death of the “emir” of all other emirs, because this allows the participants in special operations to receive government awards and promotions. But this results in all militants being “emirs,” with almost no ordinary militants, which is absurd.

The low number of casualties from militant attacks in Ingushetia in comparison to Chechnya and Kabardino-Balkaria in 2011 was not surprising precisely because the republic’s insurgents had lost their leaders. According to the Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot) website, there were 108 casualties in the republic – 70 dead and 38 injured in the past year. The contrast is especially stark if the results of 2011 for Ingushetia are compared to 2010. According to the law enforcement agencies, there was a three-fold decline in this period from 326 casualties in 2010, when there were 27 bomb attacks and two suicide attacks in Ingushetia. In 2011, 40 insurgents were killed and 23 people involved in the armed underground were detained (http://www.inginfo.ru/news/933).

Clearly there was a decline in the activities of the insurgency in Ingushetia. This, however, should not be credited to the current leadership of Ingushetia, headed by Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. Rather, it was caused entirely by the capture of Emir Magas in 2010. In fact, at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, rebel activities in Ingushetia appeared to be on the rise, which probably means that the Ingush jamaat’s stagnation, connected to the loss of its leaders, has come to an end. In any case, the first months of 2012 will indicate whether the Ingush jamaat is capable of reclaiming the positions it lost in 2011.