Rebels in Ingushetia Target Police Under New Jammat Leadership

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 15 Issue: 6

On the night of March 11, police officer Batyr Belkharoev was shot while he was driving his car near the village of Sagopshi in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district ( He died on the spot, while a relative traveling with him, Magomed Belkharoev, was wounded and taken to the hospital. Ingushetia’s media reported that the incident took place in the city of Malgobek (, which is north of the village of Sagopshi.
The story did not end there, however. The police in Ingushetia imposed a special emergency situation to intercept the attacks. Several hours after the incident, traffic police officers attempted to stop a suspicious car at a checkpoint near the village of Zyazikov-Yurt. Police fired at the car when it sped up instead of stopping. The republican interior minister said police fired shots in the air, but that one of the bullets ricocheted off and hit the car, after which the car stopped. It was discovered that a resident of the city of Karabulak and three off-duty police officers were in the vehicle. One of the off-duty police officers in the car was hit by the gunfire from his fellow law enforcement officers and killed (
Few residents of Ingushetia stop their cars when armed individuals try to stop them while they are driving at night, even if those attempting to stop them are dressed in police uniforms. The incident near Zyazikov-Yurt shows the difficult psychological conditions under which the local police operate. Neither the people in the car nor the police officers at the checkpoint could be sure that the other party was not a group of insurgents in disguise. This is why the local police usually shoot at any car that looks suspicious and then declare that their victims were rebels.
Even this was not the end of the story. Ingushetia’s jamaat reacted to the incidents uncharacteristically quickly. In a statement posted on the website of the Caucasus Emirate, the insurgency said the March 11 incident in Malgobek was carried out by a special unit of militants from the Velayat Galgaiche (the Caucasus Emirate’s name for Ingushetia and North Ossetia), and that Batyr Belkharoev was the intended target ( According to the rebels, Belkharoev had committed many crimes against the insurgency. In particular, the rebels said, he had participated in the torture of four captured rebels, using violent acts of a perverted nature.
In Ingushetia, where everyone knows everybody else, the leader of the republic’s jamaat, Artur Gatagazhev (a.k.a. Emir Abdullah), took responsibility for the killing of the police officer, thereby making himself and his group the possible target of a vendetta by the clan of the slain police officer. Abdullah became emir of the jamaat in the summer of 2013, after Ingushetia’s previous rebel emir, Adam (Jamaleil Mutaliev), was killed on May 21, 2013, in the Gamurzievo municipal district of Nazran (
The new rebel emir of Ingushetia, Abdullah, was born in 1975 in the city of Mary in Turkmenistan. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, his family returned to Ingushetia and settled in the Malgobek district village of Sagopshi. Back in 2009, Abdullah, then known as Artur Gatagazhev, was officially declared to be a rebel after he was found to have been behind a series of attacks on police officers in the republic (
Gatagazhev is being prosecuted under two articles of the Russian Criminal Code: Article 317, involving encroachment on the life of a law enforcement officer, which envisages 12 to 20 years in prison for those found guilty, and Article 222, involving the illegal purchase, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of weapons or their main parts, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices, which envisages three months to eight years in prison for those found guilty. While the police started looking for Gatagazhev only in 2009, this does not mean he actually joined the insurgents that year. The leader of Ingushetia’s rebels is one of the few members of the insurgency who is around 40 years old, while a majority of jamaat members are relatively young and in their mid to late 20s.
Ingushetia’s jamaat, which was one of the most active in the North Caucasus after 2001, ceased being active following a range of successful Federal Security Service (FSB) operations against its leaders in 2010. The FSB arrested Emir Magas (Taziev-Yevloev) alive and killed the main ideologue of the Caucasus Emirate, Said Buryatsky, who was based in Ingushetia in the same year.
Thus, it can be concluded that Ingushetia’s jamaat is still regrouping and defining its tactics under its new leader. Emir Abdullah’s long experience in the ranks of the resistance and his disregard of risks to his own family makes him a dangerous adversary for Ingushetian authorities, and he will likely become a key target of the Russian special services.