Russian and Ingush Authorities Blame Umarov and Al-Qaeda

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 35

A source in an unspecified “Russian law-enforcement agency” told Interfax on September 11 that up to 100 militants, combined into the so-called “Western Resistance Front” and led by Chechen rebel leader Dokku Umarov, are operating in Ingushetia. “Various estimates suggest that between 80 and 100 active militants are operating in the mobile militant groups of the ‘Western Resistance Front’ in Ingushetia,” the source told the news agency. “Most of the bandits terrorizing citizens have crossed into Ingushetia from Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus. According to our sources, the terrorists active in Ingushetia are led by the notorious Dokku Umarov, appointed to be president of secessionist Ichkeria after [Chechen rebel leader and former president Aslan] Maskhadov was killed.” The source told Interfax that the Ingush Interior Ministry’s means and resources and other law-enforcement agencies “are actively involved in work to prevent terror attacks targeting civilians” and that additional Interior Ministry troops have been deployed to seal Ingushetia’s administrative border.

Vremya novostei reported on September 11 that three al-Qaeda emissaries of Arab origin were behind the latest violence in Ingushetia. Citing an Ingush special services source, the newspaper said the emissaries were paying rebels $3,000 to $5,000 per attack. However, the Moscow Times on September 12 quoted Sergei Markedonov, a Caucasus analyst with the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, as saying that al-Qaeda involvement in Ingushetia’s violence was highly unlikely. “There are many other and more prospective places to fight a jihad – Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East,” he said. “By blaming al-Qaeda, Ingush officials are trying to dodge flak over their own failures.”