Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 27

The Sharia Jamaat on July 12 officially confirmed the death of its leader Rasul Makasharipov. “Praise Allah, on July 6 in the city of Shamilkal (formerly Makhachkala), during the defense of a mujahideen base in the course of a violent battle, the Emir of the Islamic Jamaat of Dagestan ‘Sharia’ Rasul Makasharipov (call sign ‘Muslim’), Shamil Korodinsky (call sign ‘Vakkas’) and Zeid Korodinsky became shahids [martyrs-CW],” the group said in a statement posted on the separatist Kavkazcenter website. “The two remaining mujahideen broke the encirclement by the infidels and are alive and unharmed and are safely located at an operational base. No one was taken prisoner. During the course of the battle four infidels were annihilated and three wounded. Allahu Akbar!”

The statement said that prior to his death, Makasharipov, “in accordance with the opinion of the Shura of the Islamic Jamaat ‘Sharia’,” had designated Shamil Kulinsky to succeed him as the group’s “emir” in the event of his death. The group also vowed to continue its “jihad.” It accused the “infidels” and “traitors” – meaning the Russian forces and their local allies, respectively – of assaulting “our dwellings” and doing so while “our children and women were located in them,” and in particular of killing one man and his 18-year-old nephew while abducting the man’s wife. Given these actions, the group said it would “with all available means and powers” carry out the assaults on “the dwelling of the infidels and traitors despite the fact that their children and wives may be in them,” “annihilate adult relatives of the infidels” and “capture the wives and daughters of the infidels.” It cited Koranic verses putatively justifying such actions.

Referring to the Sharia Jamaat, Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov said on July 11 that “the entire group, Makasharipov’s group, is over and done with,” NTV reported. That same say, the Dagestani Interior Ministry announced that it had captured Gandzhimurad Gasanov, an “active participant” in Makasharipov’s unit, RIA Novosti reported. Meanwhile, two policemen in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district were murdered over the course of 24 hours. A police major with the Khasavyurt district police department was killed in his home in the village of Porkovskoe in the early hours of July 12. Interfax quoted police sources as saying that the home of the victim – identified as “Major Azadov,” an aide to the head of the Khasavyurt police – had been attacked by unidentified assailants several days earlier. In the early hours of July 13, a police sergeant was shot to death in his home in Khasavyurt. “Two unknown people in masks shot a staff sergeant who was on vacation and in his garden,” quoted police sources as saying.

The Sharia Jamaat and its predecessor, Jennet, are believed responsible for the assassination of dozens of Dagestani policemen over the last several years. Whether or not the Sharia Jamaat carried out the latest murders of policemen, some observers predicted that the death of the group’s leader would do little to impede the wave of violence against law-enforcement and other security personnel in the republic. Nezavisimaya gazeta on July 7 quoted Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center as saying that while Makasharipov was widely “hyped,” he was “just one leader of one jamaat.” “And in Dagestan now there are not two or three jamaats, but allegedly twelve,” Malashenko told the newspaper. National Strategy Institute director Stanislav Belkovsky also played down the significance of Makasharipov’s elimination. “The Kremlin has virtually no control over the situation in the North Caucasus and all three precision strikes against people whose influence on events is unknown to anyone are ineffective,” he told Nezavisimaya gazeta. “As in the case of Maskhadov, who was not a key figure at the time he was eliminated…The success in Makhachkala will not last long since the instability is not going anywhere but will, on the contrary, mount. Another Makasharipov will appear. And he will not be alone.”

Likewise, Kavkazky Uzel on July 11 quoted an anonymous Dagestani Interior Ministry officer involved in anti-terrorism as saying that his superiors were disseminating “disinformation for the population” and that “everything is much more complex and worse.” The situation in the republic “is literally deteriorating by the day,” he said, adding that there are “several Wahhabi cells” active in Dagestan, particularly in Makhachkala. “They do not have a joint center of command,” he said. “Therefore, it is simply irresponsible to blame everything on one person, be it Rappani Khalilov or Makasharipov.”