Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 2

The separatist Chechenpress news agency’s website posted a statement on January 11 from the Sharia Jamaat, the armed Dagestani Islamic militant group. In it, the group claimed that its “Dzhundulla” sub-unit had killed three members of an Interior Ministry unit in the village of Novolakskoe on December 27. The group also claimed it had killed three “hypocrites” while losing one of its members in a battle in the town of Gimri on December 15, and had detonated a landmine on December 9 that killed a Dagestani policeman and a policeman from Bryansk and wounded four other policemen. The Sharia Jamaat also claimed it had detonated a landmine that derailed a freight train traveling from Gudermes to Moscow on December 8, and that its “Abdulla” sub-unit had blown up a vehicle carrying police and military servicemen in the city of Buinaksk in December, killing an unknown number of them. The group also claimed it was continuing an operation in Gimiri and had killed more than 80 members of Dagestan’s OMON special police unit (Chechnya Weekly, January 5; also see article below).

The statement by the Sharia Jamaat, which has killed dozens of Dagestani police officers, warned “all police and other hypocrites” to “fear Allah and revenge by Muslims,” adding: “We will shut your mouths with bullets.” Addressing Muslims who had not joined its ranks, the group stated: “The destruction of opponents of Sharia is a forced but necessary measure prescribed by the Koran and the Sunnah. The war against the infidel will continue until all power belongs to Allah.”

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reported on January 10 that law-enforcement agents in Dagestan had detained a member of al-Qaeda. The news agency identified the suspect as Ali Soitekin Ollu, a 28-year-old Turkish national. “During interrogation, Ali Soitekin Ollu confessed to taking an active part in terrorist activities as a member of the gang led by al-Qaeda representative Abu Hafs,” Itar-Tass quoted the public relations department of the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying. It was apparently referring to Abu Hafs al-Urdani, the Jordanian mujahideen commander in Chechnya.

According to the FSB, the alleged Turkish al-Qaeda member served in the Turkish army in 1996-1997 and was recruited by Islamic extremists in 2001 to carry out terrorist activities in Chechnya. “To this end, he traveled to Baku with a group of fellow countrymen, took a bus to Tbilisi and then reached the Pankisi Gorge by taxi where Abu Hafs was staying at the time,” the FSB claimed, adding that Ollu was trained there for about a year as part of a group of 35 Turkish citizens led by a Turkish national known as Abu Zar. According to the FSB, Abu Hafs trained two groups of foreigners numbering 35 to 40 people each and sent them into Chechnya. Ollu arrived in Chechnya in August 2002 as part of a group led by the late Chechen rebel field commander Ruslan Gelaev and “took an active part in hit and run attacks on federal forces” across Chechnya during 2002-2004. These attacks included a June 2004 attack on the Shali district village of Avtury in which, the FSB claimed, terrorists led by Abu Hafs, Shamil Basaev, Aslan Maskhadov and Rappani Khalilov took 12 civilians hostage. Ollu was wounded in June 2004 and taken to Dagestan for treatment, where he hid for a year, Itar-Tass reported.