Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 41

In a statement posted on the separatist Daymohk and Chechenpress website on October 23, Chechen rebel leader Dokku Umarov congratulated Muslims on the Id al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan. During Ramadan, the mujahideen of the Caucasus “continued to show the will and courage in defending the insulted and humiliated, sacrificing the most precious—their lives,” the statement read. “May Almighty Allah accept this holy blood as well on the way to Jihad—the best of sacrifices.”

It continued: “We are remembering today those who died on their way to Allah, innocents whose lives have been destroyed, and the ordeals of those who are being detained in Russian concentration camps. We pray for the souls of the killed and for the salvation of those who are suffering in the enemy prison. We are also remembering today orphaned children, and widowed sisters. May Allah protect them from the craftiness and cruelty of the enemy and keep them well off. And may all of those who are separated from home return free to Chechnya for our fatherland’s prosperity.”

Umarov concluded his statement by saying that the war is not yet over. “Our nation is still mourning for the killed, subject to violence and humiliation, looking for the missing,” it read. “The tragedy of the devastated and offended fatherland of ours continues. And mujahideen are doing everything they can in this unequal battle in order to forestall the enemy reaching its final objective. Pray for us, like we pray for you. By Allah, we are trying to go the way of Jihad with dignity for the glory of Islam and retaliation against our butchers. Patience and happiness to you. May Allah awards victory to everyone who is on His right way.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on October 24 that a Swedish court had detained a Russian man accused of being involved in the 1999 kidnapping of a photographer in Chechnya, pending an extradition request by Russian authorities. The 29-year-old man, identified in court documents as Magomed Uspaev, with the alias Maga Zahkijev, is accused by Moscow of taking part in the kidnapping of Vladimir Yatsina, a photographer for Itar-Tass. Yatsina was captured by Chechen rebels in July 1999, and later murdered by those who held him hostage. Earlier this month, Sweden’s Justice Department received a Russian extradition request for Uspaev, which will be decided at a later date.

MosNews on October 25 quoted Uspaev’s lawyer, Richard Backenroth, as telling the Swedish news agency TT that his client was innocent of the charges. “He does not deny taking part in the [Chechen] conflict, but he denies any involvement in the kidnapping,” Backenroth was quoted as saying. Uspaev claims to be a cousin of Chechnya’s late former president and rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, which Backenroth said is the reason he is being targeted by Russian authorities.