Monitor’s correspondent has at hand a leaflet containing the proclamation of the "Dagestani Central Liberation Front." According to the text, this underground organization claims responsibility for the raid on the Russian military unit in the Dagestani city of Buinaksk (see the Monitor, December 23), and asserts that the raid marks the beginning of Jihad in Dagestan. The organization’s goal is "to liberate Dagestan from the Russian occupation" and to create an independent Islamic state on its territory.
The leaflet may be just a forgery prepared by the Dagestani authorities in order to give Makhachkala a pretext to settle accounts with its political opponents on the eve of the elections for the head of the republic, scheduled to be held in June. Earlier, the Dagestani authorities blamed the raid on Wahhabis. (See the Monitor, January 6) This time, however, a government provocation seems less likely.
In an interview with ORT, Bagauddin, one of the leaders of the Dagestani Wahhabis, said that "Dagestan can stay in Russia only if Russia becomes an Islamic state." (ORT, January 23) Monitor’s correspondent also has a videotape of the December 20, 1997 signing of a "Military Mutual-Assistance Treaty" between well-known Chechen field commander Salman Raduev and "the armed forces of the Islamic Jamaat of Dagestan" (an organization of Dagestani Wahhabis — Monitor).
On January 24, Monitor’s correspondent visited the Dagestani village of Karamakhi (one of the centers of the Dagestani Wahhabis). The leader of the local Wahhabis, Khalif Ataev, told him that the Islamic Jamaat supports the mission of the "Dagestani Central Liberation Front" and is beginning the "fight against the Russian occupationists on the territory of Dagestan." Ataev is convinced that Chechen fighters — primarily those from the detachment of Jordanian-born field commander Emir Khattab, the leader of the Chechen Wahhabis — will come to his aid. "One of the women from our village is married to Khattab, and consequently, it is quite natural that we maintain close contacts with him," Ataev told the Monitor.
Bashkortostan’s Last Independent Newspaper to be Closed.