Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 18

Russian news agencies reported on May 1 that Magomed Chakhkiev, the father-in-law of Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov who was kidnapped on February 27, was freed. RIA Novosti quoted local law enforcement sources as saying the Chakhkiev, a deputy in Ingushetia’s parliament, had been freed as a result of a special operation by law enforcement agencies “without prior conditions” and that several people suspected of involvement in his kidnapping had been captured. Yet Kavakzky Uzel on May 2 reported that law enforcement sources had told the Ingushetiya.ru website that the payment of a large ransom, not a special operation, had freed Chakhkiev. “The authorities showed their impotence, paid a ransom and gave criminals an incentive to carry out new crimes of this kind,” an unnamed high-level law enforcement official was quoted as saying.

The separatist Kavkazcenter website on May 2 published the responses to questions it had posed to the leader of the Ingush “Sharia” jamaat, Emir Khabibulla, which it said it received by e-mail on the night of April 30-May 1, before the news of Magomed Chakhkiev’s release. Khabibulla had previously reportedly contacted Zyazikov and Chakhkiev’s other son-in-law, Ingushetian Prosecutor Makhmud Ali Kalimatov, demanding that they both resign in exchange for Chakhkiev’s release (see Chechnya Weekly, March 30). On this occasion, Khabibulla repeated his demand that “mujahideen brothers” be released from prison or Zyazikov and Kalimatov resign in order for Chakhkiev to be released.

On other matters, the Ingush “emir” said that “the jihad” was continuing, claiming his group “had to hold back the surge of young people who want to take part in the jihad because we do not have the means to handle them.”

Khabibulla also confirmed that his group was carrying out attacks on Russian inhabitants of Ingushetia. “The reason we are doing so is as follows,” he said. “The question of how to oppose the actions of the Russian infidels and munafiqs [hypocrites] who are setting fire to homes in which the mujahideen sometimes stay and killing the occupants was put before the Sharia court of the Ingush sector. If one member of the mujahideen is discovered in a house, then it is completely destroyed, and its owners, who are completely innocent and are simply offering their houses and apartments (unaware that these could be members of the mujahideen) are either shot or burnt alive in their homes with the use of tanks and flame-throwers. Having considered this question, during which a report about the large-scale influx of Russian colonialists from Russia to Ingushetia (and also Chechnya) was also examined, the Sharia court of the Ingush sector decided that the Russian population of Ingushetia should be considered as invaders and given the status of military colonialists. We can now attack the Russian population on a lawful basis. We have recently carried out a whole series of such attacks. In Troitskaya alone we attacked over ten homes of Russian colonialists in one night. We shall step up these attacks. This is our retaliation for the murder and abduction of Ingush citizens and the destruction of their homes and the new colonization policy.”

Khabibulla said his group was in “constant touch” with “mujahideen” in Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. “The infidels are doing all they can to hide the real situation in these republics,” he said. “For example, I was in Chechnya in March for a conference of emirs which was chaired by Shamil [Basaev]. A report on the military situation in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia was presented at the conference. From January to March in Nalchik alone the mujahideen wiped out over 20 officers of the Interior Ministry and the FSB, not to mention rank-and-file troops. The Russian infidels keep quiet about this. And in Karachaevo-Cherkessia during this period 17 FSB and Interior Ministry officers were wiped out during a special operation. Again, the Russians stay silent.”

Khabibulla claimed increasing popular support, adding that “Islam has risen, God willing, and this process cannot be halted” and that “with God’s mercy our ranks are being reinforced every day,” and ending the interview with the obligatory “Allahu Akbar!”

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reported on May 1 that two people were wounded by a bomb blast in Nazran’s municipal district of Gamurdievsky. According to the news agency, one of the victims had his leg amputated.

Prague Watchdog reported on May 2 that Russian planes had bombed an area of mountain and forest located between Ingushetia’s Nazran and Sunzhensky districts, near the republic’s administrative border with North Ossetia, on the night of May 1-2. The website quoted local residents as saying they heard the sound of jet fighters and of two bomb explosions in the vicinity of the villages of Ali-Yurt and Surkhakhi in the Nazran district. One resident said the blasts rattled his windows. Prague Watchdog reported that the reason for the air strike remained unknown, but said Ingushetian law enforcement agencies had reported that sub-units of the 58th army were conducting training exercises on the outskirts of Surkhakhi and Ali-Yurt.

According to Prague Watchdog, the same night as the air strike, Russian forces subjected the outskirts of the village of Valerik in Chechnya’s Achkoi-Martan district to 10-15 minutes of “concentrated artillery bombardment.” No one was hurt as a result of the shelling, the website reported.