In the past two months three ‘Caucasus Emirate’ warlords appeared in videos declaring fealty to ISIL.
Moscow, Russia – In a lengthy diatribe posted on YouTube in late December, a full-bearded man in a loose white robe recites Quranic quotes before unleashing on an unseen opponent for growing a “plastic brain” and succumbing to “Satan’s tricks”.
The man is Ali Abu Muhammad, the fugitive head of the Caucasus Emirate, an underground jihadist network that has been fighting for years to turn Russia’s North Caucasus region into an independent state with Islamic law. Russian authorities outlawed the emirate as a terrorist group and Abu Muhammad, whose real name is Aliaskhab Kebekov, tops the federal list of the most-wanted criminals.
Kebekov’s tirade is aimed at his namesake, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Muhammad and considers himself the “emir” or ruler of Dagestan – the epicentre of an Islamist insurgency in Russia’s most ethnically diverse region, where hundreds of Islamist fighters, law enforcement officers, and civilians are killed every year.
A week earlier, Abu Muhammad declared that his small legion of bearded, camouflaged guerrillas had unilaterally left the Caucasus Emirate. Instead, they pledged allegiance to ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which now enlists hundreds of Caucasus natives and whose leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed himself the new caliph.
“You betrayed your brothers at a time when they needed unity and help the most,” Kebekov says in accented Russian sitting in front of the emirate’s black flag decorated with a Quranic phrase and the depiction of a sword. “You became the reason of a split between mujahideen. If you, brother, want to wage jihad with Baghdadi, go to him and leave us alone.”
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