Caucasus Emirate leader orders halt on attacks against Russian civilians
From left to right: Khamzat, the commander of the Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyr Brigade; Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate; and Saifullah, the suicide bomber of the deadly Jan. 24, 2011 suicide attack at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow that killed 35 people.
Doku Umarov, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate, has ordered an end to attacks that deliberately target Russian civilians. The move is a shift in strategy after his suicide bombers deliberately attacked civilians inside Russia over the past two years, including in the capital of Moscow.
Umarov "gave order to avoid attacks on civilian targets due to a process of civil protest that began in Russia, and the fact that people no longer accept Putin's policy," according to a report by Kavkaz Center, a propaganda outlet of the Caucasus Emirate. The statement is referring to recent protests against Vladimir Putin, the current Prime Minister of Russia, who is seeking a third term.
"This [the protests] may mean that the citizens of Russia - among other things - no longer support the barbarous methods of war used in the Caucasus Emirate and authorized by Putin and his clique," Kavkaz Center stated. "In this case, the civilian population of Russia stays outside the category of aggressor."
The "moratorium does not apply to military and political structures of the belligerent state," Kavkaz continued. "Likewise, this moratorium does not apply to the belligerent state itself, which will not be safe from attacks of the Mujahideen until a truce."
Caucasus Emirate fighters may continue to target "law enforcement structures, the military, intelligence services and political leadership of Russia."
The "truce" is "binding for all subdivisions of Mujahideen forces, including special-operation groups operating inside Russia." The "special-operation groups" likely include the Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyr Brigade, the suicide teams that have targeted civilians in the past.
The Caucasus Emirate has intentionally targeted civilians in recent years. Two of the most deadly attacks claimed by Umarov have occurred in Moscow. Umarov took credit for the Jan. 24, 2011 suicide attack at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow that killed 35 people and wounded scores more. Umarov also claimed responsibility for the March 29, 2010 suicide attack by two female bombers that killed 39 people in the Moscow metro.
In the past, Umarov has repeatedly vowed to continue attacks inside of Russia. In May 2011,Umarov said in an interview with Kavkaz Center that he considers "the Caucasus Emirate and Russia as a single theater of war."
"Today, the battlefield is not just Chechnya and the Caucasus Emirate, but also the whole Russia," he said last May. "The situation is visible to everybody who has eyes. The Jihad is spreading, steadily and inevitably, everywhere. I've already mentioned that all those artificial borders, administrative divisions, which the Taghut [false leader or liar] drew, mean nothing to us. The days when we wanted to secede and dreamed of building a small Chechen Kuwait in the Caucasus are over."
The Islamic Caucasus Emirate has close ties to al Qaeda. Some members of the group have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the International Islamic Battalion, the unit comprised of Arab and other foreign fighters that fights in the Caucasus, has been led by senior al Qaeda leaders. The top leaders of the International Islamic Battalion have included al Qaeda commander Ibn al Khattab (killed in 2002); Abu al Walid (killed in 2004); Abu Hafs al Urduni (killed in 2006); and Muhannad (killed in April 2011).
For more information on the Islamic Caucasus Emirate and its war with Russia, see LWJ report, 35 killed in suicide attack at Moscow airport.