The Islamic State’s so-called “province” in the Caucasus region has claimed responsibility for its first official attack since its was established earlier this year. The claim cannot be independently verified.
In a statement released online (seen above), and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the group says “the soldiers of the Caliphate were able to mount an attack on barracks of the Russian army in southern Dagestan, in Magharamakint village.” The raid allegedly “led to the killing and wounding of a number of them.” Afterwards, “the soldiers of the Caliphate returned to their positions safely and with spoils, and unto Allah is all praise and gratitude,” SITE’s translation reads.
The Islamic State announced its Caucasus branch in June, but the jihadists had not claimed responsibility for any attacks since then.
In an audio message released on June 23, the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, accepted the bayat (oath of allegiance) from jihadists who defected from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Caucasus Emirate (ICE).
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the “Emir of the Faithful,” has “accepted your bayat and has appointed the noble sheikh Abu Muhammad al Qadarī as Wali [or governor] over [the Caucasus],” Adnani said at the time. He continued by calling for all the mujahideen in the Caucasus “to join” al Qadari’s “caravan and to hear and obey him in everything except sin.”
It appears that Qadari is Rustam Asilderov, an ICE leader in Dagestan who defected to the Islamic State late last year. One of Asilderov’s known aliases is very similar to “Abu Muhammad al Qadari,” the same name used by Adnani.
Al Qaeda and ICE have tried to stem the tide of defections to the Islamic State. But the loss of three leaders in just over a year and a half has destabilized ICE’s operations and likely contributed to the Islamic State’s gains in the region.
Russian forces killed ICE’s emir, Magomed Suleimanov (also known as Abu Usman Gimrinsky), in August. Suleimanov was publicly identified as ICE’s new leader just weeks earlier. Also killed in the raid was the jihadist selected to lead ICE’s Dagestan “province” after Asilderov’s defection.
Suleimanov had succeeded Aliaskhab Kebekov, more commonly known as Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani, who was killed by Russian forces in April. Kebekov rose to ICE’s top leadership position after his predecessor, Doku Umarov, perished sometime in either late 2013 or early 2014.
Today’s claim of responsibility by the Islamic State’s Caucasus arm is formatted in the same fashion as other statements by the “caliphate’s” declared “provinces.” The consistent branding demonstrates that the Islamic State’s propaganda machine is coordinating information across multiple countries where the jihadists are fighting.