Russian security services killed the Chechen al Qaeda leader in neighboring Dagestan
The Russian government has made significant progress against the Chechen branch of al Qaeda over the past year. Today, Russian’s Federal Security Services killed Abu Hafs, al Qaeda in Chechnya’s commander, during a raid on a safe house in the neighboring state of Dagestan, along with four associates. Abu Haf’s death follows that of Shamil Basayev, the leader of the Chechen jihad, along with much of his senior staff. Since his death, almost 350 Chechen terrorist have surrendered and accepted reconcilliation. Last week, the Russians were hunting Doku Umarov, Basayev’s successor, and injured him during a three day battle.
Abu Hafs, (a.k.a. Abu Havs, Abu Khavs, Abu Khafs, Abu Hafs al-Urduni) was born born in Jordan. His real name is Farid Yusef Umeira. He was a Wahabi, the sect of Sunni Islam that provides the ideological underpinnings of al Qaeda, and was believed to have possessed a Saudi citizenship. He succeeded al Qaeda commanders Abu Walid al-Ghamdi (a Saudi) and Ibn al Khattab (a Saudi), who were killed by the Russians in 2004 and 2002 respectively. Russian intelligence believes Abu Hafs “helped to organise and finance the Beslan siege” and was “the main channel for funds from the Arab world.” Colin Powell cited Abu Hafs as “the principle conspirator in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Iraq-linked terrorist network.”
Russian intelligence believed he was prepared to leave Chechnya… “given the lack of prospects for jihad in the North Caucasus.” On October 16, he issued a videotape and prayed “unto Allah to allow the month [of Ramadan] to be one of mercy, money, fear and salvation for the Mujahideen and those Muslims who support them.”
While media reports typically obscure Abu Hafs’ (and other Chechen terrorist leaders) connections with al Qaeda, his own words speak volumes about his loyalties. On September 19, 2004, Abu Hafs issued a communique calling for attacks on the United States. “The Leaders of the Chechen and the Ansaar [foreign] mujahideen now declare the commencement of attacks on Russian and American interests in Chechnya after having observed that the Russian and American sides continue to [attack] the honor and dignity of Islam and the Muslims in Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan and in other Muslim countries,” said Abu Hafs.
In a November 16 interview with Kavkaz Center, the “Chechen independent international Islamic Internet news agency” that serves as the mouthpiece for the Chechen terrorists, Abu Hafs comes as close to admitting he is al Qaeda as he can. “As for me personally, I have gone out for Jihad in the Way of Allah. Also I am the person obedient to His religion. Would it be fair to those who protect honor, religion and the oppressed Muslim brothers to name members of Al-Qaeda? … My opinion is that they are group of Muslim Mujahideen, similarly to other groups. They help Islam and the oppressed Muslim and Osama bin Laden is one of the leaders of Jihad. I ask Allah to help everybody who shows diligence on His Way. ”
Kavkaz Center, in its preface to its interview with Abu Hafs, provides a succinct view of al_qaeda view on the war. “Thousands are leaving the American war, with Iraq’s Mujahideen covering the streets with enemy corpses, with the Taliban leading the Afghan Mujahideen who are now poised to clear Kabul and Muslims in Somalia winning victory after victory. The Islamic Chechen Republic continues as the Chechen jihad began even earlier than in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.”
To al Qaeda, the theaters of Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia are intricately linked. These battles, along with those in Indonesia, the Philippines, North Africa, the Levant an dthe whole of the Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Spain, and elsewhere are battles in the greater war to restore the Islamic Caliphate.