In Pictures: Al Qaeda in the Caucasus


Click image to view the slideshow of the leadership of al Qaeda in the Caucasus.

This presentation looks at some of the major leaders in Caucasus jihad in the past and present. Chechnya served as one of the first battlegrounds outside of Afghanistan for al Qaeda in the early 1990s. Al Qaeda sent thousands of foreign fighters to Chechnya to fight alongside the domestic Chechen resistance to the Russians during the First and Second Chechen Wars. Al Qaeda also funneled large amounts of money to the fight in Chechnya and used the theater as a training ground and well as propaganda and recruiting tool. The Chechen leadership became increasingly radicalized and the jihad expanded to the greater Caucasus. In the fall of 2007, Doku Umarov, the new leader of the Chechen jihadis, declared the Islamic Caucasus Emirate and impose sharia law.

Nick Grace from contributed to this presentation.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Damon says:

    I linked to this in the Lightstalkers website, a resource for photographers and photojournalists. An immediate response in the thread was to dispute the introduction to the presentation: “i am sure putin was pleased to see this – all that confusion and conflation and unsubstantiated claims and unverifiable images and the best; the complete erasure of the history and origin of the chechnyan conflict and its replacement by a calming, comforting narrative about islamic fanaticism and derangement.”
    Interesting to hear your response Bill on this.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Al Qaedas involvement in Chechnya is well documented. Perhaps this person can explain Khattab, Abu Hafs, Ghamdi, Saif, and Masri’s involvement with the highest level of Chechen leadership; the International Islamic Brigade; al Qaeda’s financial support; Doku’s declaration of support for international jihad; I could go on…
    Chechnya certainly had a strong domestic/nationalist element to its rebels. Al Qaeda’s involvement in Chechnya is well documented. This doesn’t excuse Russia’s brutality with the Chechen population, which seems to be a big hang-up of those who don’t want to recognize al Qaeda’s involvement there.

  • Blackhawk says:

    Suggest read Arkady Babchenko’s ‘One Soldiers War in Chechnya. Then talk to me about ‘hang ups’ For bleeding hearts like me.
    Veteran Second Indochina War 66-68

  • Bill Roggio says:

    As I said, I don’t make excuses for the Russians. People shouldn’t make excuses for or deny al Qaeda’s involvement in Chechnya either. This mutually exclusive viewpoint baffles me, frankly.

  • In case you’ve forgotten some of the other fronts in teh Global War on Terror …

    Here’s a pictorial fact sheet of the main bad guys in the Caucasus front. Just as “Greens” and Anarchists made legendary war correspondent Radek Sikorski quip that for the first time in his life he felt sympathy for a German in unifor…

  • Blackhawk says:

    I’m the last person to deny the involvement of al Quada during the Chechen wars. But I believe the West’s double standards and blindness to the Chechen genocide by the Russians created a vacuum that allowed al Qaeda in. Had the West been paying attention, al Qaeda may not have gotten a foothold in the Caucasus. To think GWB Jr. looked Putin in the eye and saw a good man makes me question GWB’s eyesight. BTW, LBJ’s optician wasn’t that great either…..LOL. Bill, I enjoy your site one of the best out there for those of us that care about truth, and understanding the ‘clear and present danger’ of ignoring the lesson’s of history.

  • Shade says:

    What baffles me is how the troubles of the world always seem to fall on the shoulders of the west. Russian actions in Chechnya are the fault of the west because of our “non-action” during the Chechen wars? While its obvious that our foreign policies have mainstreamed Islamic radicalism in many places around the world, I refuse to believe it is the sole fault of the west. Al-Qaeda’s presence in Chechnya may in part be due to the Russians actions during the war, but that is not the sole and exclusive deciding faction. The problem with the west is the idea that the world’s state of being rests soley within our control. Any intervention by the west during the Chechen Wars would not have kept al-qaeda out of Chechnya anymore than it kept al-qaeda out of Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, it may have caused more of a flood of mujahideen.

  • Blackhawk says:

    Intervention can take many forms. By turning a blind eye to the Chechen genocide by the Russians; US, Nato, and the UN certainly showed a callous indifference and a double standard in regard to human rights that actually may strengthened the lure of Radical Islam.

  • Shade says:

    But isn’t it the intervention of the UN, US and NATO in Iran or Afghanistan or Iraq that has made the world angry with the actions of the west. It’s a damned if you do, damned if your don’t situation that seems to only apply to western civilization. You don’t hear the Russians accepting blame for their actions in Chechnya nor do you hear Saudi Arabia taking responsiblity for the thousands of Islamic radicals they have produced that have committed violent acts all over the world. The true double standard is the fact that when the west does intervene, regardless of the form that intervention may take, it is regarded as an attempt by an “empire” to police the world but when we do not intervene, such as Chechnya or the Sudan, then we are criticized for our inaction as a world power. It seems to be a no-win situation and I personally don’t understand the western populations obsession with self-blame when it obvious that the fault lies elsewhere. When do we start calling the rest of the world on their actions and start placing blame where it truly lies. I’m not saying that the west hasn’t made mistakes and missteps time after time, but to constantly tack the blame onto us is turning a blind eye to those who are truly responsible.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram