Caucasus Emirate leader thought killed in raid

Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate.

The leader of the al Qaeda-linked terror group responsible for reigniting the violence in Chechnya and the small Russian Republics in the Caucasus region may have been killed during a counterterrorism raid.

The raid started when Russian attack helicopters launched a rocket strike against a safehouse in the village of Shalazhi in Chechnya’s Achkhoi-Martan district. Ground forces, including Chechen police, Russian special forces, and Russian Interior Ministry troops from the Federal Security Service followed up the airstrike and assaulted the safehouse lodged in the wooded, mountainous region.

More than 20 terrorists from the Caucasus Emirate are reported to have been killed. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate, may be among those killed, as three senior aides of Umarov were positively identified.

“The bodies of three of them have been identified,” Kadyrov told Interfax. “They are Islam Uspakhadzhiyev, Umarov’s closest associate, Rustam Akuyev and Alkhazur Bashayev. Uspakhadzhiyev was Umarov’s closest associate – they were moving around together and were holding negotiations by radio. For this reason we can’t rule out that Doku Umarov may be among those killed.”

Identifying those killed in the raid will be difficult as the bodies were mutilated, Kadyrov said.

Doku Umarov and al Qaeda

Doku Umarov is one of the last remaining original leaders of the Chechen rebellion and a close associate of al Qaeda. In November 2007, Umarov declared an Islamic emirate in the greater Caucasus region and named himself the emir, or leader.

This spring, Umarov reignited the insurgency by launching a wave of suicide attacks in the Caucasus. In April, Umarov revived the Riyad-us-Saliheen martyr brigade, which has spearheaded the assault. The group’s most successful operation was the wounding of Republic of Ingushetia’s president in June.

In the past, Umarov denied having connections with al Qaeda and rejected terrorist attacks against civilians. But in 2006, Abu Hafs al Urduni, al Qaeda’s former leader in Chechnya, stated the Chechen jihad was being reorganized under the command of Doku Umarov after the deaths of Shamil Basayev and a large contingent of the Chechen leadership.

Al Qaeda lionized Basayev after his death with a video tribute. Basayev took credit for the Beslan school massacre in Ingushetia, in which 344 civilians were killed, 186 of them children.

Despite the Russians’ brutal tactics and human rights violations, the Chechen jihad was largely defeated when the leadership was decapitated and the rank and file lost its direction.

After Russian security services killed Basayev and most of his senior staff, large numbers of Chechen fighters took advantage of an amnesty program. Over 350 Chechen fighters surrendered after the amnesty was announced during the summer of 2006. In November 2006, 35 of Umarov’s cadres, including some holding “high-ranking positions,” gave up the fight, and another 28 surrendered soon after. Umarov’s brother surrendered to Russian authorities in August 2006.

Russian and Chechen security forces thought they had Umarov in their sights in November 2006. Umarov was wounded after Russian forces conducted an assault on his hideout, but he escaped the assault. Just days later, Abu Hafs, al Qaeda’s Emir of Chechnya, was killed by Russian security services. Russian intelligence believed Abu Hafs was preparing to leave Chechnya “given the lack of prospects for jihad in the North Caucasus.”

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



  • Render says:

    “Despite the Russian’s brutal tactics and human rights violations, the Chechen jihad was largely defeated when the leadership was decapitated and the rank and file lost its direction.”
    Despite, or because of? Either way, there is a valuable lesson here on how to defeat an “insurgency.”
    Find the insurgent leaders. Hunt them down and kill them. All of them.

  • Spooky says:

    And become the bad guy in the process. Or did we suddenly forget all the Cold War era propaganda launched against Russia when they went into South Ossetia last year?
    We can go down to their level easily but if we do, we lose the moral high ground, which means everything for a democracy.

  • KaneKaizer says:

    The Russians have the advantage that the war is within their own country (a very small part of their country) and the rest of the world really couldn’t care less. That’s why they’ve been free to conduct themselves however they wish, whereas civilian casualties in Afghanistan or Iraq cause huge uproar across the globe. Some of that uproar can easily be attributed to political infighting.
    It’s that “uproar” and our “moral high ground” that make us look like we can’t win, that “Afghanistan/Iraq is/was an unwinnable conflict”.

  • Paul says:

    I’m no fan of his, but I don’t really consider Umarov to be a terrorist, certainly he is responsible for less civilian deaths than Putin or Kadyrov.
    The Chechens have been fighting for independence on and off for the last 150 years since the Russians colonised their land, and i’m sure they will continue to fight in one form or another until demographic changes lead the Russian Empire to join the British and French ones in the dustbin of history.

  • Render says:

    “We” already are the bad guy.
    No other nation nor group of nations in existence has the moral right or high ground upon which to question our actions in a war that was openly declared upon us.
    There is no such thing as a politically correct war.

  • Peter says:

    Kavkaz is reporting the death of 9 Mujahidden, including Emir Islam from a military helicopter attack on their moving vehicle. They are claiming there was no follow on attack.

  • Spooky says:

    When you try to do the right thing in the real world, you tend to settle in the grey area that is relatively acceptable. When you try for grey though, you end up in the black. As such, we would be THE bad guy, or are you trying to tell me that the terrorists and other entities that have done horrible acts are justified?
    There is a stark difference between what is right and what is easy. Political correctness has nothing to do with it.

  • Bird says:

    I totally agreee with Spooky. “Political correctness has nothing to do with it.”

  • Civy says:

    One of Robert Heinlein’s most interesting notions was that “civilizations have exactly the morality they can afford” – the dollar and cents kind of afford.
    Let’s hope the rich nations continue to cling to the moral high ground. Otherwise we might as well capitulate now and save the blood bath between now and then we become what we are fighting.
    The major problem we have right now is there are too many moneyed interests who have no interest in the west having energy independence, so we continue to flood the mid-east with an ocean of money which is then at the disposal of rich, bored tyrant makers.
    Of special interest is the recognition that a rather modest reduction in oil consumption would crush oil prices and put the moral nations back in charge of the ends western wealth is put to. I have no such expectation of the Chinese, so lets hope the west gets this done soon.

  • Tathagata Mukherjee says:

    KaneKaizer –a very small part of their country
    Actually, no. These Islamic terrorists did series of bombings in major Russian cities including Moscow few years back. Putin dealt with it ruthlessly. We saw horrendous things like Beslan.
    Not only inside Russia, many of these terrorist leaders were eliminated in the middle east where they were hiding by russian agents.
    All credit goes to Putin.

  • Scott says:

    Tathagata Mukherjee – If you’re going to give all credit to Putin don’t leave out apartment building bombings such as the one on September 4 in Buynaksk in Dagestana and the follow up one on
    September 9, 1999 19 Guryanova Street, Moscow. He certainly deserves an honorable mention for those.

  • jim2 says:

    If they commit deeds like the Beslan school massacre, I don’t care what they claim as motives, even if they say they are fighting for independence. Such doers are vermin and merit consideration as such.

  • Max says:

    Good job Medvedev and Putin!
    Keep the terrorist blood flowing.

  • Brian says:

    There definitely is something for the US to learn here. We will be damned for fighting Islamists no matter how we do it. While we should not target civilians intentionally, we should attack the Islamists as aggressively as we can, without regard to public opinion. Further, we need to harden ourselves to the fact that, since they surround themselves with civilians, we will inevitably kill civilians when we target the Islamists.
    What I see happening too often in our counterinsurgency campaigns is an effort to simply push the militants out of areas and hold the areas. All that does is move the problem all over the map. We need to focus on trapping and exterminating the Islamists – even if that means destroying a lot of infrastructure and angering the locals. First fix and destroy, then clear and hold, then win over the hearts an minds of the locals. Many of the locals are our opponents. First you need to defeat them – then you can become magnanimous in victory.

  • ramsis says:

    This pretty much just monsters killing monsters.

  • Mike says:

    The Beslan school massacre didn’t take place in Ingushetia. It took place in North Ossetia.

  • Bungo says:

    Bird said : “Political correctness has nothing to do with it.”
    Really !?!? Then explain to me why we can no longer use Napalm, Anti-personnel Mines, Chemical or Biological Weapons, Carpet Bombing or Nuclear Weapons ? Get real. It’s a wonder we are still “allowed” to use deadly force at all anymore. No wonder it takes forever to beat these idiots.

  • Paul says:

    Then explain to me why we can no longer use Napalm, Anti-personnel Mines, Chemical or Biological Weapons, Carpet Bombing or Nuclear Weapons ?

    Use against whom?

  • Render says:

    “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we would grow too fond of it.”
    -Robert E. Lee
    “War is hell.”
    -William T Sherman

  • Rhyno327 says:

    yes, you can whine and moan about “moral highground” and “brutal tactics”..they seemed pretty effective here..mind you, we are in a war against sub-humans, who kill coz YOU do not believe what they do..i have NO mercy for them whatsoever..i wish we still used nape and some other things, do you recall the beheading of NICK BERG?? Wow, a real humanitarian gesture that was..wake up WEST!!!


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram