Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov retracts resignation


Doku Umarov, the leader of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Caucasus, from a videotape in which he took credit for the March 29 suicide attacks on the Moscow Metro.

Doku Umarov, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Caucacus Emirate in southern Russia, has retracted his resignation, which he issued just four days ago.

Umarov announced the retraction of his resignation in a 1:37-long videotape posted at Kavkaz Center, the propaganda arm of the Islamic Caucacus Emirate. He described his previous statement as “completely fabricated” but did not explain why he had issued it.

“In connection with the current situation in the Caucasus, I think it is not possible to step down from the Emir of the Caucasus Emirate,” Umarov said. “Insha’Allah [Allah willing], the previous statement is canceled by my statement. The previous statement was completely fabricated.”

He also said he was in good health and would fight until his death.

“I’m officially declaring that the health of me, Alhamdulillah, by the will of Allah, is good to serve on the way of Allah,” Umarov said. “Insha’Allah, I will serve in this way as long as Allah gives me life on this earth, and I will kill enemies of Allah.”

Umarov’s initial resignation was published on Aug. 1 at Kavkaz Center; shortly thereafter, the website was taken offline without explanation. It is unclear if the administrators of Kavkaz Center shut the website down, or if the Russians or other intelligence agencies or hackers took the site offline.

In his Aug. 1 statement, Umarov had appointed Aslambek Vadalov, the military commander of Caucaus Emirate forces in Dagestan and Chechnya, as his successor. The previous week, on July 24, Umarov had announced that Vadalov would be named his successor in the event of Umarov’s death or capture.

Russia has been targeting Umarov since he took control of the Chechen Islamists in 2006. Umarov announced the formation of the Causacus Emirate on October 31, 2007.

The US placed Umarov on the list of specially designated global terrorists on June 25 of this year. Over the past four years, Umarov has reignited the terror insurgency in the Caucasus and has backed suicide attacks throughout the region and even inside Russia. The most deadly attack inside Russia claimed by Umarov was the March 29 double suicide attack on the Moscow Metro that killed 39 people, and he has vowed to conduct further strikes in Russia.

For more information on Doku Umarov and the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, see LWJ report, Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov resigns.

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

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  • Neonmeat says:

    I really can’t understand this, why would he say on video that he is resigning then retract it. Could it be this some sort of double bluff aimed at keeping the pressure off Vadalov? Or perhaps internal pressures within the Islamist groups in Chechnya?

  • kp says:

    As the original was a video (not just say an edited together audio tape) it seems unlikely the original video was faked.

    Perhaps Doku Umarov has made many messages to be released in particular circumstances when he becomes “unavailable for comment”. This message would be handy if he knew the Russians were very close to catching/killing him and would dent the Russian propaganda win of killing the big leader (even if it is an odd thing to do).

    One could imagine given some recent Russian captures (or perhaps some Russian hacking) that the Russians have these videos and perhaps hacked the site to release it to cause confusion and perhaps require that Doku Umarov or Aslambek Vadalov and others into communication that could be observed. It also requires Umarov to make a prompt message to refute it which they got. It also dents the impact of future uses of this sort of message (“He’s resigning again?”).

    The fact that the site went down after it was released could be read as the owners realizing they’ve been hacked and perhaps having a problem verifying the authenticity of the post. They may need to look at the method they use to determine if a post is real or not. I suspect a lot of it relies on people known to each other. It could be the Russians were interested in provoking communication between them to locate them or see what their network looks like.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    Interesting take kp. Thanks.

  • TMP says:

    +1 on KPs take – Best bet is the site was hacked, pre-recorded tape played by Russia in order to try and get Doku to communicate….
    We should be doing much more of this with regard to the Taliban / AQ – We should be shaming them into coming out of hiding –

  • neonmeat says:

    Yes +1 KP again, very insightful ideas. I think you propose the most likely explanation for why this has happened and while I don’t neccessarily agree with most of the FSB & other Russian Security apparatus’s methods I agree with TMP that this is a tactic Coalition forces should and could employ.


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