Caucasus Emirate leader orders halt on attacks against Russian civilians


From left to right: Khamzat, the commander of the Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyr Brigade; Doku Umarov, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate; and Saifullah, the suicide bomber of the deadly Jan. 24, 2011 suicide attack at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow that killed 35 people.

Doku Umarov, the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate, has ordered an end to attacks that deliberately target Russian civilians. The move is a shift in strategy after his suicide bombers deliberately attacked civilians inside Russia over the past two years, including in the capital of Moscow.

Umarov “gave order to avoid attacks on civilian targets due to a process of civil protest that began in Russia, and the fact that people no longer accept Putin’s policy,” according to a report by Kavkaz Center, a propaganda outlet of the Caucasus Emirate. The statement is referring to recent protests against Vladimir Putin, the current Prime Minister of Russia, who is seeking a third term.

“This [the protests] may mean that the citizens of Russia – among other things – no longer support the barbarous methods of war used in the Caucasus Emirate and authorized by Putin and his clique,” Kavkaz Center stated. “In this case, the civilian population of Russia stays outside the category of aggressor.”

The “moratorium does not apply to military and political structures of the belligerent state,” Kavkaz continued. “Likewise, this moratorium does not apply to the belligerent state itself, which will not be safe from attacks of the Mujahideen until a truce.”

Caucasus Emirate fighters may continue to target “law enforcement structures, the military, intelligence services and political leadership of Russia.”

The “truce” is “binding for all subdivisions of Mujahideen forces, including special-operation groups operating inside Russia.” The “special-operation groups” likely include the Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyr Brigade, the suicide teams that have targeted civilians in the past.

The Caucasus Emirate has intentionally targeted civilians in recent years. Two of the most deadly attacks claimed by Umarov have occurred in Moscow. Umarov took credit for the Jan. 24, 2011 suicide attack at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow that killed 35 people and wounded scores more. Umarov also claimed responsibility for the March 29, 2010 suicide attack by two female bombers that killed 39 people in the Moscow metro.

In the past, Umarov has repeatedly vowed to continue attacks inside of Russia. In May 2011,Umarov said in an interview with Kavkaz Center that he considers “the Caucasus Emirate and Russia as a single theater of war.”

“Today, the battlefield is not just Chechnya and the Caucasus Emirate, but also the whole Russia,” he said last May. “The situation is visible to everybody who has eyes. The Jihad is spreading, steadily and inevitably, everywhere. I’ve already mentioned that all those artificial borders, administrative divisions, which the Taghut [false leader or liar] drew, mean nothing to us. The days when we wanted to secede and dreamed of building a small Chechen Kuwait in the Caucasus are over.”

The Islamic Caucasus Emirate has close ties to al Qaeda. Some members of the group have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the International Islamic Battalion, the unit comprised of Arab and other foreign fighters that fights in the Caucasus, has been led by senior al Qaeda leaders. The top leaders of the International Islamic Battalion have included al Qaeda commander Ibn al Khattab (killed in 2002); Abu al Walid (killed in 2004); Abu Hafs al Urduni (killed in 2006); and Muhannad (killed in April 2011).

The US added the Caucasus Emirate to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities in May 2011. Umarov was added the the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in June 2010.

For more information on the Islamic Caucasus Emirate and its war with Russia, see LWJ report, 35 killed in suicide attack at Moscow airport.

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



  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I’m guessing Russia’s security service have made it difficult for Muslim Caucasus extremists to attack Russian civilians, hence this speech from Doku Umarov. In other words, he’s saving his own pride, by not admitting that his group has failed in its mission.

  • Max Ocean says:

    My take on this is that Dokku Umarov is playing a clever game here, masking his true intentions, as all Islamists do. He doesn’t care about Russian civilians, there have been protests against Putin’s rule in the past(admittedly not as big as the current ones), and he and other terror leaders like Basayev knew way back when the terrorism on Russian soil started in 2002 that Putin did not win his elections, there was voter fraud. So their rationale about not targeting civilians now because they no longer support Putin and thus his policies in the North Caucasus is flawed. Maybe in 1999-2000 they did. But after Beslan they didn’t. The Moscow Metro bombings, the Nevsky express bombing and the Domodedevo airport bombing were not warranted. But Since the metro and airport bombings, Umarov has seen the noose tighten around his neck. The U.S. has placed sanctions against his movement and has declared him a major terror figure with a $5 million dollar bounty on his head, he sees that the world does not see him or his movement as a simply internal Russian issue. Not only that, but he is trying to soften up his image to avoid assassination. After the metro and airport bombings the FSB went on a rampage and killed or captured several high ranking emirs of the Caucasus emirate, namely Emir Magas(chief military emir) Emir Muhannad(Arab commander) Emir Abdullah(Muhannad’s successor), Emir Supyan(Deputy Emir, under Umarov) and many other Emirs of different sectors, from Dagestan to Ingushetia. Too late for Umarov to change his image now, all of Russia hates him and his time will come.

  • TLA says:

    Is it fair to say that the Russian security services have hit ’em hard, and they are reverting to propaganda?

  • KW64 says:

    While it would be interesting to know how Russians view this sort of ploy/Olive Branch; I suspect it would have about as much impact as Khamenei saying that electing Ron Paul would facilitate a truce with Iran.

  • Paul says:

    The Chechen rebel leadership really should have kept to this policy all along (Maskhadov did but Shamil Basayev had other ideas). Targeting civilians never lead to any sort of tangible gains and probably did them irreparable harm


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram