Chechen unit from Islamic State reportedly fighting at Kobane

In a video released by ‘Amaq News, an unofficial news organization affiliated with the Islamic State, several Russian-speaking fighters are shown taking positions overlooking the Kurdish city of Kobane (or Ayn al Arab in Arabic). The fighters, according to the video’s title, are Chechen and more than likely belong to a group loyal to Omar al Shishani, a senior military leader in the Islamic State. The Islamic State has been battling forces from the PKK-linked People’s Protection Units, or YPG, for control of the Syrian town. [See Threat Matrix report, Islamic State advances near Kobane.]

According to Joanna Paraszczuk of From Chechnya to Syria, a website that tracks Russian-speaking fighters in Syria, this group is known as the al Aqsa Brigade. The group is comprised of those fighters who left the Chechen Jaysh al Muhajireen wal Ansar (Muhajireen Army) with Omar after he swore allegiance to the Islamic State. The Muhajireen Army is a Chechen-led group that considers themselves to be the Syrian branch of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate. The US State Department added the Muhajireen Army to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations on Sept. 24. [For more on the Muhajireen Army, see LWJ report State Department adds Chechen, Moroccan-led jihadist groups to terrorist list]

Omar al Shishani, whose real name is Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvilic, was added to the US list of Specially Designated Global terrorists on Sept. 24. He is a senior military leader in the Islamic State, and may be the group’s overall military commander.

Shishani’s Al Aqsa Brigade is often spearheading the Islamic State’s advance in key areas of Syria, so it is no surprise that his experienced fighting unit is on the front lines of the Islamic State’s offensive in Kobane.

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  • Mike in San Diego says:

    We need the adults to run the show here again. America is in some trouble.

  • What The!?!? says:

    Those guys have what appear to be standardized equipment, boots and respectable uniforms. They look like a real army. I thought they were supposed to be a bunch of rag tag wanna be Rambo civilians in flip flops and shooting old AKs. It’s a little scarier now…and maybe we misunderstood or underestimated what the Iraqis were up against.

  • Paul says:

    Chechens’s huh. Looks like all the media & US officials lied
    saying this was a “civil war”
    Good riddance.

  • Nancy Kobrin says:

    Shishani like Zarqawi lost his mother and then “lost it”. See my THE MATERNAL DRAMA OF THE CHECHEN JIHADI at
    Indeed we are in serious trouble if we do not recognize these interlockning links of violence earlier as it will come back to haunt us like the Tsarnaevs.

  • Tom says:

    I’ve watched this video many times and I’m stil astonished – I can here a Polish-speaking person there ! And I know what I’m talking about, becouse I’m Polish…
    Well, Russian and Polish languages are very similar, but there are some very important differences. I have no doubt that one of these guys spekas Polish words (“Tam jest” – what means “There is”; Russian speaking person should say “Zdies nahoditsia”).
    I wonder if there is possibility that any Polish citizen (“Abu …. al-Bolandi?) could fight alongside Chechen units in Syria/Iraq? In the past we have some people from Poland fighting as a volunteeres in Chechen army, against our common deadly foe, Russia…

  • Steuart says:

    It’s quite possible their is a Polish speaker. There is a small Tartar community in Poland. I believe the late Charles Bronson was half-Tartar his ancestors hailing from somewhere near the Polish-Lithuanian border.

  • blert says:

    Chechens hold a unique legacy from the USSR. They were the ‘Wet Work’ boys for the KGB, time and time, again.
    Chechens : Russia :: Sicilians : America
    That is, they are overwhelmingly associated with organized crime — in the Soviet Union. To do so, they worked hand and glove with the KGB, which was fulsomely corrupt. Breznev’s son-in-law was promoted to Major General for just such ‘family’ business interests.
    The Soviet Mafia (Arkady Vaksberg) St. Martin’s Press is loaded with dirt on the KGB and its Chechen crews.
    For high profile hits, the KGB would use Chechens – and then promptly whack their own assassins! Such gambits read like they’re straight out of “The Godfather, Part II.”
    So keep in mind that Putin’s former — and current buddies — have double agents running straight through all Chechen ranks — wherever they may be. It’s just the way the KGB rolls. (BTW, the external KGB now goes by SVR, still the same boys.)
    The implication is that Putin can manipulate events with total plausible deniability. (!)
    Since his invasion of Ukraine, it would be too easy to see him heating up ISIS, via his Chechen players. No-one would suspect a THING.
    Such a gambit would also have Assad kissing his ring, as the pontiff of bullets.
    Having his hand in would also fit Putin’s desire to humble both 0bama and Erdogan. He has a love-hate relationship with both.
    Outside Russia and the Ukraine this KGB-Chechen intimacy is largely unknown… that includes most American analysts. When any Russian journalist gets too blabby about this connection — they take a tumble from the fifth-floor of their apartment down to the street below. So, don’t look to see a lot of ink on it.
    It’s not for nothing that wherever Chechens show up (Pakistan terms them ‘foreigners’) troubles REALLY erupt. Further, it’s not a co-incidence that the drones keep tagging Chechens in the FATA. They are ALWAYS a CIA priority — for all of the reasons above.
    As you might imagine, Chechens were used, rather extensively, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Being Muslims, they had all the prayers down pat.
    Of course, this little detail never made print inside the USA. Most journalists back then couldn’t find Chechnya on a map.
    As penetration agents into Muslim networks, no ethnicity could suit Putin more. It’s impossible that he’s NOT doing so. It’s just the way the KGB rolls.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    @Tom I’m not surprised there are Polish nationals as well. ISIS have all different nationalities fighting, even including Macedonians (I suspect they are mostly of Albanian ethnic origin, as they constitute 25% of the population there), as well as others around the world.

  • “Tam yest” can be perfectly said in Russian. I think they are all Russian speakers. This is at least what I heard in the video

  • Мусульманин says:

    Same difference, you can say it either way – Tam jest, or – Zdes nahoditsya. Both is in Russian, but the meaning is different tho. First one is – Over there there is, second one – over here there is, or it’s located here etc. So both is Russian.


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