The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting at a church in Kizlyar, a town in Dagestan, earlier today. Russian officials have confirmed that at least five people were killed and four more wounded.
The Islamic State’s Caucasus Province claimed responsibility for two attacks in Dagestan on Mar. 29 and Mar. 30. Russian officials have confirmed that explosions occurred on those days, but the government’s version of events differs from the Islamic State’s claims.
The Islamic Caucasus Emirate (ICE) has lost its third emir in just over a year and half. Magomed Suleimanov, also known as Abu Usman Gimrinsky, was publicly announced as the group’s leader on July 1. Just over a month later, Russian counterterrorism forces killed him.
The State Department has added Aliaskhab Kebekov (also known as Ali Abu Muhammad al Dagestani), who heads the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. State notes that Kebekov has proclaimed his organization’s “structural subordination” to al Qaeda.
The Ansar al Din Front in Syria has released a statement mourning the death of Harith al Nadhari, a sharia official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in a US drone strike on Jan. 31. The statement is further evidence that Ansar al Din is, at a minimum, closely allied with al Qaeda’s international network.
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The bombing, which was likely executed by the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, took place in a region where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, and is the second suicide attack in Volgograd since October.
Islamist militants affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate appear determined to wreak havoc in advance of Russia’s planned Winter Olympics in Sochi.
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One of the Boston Marathon bombers made a trip to Dagestan and Chechnya last year. US officials are investigating whether or not he made contact with jihadist groups operating in the region. The investigation is ongoing.
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