Russian rebel calls for jihad, praises Arab unrest

MOSCOW Fri Mar 4, 2011 2:11am IST

An undated still image taken from video shows the address of Chechen rebels, led by Emir of the Caucasus Doku Umarov (C). REUTERS/ TV/Files

An undated still image taken from video shows the address of Chechen rebels, led by Emir of the Caucasus Doku Umarov (C).

Credit: Reuters/ TV/Files

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Chechen-born rebel leader Doku Umarov, Russia's most wanted man, called on Muslims throughout the country to wage jihad against the state in videos posted on websites on Thursday.

He also urged the Arab world to usher in radical Islam during the resulting unrest.

A decade after federal forces drove separatists out of power in the second war in Chechnya, the Kremlin is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency throughout the North Caucasus, where rebels want to create a separate Islamic state.

"Spring has come, the end of February, so I ask you, brothers, to activate jihad, eliminate the enemies of Allah," Umarov said in an eight-minute, Russian-language video posted on several insurgency-affiliated sites.

"I want to appeal to those ... everywhere in Russia where there are Muslim brothers today ... I call on you to open up the front in all places," Umarov said. Sporting a long black beard, he was flanked by two men and was filmed in snow-covered woods.

The North Caucasus is home to half of Russia's 20 million Muslims, a seventh of the country's population. Experts say rebels are exporting the insurgency from its traditional centres ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Umarov, 46, in a separate video, urged his "brothers and sisters in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries" to "create a revolution, and by this I mean instating the word of Islam... the law of Allah".

Umarov's words mesh with fears expressed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev who have warned of the dangers of radical Islam being spread by Arab unrest and igniting more unrest in the North Caucasus.

Umarov, who styles himself the emir of the Caucasus, is believed to be hiding in the wooded peaks of Russia's North Caucasus mountains.

He has said he ordered the bombing in January of Russia's busiest airport in which 37 people were killed, as well as twin suicide bomb attacks on the Moscow metro last year in which 40 died.

Despite billions of dollars Moscow pours into the North Caucasus, President Dmitry Medvedev has said violence is increasing and political analysts say Europe's largest Islamist insurgency is gaining membership and size.

In a sign the insurgency could spread, Umarov said he wanted Russia's "occupied Muslim lands" such as the oil and petrochemicals producing regions of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, to join in jihad.

"This is a total war," he said before raising his index finger to the camera.

Muslim regions such as Bashkortostan, about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) northeast of Chechnya, have experienced isolated incidents of Islamist violence but not the near-daily shootings and bombs that ravage the North Caucasus.

A series of attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria, where rebels shot dead three Moscow tourists on their way to ski on Europe's highest peak Mount Elbrus last month, have shattered views of the province as an oasis of calm.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; editing by Michael Roddy)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Fighting Ebola


Fighting IS

Fighting IS

Turkey to let Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani as U.S. drops arms to defenders.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong students, officials set for first talks on political crisis.  Full Article 

Suffering Children

Suffering Children

Violence kills a child every five minutes, most outside war zones - U.N.  Full Article 

County In Turmoil

County In Turmoil

South Sudan sexual violence "rampant," 2-year-old raped - U.N.  Full Article 

Putin's Proposal

Putin's Proposal

Polish ex-minister quoted saying Putin offered to divide Ukraine with Poland.  Full Article 

Nuclear PactNuclear Investigation

Nuclear Investigation

UN nuclear chief suggests progress slow in Iran investigation.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage