Caucasians in the ranks of Islamic State (ISIL). (CaucasianKnot).
Different sources, including the Russia's FSB, have confirmed the information that militants from Russia are fighting for the Islamic State (IS) (earlier – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL), a self-proclaimed entity in the territory of Syria and Iraq. The material of the "Caucasian Knot" below tells about penetration of natives of the Caucasus into the conflict zone and provides estimates of the number of them.
"Islamic State": overviewThe organization "Islamic State" was created on October 15, 2006, as a result of the merger of 11 radical Sunni groupings. At the same time, they adopted a draft "Constitution" entitled "Notice to Mankind about Birth of Islamic State". Until 2013, its name was "Islamic State of Iraq" (ISI). The organization set a target to capture the Sunni part of Iraq and turn it into a militarized Islamic Sunni state, as soon as the forces of the international coalition led by the USA, left Iraq.
On April 9, 2013, the grouping named "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) was formed with the aim to establish an Islamic Emirate in the territory of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The Levant is a historical region in the eastern Mediterranean, which covers the territory of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey and Cyprus.
Starting June 2014, ISIL launched an attack on several areas of Northern Iraq by organizing a large-scale offensive in Sunni provinces. By October 2014, ISIL occupied one-third of Iraq.
The terrorist organization is made up of the militants who once fought against US forces during their stay in Iraq, and against the forces of the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
By September 2014, according to the estimates of the CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency), the membership of the grouping reached some 20,000-31,500 persons. The IS troops include Mujahideens from 80 countries, including France, UK, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, USA, Canada and Russia.
Since the moment of its inception, ISIL has been closely connected with the international terrorist network "Al-Qaeda", but in February 2014 the latter declared a break-off with the "Islamic State". The reason for the split was in the quarrel of the ISIL with the official branch of "Al-Qaeda" in Syria named "Djabkhat an-Nusra".
In late June 2014, the grouping changed its name and became known as just the "Islamic State". The establishment of Caliphate was proclaimed led by militants' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Abdullah Ibragim as-Samarai).
The "Islamic State" has been recognized as a terrorist organization by Australia, UK, Indonesia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, USA, Turkey and other countries.
On September 8, 2014, the grouping "Islamic State" was recognized as a terrorist organization by the League of Arab States. Besides, the "Islamic State" is subject to international sanctions in accordance with Resolutions of the UN Security Council passed against "Al-Qaeda" and its affiliated organizations.
Gennady Gatilov, a Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, in one of his speeches has treated the ISIL as an "extremist" organization involved in "terrorist activities".
On September 3, 2014, supporters of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" distributed the video record, in which they accused Russia of supplying weapons to Bashar al-Assad and threatened to start a war in the Caucasus.
Islamic State and natives of the Caucasus
How many natives of the Caucasus fight for "Islamic State"?In June 2013, Russian authorities admitted the participation of citizens of the Russian Federation in the conflict. The Russia's FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov expressed concern about the fact that some 200 militants from Russia were fighting for jihadists in Syria. The Chechen leadership also admitted that residents of the republic were taking part in the war in Syria. It was reported that from a few hundreds up to 1700 natives of Chechnya were at war in the region.
In September 2013, it became known that militants from Northern Caucasus formed a military unit named "Al-Mukhadjirin" (immigrants) in the city of Aleppo in Northern Syria. It was headed by a Chechen named Abu Abdurakhman. Most members of the unit had experience of fighting in the Caucasus.
In July 2014, Sergey Kamenny, the head of the FSB in Kabardino-Balkaria, said that more than 60 citizens of his republic were among the international terrorist groupings operating in Syria.
On September 3, 2014, supporters of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" spread a video with a threat to start a war in the Caucasus and "liberate the Caucasus by the mercy of Allah."
According to Sergey Smirnov, First Deputy Director of the FSB, some 300-400 mercenaries from Russia, now involved in the Syrian conflict, may come back to Russia.
According to Abu Umar al-Shishani, a field commander of Chechen origin, "500 Caucasians, who had fought against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, were killed." The al-Shishani's grouping, which is at war under the banner of the ISIL, has between 700 and 1000 members; among them there are several hundreds of Caucasians.
It is noteworthy that the authors of the information-analytical bulletin prepared by the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" report that the drop in the number of victims of the conflict in Northern Caucasus, noticed in 2014, was associated with the fact that part of radicals went to Syria. Read the full story here.