Islamists in four Caucasus regions ‘pledge allegiance’ to Islamic State
Islamist militants in four regions of Russia’s Caucasus have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to a recording which was welcomed by IS after being posted online.
The news sparked fears that the jihadist group’s influence is growing among the region’s younger generation of Islamists, and that they may try to prove themselves by staging brutal attacks on Russian soil.
The voice recording posted on YouTube on Sunday said militants in Russia’s Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino- Balkaria regions had all sworn fealty to IS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi.
“We testify that all mujahedeen of the Caucasus ... are united in this decision and there are no disagreements among us on this issue,” the male voice says, listing the four Russian regions in the recording both in Arabic and Russian.
An IS spokesman on Tuesday welcomed the news, naming a young local warlord as the group’s Caucasus leader.
“We congratulate the soldiers of Islamic State in the Caucasus ... We congratulate them for making allegiance to the caliph,” Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in a recording of his own.
“He accepts your allegiance and names Sheikh Abu Moham- mad al- Qadari as the Caucasus.”
Photos on jihadist websites identified al- Qadari as Rustam Aselderov, a former “amir” for the Dagestan region in the Caucasus Emirate insurgent group who was ousted after pledging allegiance to Baghdadi in December, becoming the first major leader to do so in the Caucasus.
He is a “young man who represents what the insurgency is today” who has no serious religious education and is oriented towards jihad, said Varvara Parkhomenko, a consultant for the International Crisis Group ( ICG) and an expert on the North Caucasus.
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