Is­lamists in four Cau­ca­sus re­gions ‘pledge al­le­giance’ to Is­lamic State

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY MARIA ANTONOVA

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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