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Chechnya’s top terrorist un-retires

Do terrorists get to retire? Apparently not.  After announcing that he was stepping down in an online video a few days ago, Chechen separatist leader Dokku Umarov has now reversed that decision in a follow-up video.  "Due to the situation in the Caucasus I consider that it is impossible for me to quit my duties," ...

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Do terrorists get to retire? Apparently not. 

After announcing that he was stepping down in an online video a few days ago, Chechen separatist leader Dokku Umarov has now reversed that decision in a follow-up video. 

"Due to the situation in the Caucasus I consider that it is impossible for me to quit my duties," Umarov said in a video posted on rebel websites and Youtube.

Umarov, whose group claimed the attacks on the Moscow metro that killed 40 people this year, said earlier this week he had grown tired and was stepping down in favour of a younger militant successor named Aslambek Vadalov.

"The previous declaration is annulled. It is a falsification," said Umarov, also known by his nom-de-guerre of Abu Usman, leaning on an automatic weapon.

"I declare that my health is good to serve Allah. And I will serve the word of Allah and work to kill the enemies of Allah in all the time that he gives me to live on this earth."

Umarov did not explain the confusion.

Over at Window on Eurasia, analyst Paul Goble sees the reversal as evidence of a split between the Islamist and Chechen nationalist factions of the movement. Umarov, who has proclaimed himself Emir of the North Caucasus, has worked to identify the Chechen cause with global jihadism. (And also given Vladimir Putin a convenient way to portray Russia’s brutal campaign in Chechnya as part of the global war on terror. Vadalov, Umarov’s chosen successor, may have been motivated more by Chechen nationalism, making Umarov or his Islamist supporters wary about trusting him with the future of the movement. 

It’s interesting to wonder if Umarov would find it easier to step down if not for the June arrest of the Emirate’s second-in-command, Ali Taziyev. 

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