Passport

The transformation of Doku Umarov

Radio Free Europe’s Liz Fuller has a useful profile of Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader who has taken responsibility for this week’s Moscow subway bombings. Most interesting is Umarov’s evolution from a Chechen nationalist to Islamist: [I]n late 2007, Umarov broke with the ideology of Chechen independence and proclaimed himself, reportedly under pressure from ...

Radio Free Europe’s Liz Fuller has a useful profile of Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader who has taken responsibility for this week’s Moscow subway bombings. Most interesting is Umarov’s evolution from a Chechen nationalist to Islamist:

[I]n late 2007, Umarov broke with the ideology of Chechen independence and proclaimed himself, reportedly under pressure from the radical Islamist wing of the insurgency, the leader of an Islamic state encompassing the entire North Caucasus. Just two months earlier, he had issued a statement commemorating the anniversary of the declaration in September 1991 of the secession of the Chechen Republic-Ichkeria from the rapidly disintegrating USSR.

At least until Maskhadov’s death, Umarov, like Maskhadov, was among the more moderate wing of the resistance that eschewed terrorism against civilians. In his 2005 interview with RFE/RL, he categorically rejected the use of terrorism as a tactic: "If we resort to such methods, I do not think any of us will be able to retain his human face." He specifically condemned the Beslan school hostage taking of September 2004.

But more recently Umarov has condoned not only sabotage attacks on civilian targets outside the North Caucasus, but also suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism targeting civilians.

 

 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating