News / Europe

Chechen Militant Leader Vows 'Maximum Force' to Stop Sochi 2014

Screenshot from video posted on a pro-rebel Web site purports to show Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, March 2010 file photo.
Screenshot from video posted on a pro-rebel Web site purports to show Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, March 2010 file photo.
Reuters
Russian Islamist rebels urged followers on Wednesday to use "maximum force" to prevent President Vladimir Putin staging the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
 
In an online video recorded in a forest, Doku Umarov said an order not to attack Russian targets outside the North Caucasus had been cancelled and likened holding the Games in the Black Sea city to performing "Satanic dances" on the graves of Muslims killed fighting Russian forces there in the 19th century.
 
Umarov sat wearing camouflage fatigues and a cap in front of a black jihadist flag, flanked by two fighters who, like him, were bearded. As he spoke, birds could be heard singing in the forest.
 
Sochi, which is due to host the Games next February, is a few hundred kilometers [miles] from the volatile and mountainous North Caucasus region in southern Russia where there is almost daily violence. But it was the homeland of ethnic Circassians until they were expelled in the 19th century.
 
Putin has promised tight security at the Games, on which Russia is spending more than $50 billion, and sees it as a chance to show the world what his nation can achieve.
 
"They [Russia] plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea, and we as mujahedeen are obliged to not permit that, using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah," Umarov said in the four-minute video on www.kavkazcenter.com.
 
"I call on you, every mujahid, either in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan or on the territory of the Caucasus to use maximum force on the path of Allah to disrupt this Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors," he said, referring to predominantly Muslim regions in Russia that are far from the North Caucasus.
 
The Kremlin declined comment on the video, the authenticity of which could not immediately be established. Umarov has, however, regularly used the Web site to send messages to the Islamic fighters he refers to as mujahedeen.
 
Russia's most wanted man, Umarov leads a group called the Caucasus Emirate which has taken responsibility for organizing many attacks, including suicide bombings which killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in 2011 and at least 40 people on the Moscow subway in 2010.
 
Putin expressed concern last year that violence involving Muslims could spread to Tatarstan, in central Russia, after the top Muslim official there was wounded in a bomb attack.
 
End of moratorium on attacks

In February 2012 Umarov ordered a moratorium on attacks on Russian targets outside the North Caucasus and called for a halt on attacks that would harm civilians, but made clear in the new video that this order had been rescinded.
 
The order was issued at the height of a protest movement against Putin's more than decade-long rule and before last year's presidential election, which Putin won.
 
But the protests have dwindled and Russia has killed a number of insurgency leaders including Umarov's right-hand man in the Ingushetia region.
 
The North Caucasus, a patchwork of mainly Muslim territories between the Black and Caspian Seas, is torn by political and religious differences, as well as bitterness over the past.
 
Many ethnic Circassians, an indigenous people of the North Caucasus, were killed or expelled by Russian Imperial soldiers in the 19th century in and around Krasnaya Polyana, the planned site of Olympic skiing events.
 
Putin has long taken a tough stance against violence in the region after two wars between the Russian army and Chechen separatists. In the second of those wars, from 1999 to 2000, Putin burnished his reputation as an uncompromising leader.
 
Wary of violence spilling over at the Games, Russia has stepped up cooperation with the United States over security since the Boston bombings, in which two ethnic Chechens are the main suspects. One spent time in the region before the bombings.
 
"Umarov is announcing this now to increase the Caucasus Emirate's visibility by using Sochi, which has attained international recognition before the Olympic Games," said an expert on the region, Mairbek Vatchagayev.
 
Analysts are divided over the Caucasus Emirate's ability to carry out a large-scale bomb attack on Sochi but Umarov has been under pressure from some of his supporters to repeal the moratorium on attacks outside the North Caucasus.
 
"There is enough time to try to plan a terrorist attack and to carry it out," Vatchagayev said.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid