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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid