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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid