Interview with Umarov, North Caucasus Amir

The attention of Western analysts today was focused on Abu Yahya al-Libi’s statement on Somalia. I read it and there’s not a lot there. Basically, Libi says keep fighting, no matter who is in power, until an Islamic state is established.

More interesting is Kavkaz Center’s newly-released interview with Dokka Umarov, the amir of the North Caucasus Emirate that he declared at the end of 2007. Here’s what stands out:

  • The decision to declare an emirate was not taken lightly and occurred after much debate.
  • Umarov acknowledges that he has taken a lot of heat from fellow travelers for aligning himself ideologically with al-Qaeda and declaring war on the world.
  • The mujahids do control some territory, but their control is not absolute. Therefore, he does not want his supporters rushing to form a state.

The two translations, Arabic and English, diverge over what sort of state Umarov is talking about. In Arabic, he says he doesn’t want his supporters rushing to form an “actual state” (dawla fi`liyya). In English, he says he doesn’t want them rushing to form a “virtual state.” The difference is significant and if anyone can download the video and make out the right translation, I’d appreciate it. (The links to the video are in the Arabic translation below.)

Document (Arabic): 6-22-08-ekhlaas-umarov-interview-arabic

Document (English): 622-08-ekhlaas-umarov-interview-english

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4 Responses

  1. Will, ekhlaas really seemed to be highlighting his comments about the current ‘purification of the ranks.’ It makes one wonder if he is a) laying out a justification for a intercinine violence, b) providing an excuse for fissures caused by the decision to align with al-Qaeda, or c) offering a genuinely honest assessment of disunity that has existed for some time within the movement there? My research doesn’t focus on the Caucuses so I’m not familiar enough with the movement there to know how long this “purification” has been going on or what that looks like on the ground. I am curious as to whether last year’s decision to “go global” might not have been motivated by a need to reinvigorate a movement that is losing support and has dropped off the radar screen a bit (its glory days on Azzam.com seem almost quaint now).

  2. I believe he says “виртуальнoe государство” (virtual state) at 14:48 in the video.

    Also a newer interview with Doku and Shaykh Said Bur’atskiy (http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2008/06/19/58973.shtml.

    Only made it through Doku’s interview in which he mainly complains about people leaving the jihad to live among the kafirs and traitors. He does say that it really doesn’t matter and that they are stronger than ever.

    His buddy Bur’atskiy also says that now all Muslims are obliged to fight in the jihad after Doku’s early declaration and to help support the jihad “in word and possessions”

  3. Stephen, like you, I don’t focus on the Caucasus, so I can’t speak to your interesting “purification” observation. When Umarov declared the emirate and its transnational agenda, I assumed he was doing it to attract more Gulf money to his cause. But that certainly doesn’t invalidate other reasons, like low morale.

    Mike, thank you for your translation and the link to the other interview. By discouraging his supporters from declaring a virtual state, Umarov seems to be explicitly criticizing the Islamic State of Iraq, which a lot of Jihadis chastise for rushing to declare a dawla.

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