Claim of Responsibility in Russia Attack
Published: August 4, 2012
¶“On July 19, 2012, on my orders an operation was conducted against the enemies of Allah,” the guerrilla fighter, who identified himself as Muhammad, emir of the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, said in a video posted on an Islamist Internet site that focuses on the predominantly Muslim Caucasus region, includingChechnya.
¶In the video, he is shown sitting in the woods, with an automatic rifle propped against one knee. He specifically named the victims of the attack last month: Valiulla Yakupov, the cleric in charge of Islamic education in Tatarstan, who was shot and killed outside his home in Kazan, the regional capital; and Ildus Faizov, the chief mufti in the region, who survived a car-bomb attack less than an hour later.
¶“All praise Allah,” the jihadist, Muhammad, said in the video. “We believe the operation was a success.” He also warned of further violence against Muslim leaders who do not adhere to Shariah, the strict legal code of Islam based on the Koran.
¶“If any of the imams do not want or cannot carry out the points established by Shariah, they should leave their posts,” he said. “That way, you will be protected from the mujahedeen.”
¶Investigators in Tatarstan, who had already detained at least six people as part of the investigation into the attacks, released photographs on Saturday of two suspects whom they described as “extremely dangerous.” The men were identified as Robert R. Valeev, 35, and Rais R. Mingaleev, 36. “These people organized the killing,” officials said.
¶Mr. Valeev bears a resemblance to the man in the video, though the man in the photo is cleanshaven while the man on video has a beard.
¶The motive of the attacks appeared to be efforts by the two Muslim leaders to combat the spread of radical Islam in the region. Tatarstan has long prided itself on the generally peaceful coexistence of moderate Muslims and Christians. But the region, about 500 miles east of Moscow, has been struggling to cope with the rise of radical Islam, which is espoused by rebel fighters in the Caucasus.
¶President Vladimir V. Putin made reference to such radicalism on Thursday in discussing the case of three young women from a punk band called Pussy Riot who are being tried on charges of hooliganism for staging an unauthorized, profane performance on the altar of Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral.
¶Mr. Putin said he hoped the women would not be punished too harshly but suggested that the Orthodox Church had already shown more compassion under the circumstances than could be expected from other religions, including Islam. “If they had gone to the Caucasus — you don’t have to go far,” he said, “and desecrated some Muslim shrine — we would not even have had time to put them under our protection.”