Isis in Russia: Chechen jihadi group pledges allegiance to Islamic State
Isis has a new league of supporters, as it aims to expand its influence around the world. The leader of a Chechen terrorist group has personally pledged its allegiance to Isis commander-in-chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Aslan Byutukayev, leader of the Caucasus Emirate, pledge his allegiance to Isis in a new propaganda video, the Daily Mailreported. The terrorist group, which commands "as many as 15,000" in the Caucuses region of Russia, has carried out more than 900 attacks in Russia.
"We need to hurry up and unite so we can cut off the heads of the infidels," Byutukayev said in the video reportedly filmed in Chechnya.
According to the Daily Mail, the Caucasus Emirate has acted as an umbrella group for smaller terrorist organisations in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. The group is estimated to have around 15,000 soldiers, facilitators and leaders, author and professor Gordan Hahn said.
It was officially recognised as a terrorist organisation by the UK, US, Russia and the United Nations after a series of attacks between 2009 and 2014.
In May, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty hinted that the Caucasus Emirate could join Isis instead of the North Caucasus insurgency. The news followed reports that several Chechen and Daghestani commanders had retracted their oath of obedience to the newest Caucasus Emirate leader and instead pledged allegiance to Isis.
More than 400 Chechens have joined Isis in Syria and Iraq
More than 400 Chechen extremists have joined Isis in Syria and Iraq since 2011, the Russian Interior Ministry claims. Several of those fighters have been granted key roles in the organisation, including Omar Al-Shishani and Muslem Al-Shishani.
The Daily Mail reported images have emerged on social media portraying extremist holding "love letters" to Isis's leader in Chechnya. Isis fighters reportedly responded to the messages saying, "Be patient, o brothers and sisters...The day is not far off when the banner of Islam will hang and Shari'a law will be on the streets."
The message continued, "Heads will fly from those who tear off the hijab of the sisters and pluck the beards of the brothers."
Isis's influence in the Caucuses region of Russia is the latest indicator of its international appeal. A recently released video entitled "Soon, Soon" by "Isis Tunisia Province" showed that the terrorist organisation may have a new stronghold in Africa.