Monday, July 10, 2006

Shamil Basayev

[They got him today...]
Shamil Salmanovich Basayev
(Russian: Шамиль Салманович Басаев) (January 14, 1965July 9, 2006) was a Chechen separatist vice-president, Islamist guerrilla leader, self-described terrorist, and one of Chechnya's most famed contemporary national heroes. Since 2003, Basayev also used the pseudonym and title Abdallah Shamil Abu-Idris, Amir of the Brigade of Shahids 'Riyadus Salihiin'".

Shamil Basayev was responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on civilians and guerrilla attacks on security forces in and around Russia, most (in)famously the Moscow theater siege and the Beslan school siege, and was considered undisputed leader of the radical wing of the Chechen insurgency against the presence of Russian federal security forces and the rule of Kremlin-backed local government in Grozny, considered a foreign occupation by separatists.

Basayev's power only increased after the Russian assassination of the more moderate, nationalist Chechen guerrilla leader, president of the separatist government Aslan Maskhadov. Basayev was a recipient of the highest awards of the breakaway Chechen Republic of Ichkeria: "K'oman Siy" (honour of the nation) and "K'oman Turpal" (hero of the nation). He bore the title of Ichkerian Divisional General....


  • During the rebel withdrawal from Grozny in January 2000 Basayev lost a foot after stepping on a landmine while leading his men through a mine field. Somewhat morbidly, the operation to amputate his foot was videotaped and later televised by Russia's NTV network and Reuters, showing his foot being removed by doctors using a local anaesthetic while the shaven-headed Basayev watched impassively. Despite this injury, Basayev eluded Russian capture together with other rebels by hiding in forests and mountains. He welcomed assistance from foreign fighters from Afghanistan and other Islamic countries, encouraging them to join the Chechen cause.
  • In January 2002, Basayev's father Salman Basayev was reputedly killed by Russian forces.[2] This has not been independently confirmed. Shamil's younger brother, Shirvani, has been reported dead by the Russians in 2000. However, according to numerous accounts, actually living in exile in Turkey where he is involved in coordination of the activities of the diaspora.
  • Around November 2, 2002 Basayev said on a rebel website that he was responsible for the Moscow theatre siege. He also tendered his resignation from all posts in Maskhadov's deposed government apart from the reconnaissance and sabotage battalion. He defended the operation but asked Maskhadov for forgiveness for not informing him of it.
  • On December 27, 2002, Chechen suicide bombers rammed vehicles into the republic's government headquarters in Grozny, bringing down the four-storey building and killing about 80 people. Basayev claimed responsibility, published the video of the attack, and said he personally triggered the bombs by a remote control.
  • From June till August 2003 Basayev lived in the town of Baksan in nearby Kabardino-Balkaria. In August 2003, a skirmish took place between the rebels and policemen from Baksan, who came to check Basayev's house; the rebels managed to escape.


  • In 2004 Basayev was accused of commanding a raid on the Russian republic of Ingushetia. In fact, he was shown in a video made of the raid, in which he led a large group of militants. Around 90 people died in this attack; most of them local members of the Russian security forces, including Minister of Interior and the chief prosecutors.
  • On May 9, 2004 the pro-Russian Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov was killed in a bomb attack for which Basayev later claimed responsibility.
  • Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for the Beslan school siege in September 2004 in which over 350 people, most of them children, were killed and hundreds more injured. The Russian government has put a bounty of 300m rubles ($10m) for information leading to his capture. Basayev himself did not participate in the seizure of the school in Beslan, but claims to have organized and financed the attack, boasting that the whole operation cost only 8,000 euro. Newspaper reports have also linked his Ingush deputy, Magomet Yevloyev, to the Beslan attack.
  • Basayev also claimed responsibility for the attacks against civilians during the previous week, in which a metro station in Moscow was bombed, killing 10 people, and two airliners were blown up by suicide bombers, killing 89 people. [3] Basayev dubbed these attacks "Operation Boomerang," supposedily an act of revenge for death and destruction caused by the Russian forces in Chechnya.


  • On February 3, 2005, British Channel 4 announced that it would air Shamil Basayev's interview. In response Russian Foreign Ministry said that the broadcast could aid terrorists in achieving their goals and demanded that the British Government call off the broadcast. But the British Foreign Office replied that it could not intervene in affairs of a private TV channel and the interview was aired as scheduled. [4] The same day, Russian media reported that Shamil Basayev had been killed. It was the 6th such report about Basayev's demise since 1999.
  • In May, 2005, Basayev reportedly claimed responsibility for the power outage in Moscow. The BBC reports that the claim for responsibility was made on a web site connected to Basayev, but conflicts with official reports that sabotage was not involved.
  • Even though Basayev has a US$10 million bounty on his head, he gave an interview to Russian journalist Andrei Babitsky in which he describes himself as "a bad guy, a bandit, a terrorist." But, to justify his own acts to intentionally kill unarmed civilians, women and children, he claimed that the Russians "officially"' killed 40,000 Chechen children and are therefore terrorists as well [5]. This interview was broadcast on American Television Network ABC's Nightline program, to the protest of the Russian Government; on August 2, 2005, Moscow banned journalists from U.S. television channel ABC from working in Russia after the channel broadcast an interview. [6]
  • On August 23, 2005, Basayev rejoined the Chechen separatist government, taking the post of first deputy chairman.
  • Basayev claimed responsibility for a raid on Nalchik, the capital of Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. The raid occurred on 13 October and 14 October 2005. Basayev said that he and his "main units" were only in the city for two hours on the 13th, then left. There were reports that he had died during the raid, but this was contradicted when the rebel website, Kavkaz Center, posted a letter from him. [7]


  • In March 2006, Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that upwards of 3,000 police officers were hunting for Basayev in the southern mountains[8]
  • On June 15 Basayev repeated his claim of responsibility for the bombing that killed the Moscow-backed president, Akhmad Kadyrov, saying he paid $50,000 to those who carried out the assassination. The warlord also said he had put a $25,000 bounty on the head of Kadyrov's son, Ramzan. Basayev mocked Ramzan Kadyrov --a flamboyant prime minister in the regional government who heads widely feared paramilitary forces accused of abducting civilians and other violence-- in offering the bounty by saying: "He isn't worth more than that."
  • On June 27 Shamil Basayev was made the Ichkerian vice president, a rebel website said. [9]
  • On July 10 Shamil Basayev was confirmed to be killed in the village of Ekazhevo, in Ingushetia, a republic bordering Chechnya [10]. According to Russian FSB sources - he was riding in one of the cars escorting a truck filled with explosives, in preparation for another attack - as the result of explosion after a strike against this militant convoy - he was decapitated, and authorities sent his remains for DNA analysis to confirm his identity. Jihadi websites deny he was assassinated and claim the van exploded accidently. On Channel 4 News, Ahmed Zakayev, exiled separatist foreign minister, also denied Basayev was assassinated by Russian forces.

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