Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"Ibrahim Alauri", the munafiq responsible for the betrayal and death of Khattab

The man highlighted in the photos below is alleged to be "Ibrahim Alauri", the munafiq responsible for the betrayal and death of Khattab - a close associate of Khattab that had been "turned" by the Russian FSB Intelligence (the other guy in the photo is Amir Elsi ("Elsi The Red") - Khattab's trusted bodyguard):

Here are the details of the poisoning operation conducted by he FSB that resulted in Khattab's death:

Originally Posted by Jamestown Intelligence
Qatar Information agency cited a decision by the Chechen rebels' supreme military council (shura), headed by Shamil Basaev, to execute Khattab's alleged killer. He was identified as Ibrahim Alauri, a resident of Dagestan and an ethnic Avar. According to this report, Alauri was responsible for the poisoned letter that killed the Saudi-born warlord, apparently five minutes after he received it. The report did not indicate, however, whether Alauri had delivered the letter to Khattab himself. According to leaflets distributed by the rebels in Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital, Alauri was accused of treason and collaboration with Dagestani intelligence and sentenced to die by firing squad. The sentence appears to have been carried out sometime in mid-May 2002

Originally Posted by Times
HE was one of Russia’s most dangerous enemies, a warlord renowned for cunning and savagery who rarely left his remote mountain hideout and was always surrounded by six bodyguards. To the secret services, his assassination seemed impossible — until they thought of sending him a message.

The family of Khattab, a Saudi exile who became the most notorious rebel leader in Chechnya, has now confirmed that he died on March 20 after handling a letter contaminated with fast-acting poison. The Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, is quietly celebrating its ingenuity and the demise of an Islamic fanatic linked to Osama Bin Laden.

Chechen rebels said Khattab, whose real name was Samer bin Saleh al-Suwailem, died within five minutes of receiving an envelope delivered by Ibrahim Alauri, a trusted figure who had been turned by the FSB.

According to toxicologists in Moscow and London, the envelope may have been sprayed with a neurotoxin that was absorbed through the skin, rapidly causing a heart attack or suffocation.

The FSB broke its silence on the assassination after receiving a lengthy video, shot by Khattab’s bodyguards, which shows him being lowered into a grave in the bleak mountains. The film was shot for propaganda, to raise funds from the Arab world. It opens with footage of Khattab speaking to the camera, boasting in Arabic of his achievements in wars against the Russians.

Obtaining the tape appears to have been another triumph for the security services, which had been tipped off by Chechen double agents that it was to be smuggled out by Khattab’s most trusted bodyguard, Ilyas Isayev, nicknamed “Elsi the Red”.

“We waited for Elsi and ambushed him in the mountains,” said an FSB officer last week. “We killed him and retrieved the tape.”

The Chechens say they have killed Alauri but are still looking for two Saudi nationals involved in the assassination.

The FSB released few details of its operation for fear of compromising future assassinations. “It was top secret and took a year to plan. To mount a military attack on Khattab’s hideout would have led to heavy casualties, so we had to be more creative,” the officer explained. FSB agents had taken advantage of divisions within Khattab’s camp to recruit “people who could get so close to him as to be able to kill him”. The agency has attempted similar operations before, but the attack on Khattab indicates a new level of sophistication. “It is technically quite possible to be killed by poison put on paper,” said Oleg Kalugin, a cold war defector who now lives in America.

“I recall in the old Soviet days the KGB planned to assassinate some people by putting poisonous gel on the door handle of a car.”

Khattab’s death compounds the mystique of one of the region’s most enigmatic characters. He was born into a wealthy family and studied in America. But after working briefly for an oil company he heeded the call of the jihad and went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion alongside thousands of Arab volunteers — including Bin Laden, who called him a good man.

In 1993, four years after the Soviet withdrawal, Khattab went to Tajikistan to join Islamic guerrillas fighting the Russian-backed government. In 1995 he led a small group of Arab fighters into Chechnya, apparently inspired by CNN reports of the war with the Russians. He quickly rose to prominence through a video that showed him walking in triumph among charred bodies.

He was ruthless in battle, taking no prisoners and severing captives’ heads with a kinzhal, a traditional Chechen sword.

Now that the FSB has eliminated one of its greatest foes, it is encouraging the Americans hunting Bin Laden to follow their example and use a combination of intelligence and treachery to strike at the heart of Al-Qaeda.

« Khattab's Last Interview »

«The time has come to get free from these slaves...»

Not too long before his death, Chechen Commander Amir Khattab gave an interview to one of the Arabic Internet editions Waislamah. We would like to offer you the translation of this interview, where the Chechen Commander expresses his point of view on the ongoing events in Ichkeria and in the Arab countries.

Question: What is the military situation in Chechnya like nowadays?

Khattab: Russian leadership and army have despaired of victory in Chechnya. They also despaired of killing the Mujahideen and their Commanders. Everybody saw monkey Putin on TV, when he summoned Christian priests and demanded the Church to help wounded Russian soldiers, whose number reaches thousands and thousands. Praise Allah, Who helps us in our deed...

Question: There was a report that you were seriously wounded, and that Russian soldiers are besieging the Mujahideen.

K: Yes, I was wounded. However, with the help of Allah we will be killing our enemies and we ourselves will die, but there is no way it will change the nature of our fight. We are really besieged every day, but we also besiege Russian forces every day. Russian leadership is a weak leadership, which makes a show of its any smallest victory and makes the whole world laugh at that, claiming that it is successfully fighting «terrorism». Concerning the Commanders being wounded. When any Chechen Commander is wounded, it means that he fights shoulder to shoulder with his soldiers, unlike Russian commanders or other traders of blood in other places. The enemies of Allah, generals, commanders and soldiers are working for their government: if their commander gets killed or the government resigns, it has a negative affect on their morale. Unlike them, the Mujahideen are fighting in the name of Allah, and Allah is eternal. Death of one of the Commanders only increases the inspiration and the morale of the Mujahideen.

Question: Why, in your opinion, Russian Army has not won this war yet?

K: First, praise be to Allah! Second, that's because of the persistence and courage of Chechen Mujahideen and Amirs in their intention to continue this war against the enemy. From day one the Chechen people have been ready to fight till the end to get rid of the power of Russian regime, which contradicts Islam. The army, that fights with no faith or purpose, will never win. Russian leadership was trying to inspire their generals, officers and soldiers with the claims that this war is a war against «terrorism» and against «bandits» by distributing fake video footage. Those video films were demonstrating the horrors that are ascribed to the Chechen Mujahideen: cutting off Russian hostages' fingers and ears, robberies, murders. There were also films shown about the explosions that shook Russian cities. However, not too long ago there was a documentary film shown that proves that Russian secret services were involved in those explosions and that they were forewarned about them. Russian officers and mercenaries who got paid big money are behind the explosions.

Question: What is the morale and fighting spirit among the Mujahideen and their Commanders?

K: Praise Allah, our spirit is high, higher than ever. Every day we observe funerals of Russian officers and generals in Moscow. Russian troops suffer humiliations every day. We know why we fight and for what purpose!

Question: How can the American military forces, that recently arrived in Georgia, affect the situation?

K: I don't think that their arrival down there will affect the situation in Chechnya. In Georgia there are mainly wounded Chechen soldiers and several Islamic humanitarian organizations that deal with them. Glory be to Allah, we don't need anything from Georgia. All we need is in the hands of our enemies, including Putin himself, and during combats we take what we need. Georgian leadership agreed to accept Chechen refugees and they are living up in the mountains, where Chechens have been living for centuries. None of them lives in Tbilisi. I think that Russia wants to cause friction between Georgian government and Chechens and thereby deprive Chechens of their external connections. I believe that if Georgian government intends to make any decision regarding Chechen refugees, it should announce such decision in advance.

As far as the Americans go, I don't think they are stupid enough to open up another front for themselves against the Chechen people. America has just started the war against Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and the planes just started to bring the dead bodies back home. America also has problems in Philippines, it also wants to start a war against Iraq. American economy is on the verge of a crisis, that's why the US armed forces landed in Georgia and Central Asia, in order to draw closer to Russian borders and to the oil fields of Caucasus and Central Asia.

Question: How and when do you think this war will be over?

K: From our point of view, we have already won. If we were not sure of that, we would not have kept fighting against Russian army, armed to its teeth. We will not retreat from our demands or our principles. We are standing for complete independence from Russia. The end of this war is important for the Russians, because this war costs them dearly. But for us this war means carrying out our duty before Allah and any end of this battle would be suitable for us: victory or paradise. With the help of Allah the victory is near, I don't think that Russian troops will remain in Chechnya.

How did the events of September 11 affect the help that you are receiving?

K: Some of those who were helping us changed their minds and started to doubt, but praise Allah, there are also many people left who are faithful to us. Muslims are helping us.

Question: What is your opinion on the situation in Palestine? What can you say to the Palestinian Mujahideen?

K: The events that accompany the Intifada in Palestine have proven to the entire world that in reality there are no such things as human rights, UN, or international court. Today Muslims need their own Muslim UN to solve the problems connected with Islam or Shari'ah. Islamic countries no longer have the right to maintain relations with the phoney Christian heretical organizations that conduct the policy of double standards. That Intifada has also proven that the Arab rulers are slaves of the West, slaves of money and slaves of vainglory. The time has come to get free from these slaves, who are not capable of making a single decision in the name of the victory of Islam. We all see Jewish terrorism against defenseless Muslims on TV every day, as well as that support provided by America. Arab rulers are not capable of making a single worthy decision that would put an end to the outrages committed by descendants of swine and monkeys, they are not even able to provide Palestinian Shaheed with ammunition or weapons. Today there is no greater disaster for Muslims than the power of these slaves. Arab rulers must be thrown off the necks of the Muslims, and the Jews of Israel will reap humiliation up until the Judgment Day, as Great Allah promised».

Al-Khattab: From Afghanistan to Dagestan

The Radical Islamic struggle against Russia in Chechnya and Daghestan, and the terrorist bombings in Moscow in the last weeks, have brought to light a new Islamic leader, a man known in Russia and the West as Al-Khattab. He is considered to be one of two guerrilla leaders involved in the present Islamist struggle, the other being the Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev.

To date not much is known about Khattab, and it would seem that he relishes this air of mystery about him. Even the name “Khattab” is probably a nickname. According to several Central-Asia sources his real name is Habib Abd al-Rahman. So far very few photos of him have been published. He is described as being round of face, with a wide flowing black beard, long frizzy hair often worn under a beret, and an ugly scar on his left forearm. Said to be currently 34 years of age, Khattab was born to a Saudi tribe residing in the border area between Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Jordan. Thus he is sometimes referred to as of Saudi origin and sometimes as a Jordanian citizen. That he once had plans to study in the United States implies that he comes from a wealthy family. He currently makes his home in Chechnya, where he is married to two Chechen women.

At the age of 19 Khattab was sent by his family to study in the USA, but it is unknown whether he ever arrived there. Fifteen years ago he appeared among the Arab volunteers in Afghanistan, and it seems that he moved there directly from his residence without beginning a course of study in the U.S.

The Road to Dagestan

In 1992 Khattab moved from Afghanistan to Tajikistan to fight with the Islamic opposition against the Communist-backed regime. In 1995 he moved to Chechnya, probably with a group of loyalists of Arab origin, and began training Chechen Islamists. He soon became famous for his bravery and for his repeated successes against Russian armored convoys. This success brought him closer to Shamil Basayev, then one of the Chechen rebel leaders. Basayev is now in partnership with Khattab, whose current title is Commander of the “Islamic Army of Dagestan” in the struggle for an Islamist Chechnya. Russian officials claimed in the media that Khattab is accompanied on every operation by two cameramen to record the engagement.

Khattab runs a training camp at Serzhen-Yurt in Chechnya, which allegedly trains not only Islamists from Chechnya and Dagestan, but from other countries as well. Just as in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Khattab and Basayev are but two of the leaders of various groups—some of which are in permanent rivalry with one another. Beside the personal disputes and the nature of the militants themselves, there are also religious and ideological disputes. It is believed that Khattab has already escaped three assassination attempts, the most recent in 1998.

On August 7th, Khattab led about 2,000 militants into Dagestan from his base in Chechnya. There he seized control of a number of villages and declared an Islamic republic. The rebels were forced back into Chechnya by Russian troops, only to return to Dagestan on September 5th. Khattab’s retreat and return coincided with the wave of terrorist explosions in Moscow.

Khattab and bin Ladin—partners or rivals?

Khattab is regarded as one of the main proponents of the Wahhabi movement, which in Central-Asia has championed one of the most extreme interpretations of Islamic Jihad, an interpretation developed in Afghanistan by the late Palestinian militant Dr. Abdallah Azzam. Azzam was the spiritual guide of Osama bin Ladin. However, Khattab—unlike some of the Arab Islamists who have led such groups in the past—is neither a religious figure nor a writer of ideology or religio-political commentary.

The Russian media in the days following the Moscow explosions, has made frequent mention of the connection between Khattab and Osama bin Ladin, who is said to have provided both financial aid and manpower to the Islamic rebels in Chechnya and in Afghanistan. Russian officials also claim that financial aid is flowing to the rebels from many sources in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and radical organizations in Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan. Some officials have accused Georgia and Azerbaijan of supplying weapons to the Islamic rebels.

There are a number of mysteries surrounding Khattab, not the least of which is his relationship with the other Chechen rebels and with Osama bin Ladin. The source of his finances is obscure. There is also undoubtedly a good deal of disinformation concerning him.

A Russian connection?

One of the most interesting puzzles is his relationship with Russian officials. According to the Russian newspaper Izvestiya (June 15th 1999), men from Khattab’s force were seen in Moscow two months before the bombings. They purportedly came to Moscow to buy uniforms and carried a license for such purchases from the Interior ministry, the Federal Security Service and the Emergency Ministry. This and other similar transactions with the Interior Ministry raise the question of whether Khattab has some official patronage in Moscow.

It is no secret that there is a dispute in the Russian government between several factions as to the reaction to the Islamic struggle in Central-Asia. Each of these factions has its own media, the control of which it shares with rival tycoons and businessmen, and this too is a veritable hothouse for disinformation. In addition, there are Russian businessmen with financial interests in Chechnya, and there is always the possibility that part of this money is used to finance terrorism as well. According to the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat (September 17th), the Russian television network NTV, owned by Vladimir Gussinsky, published a recording of a phone talk between Gussinsky’s greatest rival, businessman Boris Birrizowsky, and “one of the Chechen extremists.” The later urged Birrizowsky to send $2.5 million to support the “terrorist groups.” Birrizowsky in his turn denied the report and blamed his rival for “collaborating with the rebels.”

Some of the Russian media have tried hard to connect Khattab directly with the Moscow explosions, like the Weekly Novaya Gazeta, which wrote a week ago that “Khattab has sworn on the Qor`an to pay each participant in the bombing campaign up to $50,000.” In an interview with NTV, Vyacheslav Izmailov, the author of the Gazeta article claimed that Khattab had recruited ethnic Slavs—including former Russian military personnel—for the terrorist campaign, and had divided them into groups sent to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov.

On the other hand, the Russian Interior Minister claimed in a phone conversation with Lewis Frye the head of the FBI on September 9th that it was Osama bin Ladin who was responsible for the bombings in Moscow. Yet it seems likely that this was merely an excuse to motivate the Americans to engage in more extensive information gathering in the case, since it is known that the Americans are seeking bin Ladin’s shadow and fingerprints everywhere in the world.

Threats and denials

In an interview with Greg Myre of the Associated Press published on September 14th, Khattab stated that “From now on they will get our bombs everywhere. Let Russia await our explosions blasting through their cities. I swear we will do it.” That interview was held between 9-13 September. On September 14th, Khattab told the Interfax news agency in Grozny that he had nothing to do with the Moscow explosions. He was quoted as saying, “We would not like to be akin to those who kill sleeping civilians with bombs and shells.”

It should be noticed that so far Khattab, like his partner Shamil Basayev, have spoken only of the struggle against Russia and their goal of reconstructing the Islamic state of 19th century Dagestan on a Wahhabi foundation. Until now they do have never used the language of bin Ladin or other Arab Islamists who talk about a global Islamic struggle against the West, the U.S. or the Jews. This, by the way, may mean that so far they have no real ties or obligations to bin Ladin and his Front, and are financby Wahhabi sources in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. It should also be noted that Khattab’s name did not appear in the intensive investigation of bin Ladin’s network and organization following the bombing of the American embassies in Africa in August 1998. Bin Ladin was indeed quoted several times in recent months as supporting the Chechen struggle, and is even claimed to have twice visited Chechnya during 1999. However, there is as yet no real information as to whether his support of the Chechen or their Islamist allies is more than verbal or ideological.

Khattab also did not appear until recently in the Arab media, including the Islamist media that had reported on Central-Asia and the Islamic struggle there. It would seem that until now he really had no connections with the Arab radical Islamist struggles, not even on the Saudi or Jordanian scene. Whether this will remain true following his recent notoriety is anyone’s guess.


Khattab's profile:

Amir (Commander) Khattab was a native of Saudi Arabia. His father is a Saudi. The family of Khattab belongs to one of the most ancient clans of Arabia. His mother is Turkish and a native of Turkey. Khattab has many relatives. Back home his family is respected and considered pretty wealthy. According to some information, Khattab has 8 brothers. When he was 15, his parents decided to send him to the United States to study. But the young man left the family and motivated his decision by the right to make his own choice and take part in Jihad, according to the Shari'ah. Even though his older brother was trying to talk him out of it, Khattab left for Afghanistan as a volunteer. For several years he was fighting against the troops of Soviet invaders. This is where he was wounded. After the Soviet troops withdrew, Khattab returned home. But soon after that he went back to Afghanistan to help Tajik and Uzbek refugees. As Khattab himself said, in December 1994 he found out about the war in the Caucasus from CNN reports. He knew nothing about Chechnya before that, except for the stories about Imam Shamil, who is buried in Medina. Khattab was telling that he made a decision to go to Chechnya after he saw on TV how Chechen Mujahideen were proclaiming «Allah Akbar!» (God is Great!). Khattab arrived to Chechnya with two of his companions in the spring of 1995, and had not left Chechnya ever since.

Khattab was an active participant of war operations against the troops of Russian invaders, starting March 1995 until March 2002. In 1996 on the order from President of CRI he was appointed as Chief of Military Training Center of Central Front of CRI Armed Forces. Khattab held the post of the Military Commander of Majlis al-Shura of the Mujahideen of Ichkeria and Dagestan. He was the Deputy of Shamil Basayev (Amir of Majlis al-Shura). Khattab was in command of the Islamic International Brigade. He was granted the highest awards of the Chechen State. Married to a Darginian woman, a native of the village of Karamakhi, Dagestan, and has two children.
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This article was originally appeared in Azzam Publications August, 1999

Commander of the Foreign Mujahideen in the Caucasus

Nickname or 'nom de guerre': Ibn-ul-Khattab, also known as Khattab
Real name: Undisclosed
Position: Ameer (Commander) of the Foreign Mujahideen Forces in the Caucasus
Born: 1970
Nationality: GCC Member State in the Arabian Gulf
Languages spoken: Arabic, Russian, English, Pushto
Birthplace: Arabian Gulf
Experience in Jihad: 12 years
Lands of Jihad visited: Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya

"If you would have told me in Afghanistan that a day will come when we will be fighting the Russians INSIDE Russia, I would never have believed you."

Born in the Arabian Gulf, Khattab was brought up in a relatively wealthy and educated family. He grew up to be a brave and strong teenager, who was known to be daring and fearless. After mastering the English language, he obtained a place in an American High School in 1987. 1987 was the peak of the Afghan Jihad against the invading army of the (then) Soviet Union. Youngsters from all over the Muslim world were flocking to Afghanistan after responding to the calls of Jihad made by Islamic personalities such as Sheikh Abdullah Azzam (assassinated 1989), Sheikh Tamim Adnani (died 1988) and Usama bin Ladin. Miraculous accounts of heroic feats and daring displays of valour against the World Superpower were reaching the ears of the Muslims. As the time approached for him to leave for a new life of education in the U.S., Khattab decided to follow many of his friends and relatives to Afghanistan for a short visit. Since the day he waved good-bye to his parents and family, at the end of 1987, he has never returned home since.

One of the Mujahideen describes the young teenage Khattab who arrived at his first training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan:

"The training camp near Jalalabad was full of brothers coming and leaving almost every day. We were preparing for a large operation against the Russians and those brothers who had completed their training were packing their bags and leaving the camp to go to the front-line. As we were preparing to leave for the front-line, a group of new recruits arrived. It was then that I noticed a young teenage boy amongst the new recruits: 16-17 years old, with long hair and a beard that had not yet begun to grow fully yet. Immediately, he went to the commanders of the training camp and starting pleading with them to let him go to the Front-line. The commanders obviously refused to send a young untrained boy to the Front without any training. I went over, greeted him and asked him his name. He replied, 'Ibn-ul-Khattab'"

Khattab completed his training and then went to the Front. One of his trainers was Hassan As-Sarehi, the Commander of the famous Lion's Den operation in Jaji, Afghanistan, 1987. [Hassan As-Sarehi has been imprisoned in Ar-Ruwais Concentration Camp, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia since 1996 on allegations of a crime whose accusees have already been executed.] Over the next six years, this young boy was to turn into one of the bravest and most formidable Mujahideen commanders that the world has known in the 20th Century. He was known for his refusal to duck from oncoming fire and his refusal to show pain after an injury. From ambushes to operations to raids, he fought the Soviet Regular and Special Forces, being present in all the major operations in the Afghan Jihad between 1988 and 1993, including the conquests of Jalalabad, Khost and Kabul. He escaped death on a number of occasions, as it his time had not yet arrived.

One of the Mujahideen describes how Khattab was once shot in the stomach by a 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun bullet in Afghanistan. (12.7mm ammunition is used to pierce armour and to break through fortified positions: it makes mincemeat out of human flesh, as any military expert will testify.):

"During one of the operations, we were sitting in the room of a small house in the Second Line. It was evening time and the fighting on the Front Line was very tough. A few moments later, Khattab entered the room; his face was looking pale, but other than that he seemed to act normal. He came in, walked very slowly to the other side of the room and sat down next to us. Khattab was unusually quiet, so the brothers sensed that something must be wrong, even though he did not even flinch once nor show any signs of pain. We asked him if he had got hurt; he replied that on the Front, he had received a light injury, nothing serious. One of the brothers then went over to him to see the injury. Khattab refused to let him see, adding that the injury was nothing serious. This brother forced Khattab to let him see and then felt his hand on Khattab's abdomen. He saw that his clothes were soaked with blood and he was bleeding heavily. We then immediately called a vehicle and rushed him to the nearest field hospital, during which he was complaining all the time that the injury was light and nothing serious."

It was in Afghanistan that Khattab lost two fingers of his right hand whilst attempting to throw a homemade grenade. The grenade exploded in his hand and two of his fingers were severed by the explosion. His fellow Mujahideen tried to persuade him to go to Peshawar for medical attention, but Khattab refused, insisting that putting some honey on the wound (like the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad SAWS) and bandaging it will do the job and that there is no need to go all the way to Peshawar. His fingers have remained in a similar bandage ever since that day.

As the Soviet Army withdrew from Afghanistan and the Communists were defeated by the Mujahideen, Khattab and a small group of friends heard about the war against the same enemy, but this time in Tajikistan. He then packed his bags and went over to Tajikistan in 1993 with a small group of brothers. Two years they stayed there fighting the Russians in snowy, mountainous terrain with a lack of proper weapons and ammunition.

After two years in Tajikistan, Khattab returned with his small group to Afghanistan, early in 1995. It was at this time that the war in Chechnya had just begun and everyone was confused as to the religious inclinations of the Chechens and the religious significance of this war.

Khattab describes his feelings when he saw the news about Chechnya on satellite television one evening in Afghanistan:

"When I saw groups of Chechens wearing headbands with 'La ilaha illalah...' (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) written on them, and shouting takbeers (Allahu-Akbar), I decided that there was a Jihad going on in Chechnya and I must go there."

From Afghanistan, Khattab travelled with a group of eight of his fellow Mujahideen, direct to Chechnya, arriving there in the Spring of 1995. The next four years were to make Khattab's exploits in Afghanistan and Tajikistan look like games in a nursery playground. According to official Russian statistics, more Russian soldiers were killed in three years of the war in Chechnya than were killed in the entire ten-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Khattab was joined by a few more of his fellow Mujahideen from Afghanistan and they set about training the local Chechens in both military warfare and Islamic knowledge. They carried out a number of daring operations against the Russians inside Chechnya (Khartashoi, 1995; Shatoi, 1996; Yashmardy, 1996) and Russia itself (Dagestan, 1997 and now, 1999).

One of his most daring operations was the Ambush of Shatoi on 16 April 1996, in which he led a group of 50 Mujahideen to annihilate a convoy of 50 Russian vehicles leaving Chechnya. Official Russian military sources said that 223 Russian soldiers were killed (including 26 senior officers) and every single vehicle was destroyed. This operation led to the sacking of two or three senior Russian Generals in Moscow and Boris Yeltsin announced news of the operation to the Russian Parliament. Five of the Mujahideen were martyred in that operation. The entire operation was filmed and clips and photographs of it can be seen at http://www.azzam.com in the Photo Library section.

A few months after that, his group carried out a raid on a Russian Army barracks, destroying Russian helicopter gunships with AT-3 Sagger wire-guided anti-tank missiles. Again, this entire operation, including the destruction of the helicopters was filmed.

A group of his fighters also participated in the famous Grozny offensive of August 1996, led by Shamil Basayev.

He also came to the scene on 22 December 1997, in which he led a group of 100 Chechen and Foreign Mujahideen 100km inside Russian territory and attacked the headquarters of the 136 Motorised Rifle Brigade of the Russian Army. 300 Russian vehicles were destroyed and scores of Russian troops were killed. Two Mujahideen were killed in this operation, including one of Khattab's senior most commanders from Afghanistan, Commander Abu Bakr Aqeedah.

After the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Chechnya in the Autumn of 1996, Khattab was proclaimed a national hero in Chechnya. He was presented with a medal of courage and bravery by the Chechen Government and assigned an official rank of General, in a ceremony attended by Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev, the most brilliant commanders of the Chechen war. Before General Jawhar Dudayev was killed, he held Khattab in the utmost respect. This was a respect earned by his actions, not by his words.

Khattab believes in the Jihad of media. He was once reported as saying: "Allah orders us to fight the disbelievers as they fight us. They fight us with media and propaganda, so we should also fight them with our media." For this reason, he is insistent on filming each and every one of his operations. It is said that he possesses a library of hundreds of video cassettes from Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Chechnya. He believes that words alone are not enough to answer false claims of the enemy's media: video footage must answer those claims. He has also taken extensive video footage of the destruction of the Russian forces in the recent Dagestan operation, August 1999, which shows hundreds of Russian dead, several times more than the 'official' Russian figure of 40 soldiers killed. This video can be found in the Jihad in Chechnya section of Azzam Publications's web-site.

Khattab has been likened by many Muslims as the 'Khalid bin Waleed of our times'. He firmly believes that his death will only come at the time written and appointed by Allah, not a minute earlier and not a minute later. He has escaped death and assassination attempts on many occasions, the closest of which was when he was driving a four tonne Russian truck, which was bombed by the Russians. The truck was blown to pieces as was his passenger, but Khattab survived without a scratch.

He is intelligent, brave and has a strong personality. He is well-liked by his soldiers, but known as someone you cannot play games with. He regularly checks upon his soldiers, solving any personal problems they have and giving them money from his own pocket to go and spend in the shops. He has a team of highly-trained and experienced commanders, each one of whom is capable of taking over his role were he to be killed.

In an advice to the Muslims around the world, he once said:

"The main thing that prevents all of us from coming to Jihad is our families. All of us who came here, came without our family's permission. If we had listened to our families and gone back home, who would carry on this work that we are doing? Every time I telephone my mother, even now she asks me to come home, even though I have not seen her for the last 12 years. If I was to go back to visit my mother, who would continue this work?"

Khattab's ambition is to carry on fighting the Russians until they leave every piece of Muslim land, from the Caucasus to the Central Asian Republics. He once said: "We know the Russians and we know their tactics. We know their weak points; and that is why it is easier for us to fight them than to fight other armies."

False media propaganda has accused Khattab of carrying out terrorist acts around the world. Anyone who has read this article with an unbiased mind will know that Khattab's nature is to confront the enemy face to face. And if fighting soldiers and armies who destroy your peoples' lives, turn your women into widows and your children into orphans, amounts to terrorism, then let history bear witness that Khattab is a terrorist.

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Twenty years on, there is no Soviet Union, and what remains of it is being invaded by the Mujahideen forces created as a result of that invasion, which was perhaps the biggest mistake ever made by a Government in the 20th Century.

"A small group. They are the ones who carry ambitions for the Muslim Ummah. And an even smaller group from this small group. They are the ones who sacrifice their personal worldly interests in order to act upon those ambitions. And an even smaller group from this elite. They are the ones who sacrifice their souls and their blood in order to bring victory to these ambitions and convictions. So, they are a small group within a small group within a small group." [Shaheed Dr Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, assassinated 1989].

Dossier: Habib Abd al-Rahman (Khattab)

One of the world's great powers is being brought to its knees by a shadowy Islamic terrorist of Middle Eastern origin whose followers can strike targets at will and then seemingly disappear into thin air. No, he is not Osama bin Laden, but an enigmatic figure known to his followers and enemies alike as "Khattab."

Khattab, whose real name according to Russian newspapers is Habib Abd al-Rahman, is the head of the "Islamic Army of Dagestan," a force of 2,000 rebels aligned with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev who poured into Dagestan from Chechnya on August 7, seized control of a number of villages and then declared the establishment of an Islamic state.

After a week of bloody fighting with Russian government troops, the rebels retreated back into Chechnya on August 24, only to march back in during the first week of September. After Russian aircraft bombarded Islamist bases in Dagestan on September 3, Khattab declared that "the Mujahedeen of Dagestan are going to carry out reprisals in various places across Russia." The next day, a 300 kg (660 lb) bomb destroyed an apartment block housing military staff in the southern Dagestani city of Buinaksk, killing 64 people. Shortly thereafter, an explosion in a shopping center in central Moscow killed one person. On September 9, an explosion ripped through an apartment building in Moscow, killing 94 people. Four days later, another apartment building in the capital was hit, killing 118 people. Although Khattab has denied responsibility for the attacks, the timing of the blasts leaves little doubt in the eyes of Russian investigators.

Khattab, aged 34, was born in Jordan (though some sources say Saudi Arabia). Little is known of his early life, but it is believed that he briefly studied at an American University in the 1980's. Like bin Laden, Khattab joined a loosely associated "international brigade" of Islamist activists to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan about fifteen years ago. After the Soviet withdrawal, Khattab moved on to other fronts in the Islamist struggle against Moscow. In 1992, he joined Islamist guerrillas in Tajikistan in their fight the Communist-backed regime in Dushanbe. In 1995, he went to Chechnya, where he supervised the establishment of training camps for Chechen Islamists. His daring ambushes against Russian armored columns won him the respect and admiration of Basayev and other Chechen field commanders.

Khattab and Basayev share a common dream of creating an Islamic state to "free all Moslems in the Caucasus"-- a goal which far transcends the local conflict in Chechnya and Dagestan.

Obituary: Chechen rebel Khattab

Khattab's vow has been to drive Russia out of Chechnya

The death of the Chechen rebel commander known as Khattab may be the rebel side's heaviest loss since their leader Dzhokhar Dudayev died in a missile attack in 1996.

Chechen rebel sources have confirmed his death, saying he was killed by a poisoned letter slipped him by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

The FSB has displayed pictures of his body, which they say were intercepted in Chechnya after the warlord's funeral.

His large frame and shaggy mane of beard and hair had become a familiar sight on both rebel websites and in the Russian media, where he was viewed as a symbol of Islamic extremism on a par with Osama Bin Laden.

For the FSB, he was an "international terrorist... an ideologist and organiser of terrorist activity".

For the Chechen rebels, this fighter from the Middle East may in time be remembered mainly for his skill in leading the guerrilla war against Moscow.

But for Khattab himself, the fight in Chechnya was always a struggle against enemies of his vision of Islam - a vision which took him around Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union in pursuit of battle.

Afghanistan to Chechnya

Khattab, whose real name is said to be Omar Ibn al Khattab, is believed to have been born in Jordan to a tribe living near the border with Saudi Arabia.

He spoke of fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan and is believed to have gone on to take part in wars fought in mainly Muslim parts of the former Soviet Union such as Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

He was also said to have founded a training camp for Islamic fighters along the lines of camps in Afghanistan.

"Tens of thousands of Muslims perish daily worldwide - not thousands, but millions of Muslims are killed," Khattab said in a recent website interview.

The Russian Government has accused Khattab of links with Osama Bin Laden's group but the commander said he had not seen him since his years in Afghanistan.

Asked about 11 September, he said the principal reason for it appeared to be US foreign policy.

"In the eyes of the entire world, Israelis are killing Muslims, occupying their lands, don't act even upon resolutions of United Nations, and America helps Israel in it," he said.