From Reuters, with thanks to Nicolei, an update on the jihad in Chechnya:
MOSCOW — Russian troops capped a weeklong crackdown on Chechen separatists by killing four rebels linked to guerrilla leader Shamil Basayev on the weekend, including the leader of Arab fighters in Muslim Chechnya.
Moscow refused to comment on the report, but Saudi-born militant Abu al-Waleed al-Ghamdi‘s death was confirmed by his brother, who said the man had close links to Mr. Basayev.
More than 10 rebels, including Wahhabi militants, were killed in planned “special operations” by Russian troops in the mountainous region last week, news agencies reported.
Wahhabism is a strict Islamic sect dominant in Saudi Arabia.
Heavy gunfire in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya — just over the border from Chechnya in mainly Muslim Ingushetia — started Saturday and ended early yesterday after troops sealed off a house where they said important rebels were holed up.
“These people, acting on Basayev’s orders . . . were involved in recruiting and training young women from various regions in the North Caucasus with an aim to turn them into suicide bombers,” Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian military in the Caucasus, told Itar-Tass news agency.
The Kremlin says Abu al-Waleed is among those behind February’s bombing of the Moscow subway.
It also said he wasone of the perpetrators of the 1999 apartment bombings that prompted President Vladimir Putin to send troops back into Chechnya.
Islamist websites prominently featured news of Abu al-Waleed’s death yesterday.
Some said he had been betrayed by companions while he was preparing to pray.
“My brother has been martyred,” Abdullah al-Saeed al-Ghamdi said by telephone from the Saudi capital Riyadh. “We don’t have any details but we know he was killed recently,” he added.
“We received the news yesterday and now people are coming to congratulate us on his martyrdom.”
Another person reported to have been killed was 27-year-old Magomed Khazhiyev, a religious leader of an ultra-radical Islamic Wahhabi community in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky region.
Russia says it is bringing control to Chechnya, where it has fought separatist guerrillas for nine years, and that it is reducing its troop levels and heavy weaponry. But service officers and police are killed daily.
The Kremlin blames Chechen rebels for a spate of attacks across Russia, including those by so-called “black widow” female suicide bombers.