Kadyrov with his grandsons
Kadyrov, the Chechen leader who was just assassinated by jihadists, just didn’t want it as fast as his killers did. He also takes issue with the radical Islam brought to Chechnya by mujahedin from other countries, which he contends was at variance with the Islam that was rooted in Chechen culture. But there again, such people were doubtless able to gain recruits by appealing to the Islamic texts and showing that their vision of the faith was the one taught in those texts. From Pravda, with thanks to Peter Rockas:
From Interview with Akhmad Kadyrov by PRAVDA.Ru correspondents, 2003, 25 July, Moscow
– Akhmad-Haji, Do you see the Republic of Chechnya as a Muslim, an Islamic one?
– I was strongly against the introduction of a Sharia government in the republic – but not because I did not want such a thing. I am working hard for it, actually. But I know that we are not ready. One has to nurture a new generation, to raise children in the spirit of Islam.
The Sharia regulations that they gave us were simply an interpretation of the Sudanese ones. They were approved by Yandarbiyev, and he did not ask anyone. When Aslan Maskhadov and I visited Saudi Arabia and met with the government of Sudan, Sudanese officials told us that it had taken them 11 years to institute a Sharia government. Did we want to have everything done in one day? Things do not work like that.
Furthermore, who dictated Islam to us? Movladi Udugov, who does not have any idea what Islam is? Or Maskhadov and Yandarbiyev? Who are they? They do not know the bases of Islam, they do not understand it.
All these people ran a separatist policy deliberately. …
Military troops were withdrawn from Chechnya on Dec. 31, 1996. But what did “free Chechnya” do? It opened the door to criminals from the entire territory of Russia, the former USSR and its outskirts. Criminals were coming to Chechnya from all over the world – they did not have a place in their own countries. But they could live perfectly well in Chechnya.
Non-Muslims were allegedly converting to Islam. It is ridiculous to talk about such a thing. Becoming a Muslim for them implied growing a beard and learning how to pronounce “salam aleykum.” What kind of a Muslim is that?
I grew up in a very religious family. I could read the Qu’ran easily at the age of five. Do you think I can stay calm when such people try to teach me what Islam is, how to pronounce it and what to do with it?!
If Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed a peace treaty between Russia and Chechnya, why did the incursion into Dagestan take place? If we, as a separate state that had concluded a peace treaty with Russia, attack a neighboring republic, a unit of the Russian Federation, is it called Jihad? No, it is not. It is a provocation to unleash a war in Chechnya.
– But you declared Jihad on Russia in 1995. You were waging war on Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov’s side.
– Yes, I was on that side, and I am proud that I was able to choose the right way to go. There are specific reasons for why I declared Jihad and why I changed my position. That was a time when people were gripped with the idea of liberation. They thought that people like Dudayev or Yandarbiyev wanted freedom and an Islamic state for Chechnya.
And what happened next?
There is a rule of Sharia: If the enemy wants to suppress you, you are supposed to put up a strong resistance. But the enemy did not come on its own: We brought it to us. We went to Dagestan, arranged a massacre there and then returned. This means, as they say, that Russia is the enemy that came to the borders and demanded that the bandits should be delivered – Basayev, Khattab, everyone who had been in Dagestan. But instead of delivering the bandits, Aslan Maskhadov appointed them commanders. He accepted the war, and that was when I stood up against them.
I appeared on television and called upon people to bring their sons, their brothers back – everyone who was going to Dagestan. I said that it was a war between neighbors, between Muslims. But it didn’t work. I personally told Maskhadov not to let Basayev go. Aslan assured me that Basayev was not coming back to Chechnya, because he had a plan: To first conquer Dagestan and then attack Azerbaijan and spread the ideas of Islam.