From the Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss Department: “Islamic fundamentalist judge emerges as successor to Chechen rebel commander,” from AP, with thanks to Nicolei and RB:
MOSCOW – An Islamic fundamentalist judge emerged Thursday as the likely successor to Chechen rebel commander Aslan Maskhadov, raising the prospect of the separatist conflict turning decisively into a religious war more than a decade after it first erupted.
Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev was backed both by supporters of Maskhadov – who was killed in a Russian raid Tuesday – and by Chechnya’s most feared warlord, Shamil Basayev.
On Thursday, Basayev urged his people to rally behind Sadulayev in a message on a separatist Web site.
But Sadulayev is relatively unknown outside rebel circles, leading to speculation that he would be a figurehead while real power is wielded by Basayev. The warlord, an adherent of fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam, is the self-declared organizer of a series of terrorist attacks – including last year’s seizure of a school in southern Russia in which 330 people died.
Sadulayev’s apparent ascension stems from an 2002 agreement between Maskhadov and other rebel leaders, which emerged publicly Thursday. “As he was chosen by Maskhadov out of so many people, I think he will represent the Chechen republic with dignity,” said Umar Khambiyev, a top rebel spokesman.
Ah yes, dignity. Remember that Maskhadov and Basayev both fought (and Basayev still fights) for the dignity of Islamic law: the amputations, the stonings, the beheadings — all so very dignified.