The price of death in the Caucasus
by Joseph “Soso” Zaalishvili
A top priority for jihad is financing: the Mujahideen need food, weapons and ammunition, and must provide for the welfare of their families.
The intensity of the actions of the Mujahideen in the Caucasus is directly proportional to the money spent by the wealthy sponsors of jihad. And they, judging by the activity of the Caucasus jihadists, spend considerable sums for that jihad.
To get weapons and ammunition in the Caucasus is not a problem, since there are permanent conflicts. The prices vary depending on the intensity of the warfare.
At the end of the first jihad in Chechnya, 1996-97, a Russian-produced AK-47 (5.45) was worth between 200 and 300 dollars. In 1998, in the arms bazaar in the center of Grozny (the capital of Chechnya), it already cost 6 times that price: 1200 dollars. The prices of other types of weapons also increased.
The existence of this bazaar was due to the fact that the formal structures of the republic could not contain the Mujahideen, who are accustomed to receiving large fees for their participation in hostilities.
During the first Jihad, for the destruction of Russian military armored vehicles the Mujahideen charged up to 30 thousand dollars; for the destruction of an officer, from 10 to 15 thousand dollars.
During the 1994-96 first jihad in Chechnya, 10,000 mujahideen were fighting. In the second jihad in 1999 in the North Caucasus, there were 100-130 thousand mujahideen. Among them were not only Chechens, but Mujahideen from all over the Islamic world: together with the Caucasus jihadists there fought Mujahideen from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Syria and other Islamic countries.
The Imam of Chechnya and Dagestan, Shamil Basayev, told me in an interview that a terrorist act in Budeonovsk cost 40 thousand dollars, and the money was not spent in vain. The Russian leadership has been frightened and broken. The jihadists brought Russia to its knees, and began to spread fear throughout the Caucasus.
There is a special service responsible for the transportation of the Mujahideen and for the security of their families. Their duty is to take them from their home countries and transport them to countries where jihad is being waged. Then the family is assisted by an informal embassy.
One of the important factors of intimidation and terror among the jihadists is the trade in captives, kidnapped people and the corpses of enemies.
In Grozny, after the war In 1996, at the central square near the arms bazaar there were people who bought and sold people: captured Russian soldiers and officers, and their corpses, and thousands of people kidnapped from various parts of Chechnya, the Caucasus and Russia.
The prices for them, too, were different depending on their position and the state of their health.
The phenomenon of migration of the Mujahideen and the dissemination of the ideology of jihad is a problem faced by the world community. Well-trained mujahideen who have no nationality other than Islam and are experts in the art of terror, and who enjoy the tacit or overt support of some states and their leaders, are very dangerous.
For the jihadists, regardless of their origin and nationality, no matter where they are fighting — in the Caucasus, or in another part of the world — they are fighting for Islam. “The rest is a matter of technique.” That is exactly what Basayev said to me in an interview.
The tendency to create a supportive environment for the spread of the ideology of jihad and the movement of jihadists obviously lead to an increase of violence and terror in the countries that welcome the jihadists, as well as in neighboring countries. In 1999, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov sent a letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, requesting weapons and ammunition for his guards.
He asked for weapons, ostensibly to start the war against the jihadists. Shevardnadze refused to help Maskhadov. The Russians armed his guards. Afterward, Maskhadov began Jihad in the Caucasus. This confirms that the jihadists are deceiving loyal people. “Lie to the kaffir (infidel)” is one of the principles of the jihadists. They are always driven by this rule.