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Published on December 2nd, 2015 | by Christian Gomez


The Russian Roots of ISIS

Of late, Islamic slogans are being actively promoted in some countries of the East. We Communists have every respect for the religious convictions of people professing Islam or any other religion. The main thing is what aims are pursued by the forces proclaiming various slogans. The banner of Islam may lead into [the] struggle for liberation.”

– General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in the “Report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the XXVI Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union” (Kremlin, Moscow, USSR, February 23, 1981).

Is Russia a friend or foe of ISIS? Mainstream media reporting would have many believe that Vladimir Putin and Russia are modern-day Christian crusaders against the “Islamic radicalism” of ISIS, however deeper research points to an active Russian role in the development of ISIS.

The story Russia’s role in ISIS begins back in 1990, during the latter days of the former Soviet Union. At that time the USSR authorized the creation of a new political party for its Muslim citizens called the Islamic Revival Party. The inaugural congress of the Islamic Revival Party was hosted in Astrakhan, an oblast, or administrative division, in the lower Volga region of Russia bordering Kazakhstan.

Around the same time, the USSR also authorized the establishment of Islamic Revival Parties in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR, now Tajikistan) and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR, now Uzbekistan). Rather than Marxism-Leninism, like the then-ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Islamic Revival Parties outwardly proclaimed a fundamental Islamist ideology.

With the Soviet authorization of these Islamic Revival Parties in the Muslim-populated areas of the USSR, the CPSU had provided the more radicalized Muslims of the USSR with a political home from which to further voice their message at home and abroad throughout the Muslim world.

One of the early founders of the USSR Islamic Revival Party was a man by the name Supyan Abdullayev, a Wahhabist ideologue who eventually a Chechen terrorist. Abdullayev was born in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh SSR, now Kazakhstan).

According to the daily Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets, based out of Moscow and formerly the official periodical organ of the Moscow City Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, it reported that Abdullayev was already a radical before the purported collapse of the Soviet Union and before the creation of the Islamic Revival Party. “Abdullayev stood on the positions of radicalism well before the collapse of the USSR and the organization of the ‘Islamic Revival Party’,” the Moskovskij Komsomolets reported.

In other words, the Soviet government must have known that Abdullayev was a radical before it authorized the creation of the party that he helped create. The Moskovskij Komsomolets further reported:

According to some reports, back in the 1980s Abdullayev was recruited by the KGB. Since 1991, he actively participated the rebellions in Chechnya starting with the first Chechen campaign fought against federal troops. By 1996, he was appointed deputy commander of the famous “Islamic battalion.”

In August of the same year he participated in the attack on Grozny. Then Aslan Maskhadov appointed Supyan Abdullayev to the position of deputy head of the Ministry of State Security Sharia (the equivalent of our FSB). [Translated from Russian.]

Not only was Abdullayev a known radical well before the creation of the Soviet authorized Islamic Revival Party, but, according to the Moscow communist newspaper, he was a KGB/FSB and GRU Russian-trained asset. A Russian-trained asset that coincidently also became a Chechen terrorist and second-in-command of Chechnya’s version of the KGB, the Ministry of State Security Sharia (MSSS).

Aslan Maskhadov, who appointed Abdullayev deputy head of the MSSS, was the third president of the self-declared Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, until his death on March 8, 2005. And like Abdullayev, Maskhadov was also born in the Kazakh SSR. It was during Maskhadov’s reign that Abdullayev rose to the rank of brigadier general. Abdullayev remained loyal to Maskhadov until his death.

Following President Maskhadov’s death, Abdullayev left Ichkeria to join the Caucasian Emirate, where he again quickly rose through the ranks going on to serve as one of their leading field commanders and chief ideologist for its leader Dokka Umarov. The Caucasian Emirate is a separatist militant Salafist Jihadist terror group allied with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the al-Nusra Front in Syria, and ISIS.

So to recap thus far, Supyan Abdullayev, a radical who a Soviet/Russian-trained KGB/FSB/GRU asset and a founder of the Soviet-authorized Islamic Revival Party became a leading commander and ideologue for the Caucasian Emirate, an Islamic terrorist organization with direct ties to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

According to an interview with the jihadist Russian-language website, Abu Omar al-Shishani, one of the top field commanders of ISIS, admitted that he arrived in Syria to fight “on the orders of Amir Abu Uthman (Dokka Umarov) and for a certain amount of time he has supported us financially.”

Caucasian Emirate leader Dokka Umarov, like Abdullayev, is also a Russian-trained FSB and GRU asset.

In an interview with DELFI, a daily news website servicing Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine, former Chechen Prime Minister Akhmed Zakayev admitted that Umarov was in fact an asset of Russian security services, the FSB and GRU:

We announced it many times. In 2007, Umarov declared war to America, Great Britain and Israel. Before this statement, Dokka was in the radar of Russian secret services, but was released by some miracle, and announced this statement. Umarov is under full command of Russian special services. To this day he was (and will be, I’m sure) performing the tasks assigned to him by these structures.

As Umarov supported ISIS financially and has ordered his militant fighters from the Caucasian Emirates to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, he was and remains under the “full command of Russian special services,” according to former Prime Minister Zakayev.

In addition to Abdullayev and Umarov, thousands of Russian citizens have also joined ISIS. During the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism: Alexander Bortnikov (February 18-20), FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov made the surprising announcement that 1,700 Russian citizens are in Iraq fighting for ISIS. “At present there are 1,700 Russian citizens in Iraq and this number has practically doubled since last year,” Bortnikov said.

Since Bortnikov’s announcement in February, the number of Russians and former Soviet bloc citizens who have joined to fight for ISIS has increased dramatically up to 7,000. On October 16, 2015, speaking at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Council of Heads of State, Russian President and former KGB officer Vladimir Putin revealed between 5,000 to 7,000 people from Russia and other former Soviet-bloc states have taken up arms to fight alongside ISIS. “There are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 fighters from Russia and other CIS member states fighting for ISIL,” Putin said using an alternate acronym for ISIS.

From the Soviet authorization of the USSR Islamic Revival Parties to KGB/FSB-trained or controlled assets such as Abdullayev and Umarov, and the many thousands of Russians who have joined ISIS’s ranks, the Russian roots of ISIS cannot and should not be overlooked.


*This is a newly updated version of an article originally published on on March 9, 2015, entitled “The Russian Roots of ISIS.” Posted here as a guest article with permission from the author.

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