It may surprise some of my dear readers to learn that there exists a thread connecting Qatar back to the North Caucasus (which will be the focus of a number of upcoming posts). That thread is in the form of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, the second president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
It appears the FSB or GRU followed President Vladimir Putin’s directive regarding the “Chechen problem” and began a “mop up” campaign outside of Russia in early 2004. This campaign started in Qatar with the assassination of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev.
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev had been one of the earliest Islamist ideologues in Chechnya and after losing to Aslan Maskhadov in the presidential election in Chechnya in 1997, he traveled to Pakistan and other Muslim countries to obtain support for the Chechen cause. He raised money for Al Qaeda and directed funds to the Chechens who conducted the Dubrovka Theater attack (which makes Yandarbiyev’s former occupation as an author of children’s stories seem somewhat incongruous). Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was later listed as a terrorist and Russia tried unsuccessfully to have him extradited from Qatar.
He was assassinated by a car bomb on February 13, 2004 in Doha’s northern Dasma District.
Things had really ramped up by the the fall of 2008 as high-profile extra-territorial assassinations of Kadyrov’s (Moscow’s man in Chechnya) opponents proceeded at a rate of about one per month…
Although nothing can be proven, what is most significant about these killings is the frequent use of the “Groza” rifle, which was developed specifically for the FSB Spetsnaz groups. Using a “signature” weapon would be a mistake if one wanted a murder to go unnoticed. Thus, the only logical explanation is that Russia and the FSB are sending a clear signal to insurgents, the countries where Russia’s enemies reside and the rest of the world, to let them know that if you work against the interests of Russia, then the FSB will get you.
Qatar actually has a long list of interesting residents, which has led to it’s nickname as the “Club Med for terrorists”. Some of the more notable names include the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a “terrorist financier” for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas.
But I wasn’t there for any of that…