|Olya Engalycheva/Associated Press|
Islamists are Everywhere
- World War III Alert - The Ukrainian War is turning into quite an international affair. Foreign Islamists are coming in to fight against Russia while other foreigners are fighting for Russia. It is a coin toss on WWIII starting in Ukraine or the Middle East.
(New York Times) - Wearing camouflage, with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard flowing over his chest and a bowie knife sheathed prominently in his belt, the man cut a fearsome figure in the nearly empty restaurant. Waiters hovered apprehensively near the kitchen, and try as he might, the man who calls himself “Muslim,” a former Chechen warlord, could not wave them over for more tea.
Even for Ukrainians hardened by more than a year of war here against Russian-backed separatists, the appearance of Islamic combatants, mostly Chechens, in towns near the front lines comes as something of a surprise — and for many of the Ukrainians, a welcome one.
“We like to fight the Russians,” said the Chechen, who refused to give his real name. “We always fight the Russians.”
He commands one of three volunteer Islamic battalions out of about 30 volunteer units in total fighting now in eastern Ukraine. The Islamic battalions are deployed to the hottest zones, which is why the Chechen was here.
Fighting is intensifying around Mariupol, a strategic seaport and industrial hub that the separatists have long coveted. Monitors for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe say they have seen steady nighttime shipments of Russian military equipment on a rail line north of here.
|Isa Musayev and other Muslim fighters in Ukraine in January. |
Musayev helped found the Chechen battalions and was killed
in February, another leader said.
The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure. It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia.
Neither the Sheikh Mansur group nor Right Sector is incorporated into the formal police or military, and the Ukrainian authorities decline to say how many Chechens are fighting in eastern Ukraine. They are all unpaid.
Right Sector formed during last year’s street protests in Kiev from a half-dozen fringe Ukrainian nationalist groups like White Hammer and the Trident of Stepan Bandera. Another, the Azov group, is openly neo-Nazi, using the “Wolf’s Hook” symbol associated with the SS. Without addressing the issue of the Nazi symbol, the Chechen said he got along well with the nationalists because, like him, they love their homeland and hate the Russians.
In Ukraine, the Dzhokhar Dudayev and Sheikh Mansur units are mostly Chechen, but they include Muslims from other former Soviet areas, such as Uzbeks and Balkars. The third unit, Crimea, is predominantly Crimean Tatar. There is no indication of any United States involvement with the groups.
Along the front about seven miles to the east, the battalions career about in civilian cars, AK-47 rifles poking from the windows, while the regular army holds back in a secondary line of defensive trenches.
The Chechens are also renowned for their deft ambushes and raids. In the Chechen wars, insurgents had a policy of killing officers and contract soldiers who were taken prisoner, but conscripted soldiers were spared.
In Ukraine, the Chechens’ calls of “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” are said to strike fear in the hearts of the Russians.
In the interview, the Chechen commander said his men liked to fight with little protective gear. “This is the way we look at it,” he said. “We believe in God, so we don’t need armored vests.”
Read More . . . .
Bright eyed ethnic Russian youth in Ukraine train to help Mother Russia. These conflicts are far from the black and white issues the politicians like to go on about.