Chechens confirm Khattab is dead
A radical wing of the Chechen rebel leadership confirmed that Arab warlord Khattab was dead, in a statement to the separatist news agency Kavkaz-Center. "The death of the Chechen commander has been officially confirmed," the news agency said, citing the "command headquarters of the Chechen Mujahideen," adding that Khattab was poisoned by a letter delivered to him on March 19.
Ah. The old Poisoned Letter trick. Never heard of it.
Russia's intelligence agency FSB, the former KGB, said last week it had killed the guerrilla leader, believed to have been born in Jordan or Saudi Arabia and known by only by the single name Khattab, during an undercover operation.
Hey, good research. Actually he was known by the single name Omar Ibn al Khattab, but they're close.
However, Chechen rebels repeatedly dismissed the claims as Moscow's propaganda, even after Russian RTR state television broadcast several minutes of amateur film apparently showing the body of Khattab, recognisable by his trademark flowing black hair and beard.
Toldja it looked like him. Toldja he looked dead. The Talibs denied Mohammad Atef was dead, too, even after he'd started to stink.
The film was shot by Chechen rebels on March 19-20 and later obtained by the FSB, according to RTR.
Apparently they got his body with it, since they cut his head off, perhaps to pickle it. Kinda hard to argue with that kind of evidence, though the Bad Guys tried.
The Chechen radical wing said Khattab was poisoned by a letter delivered by a messenger who was known to him, adding that "according to some information, the messenger is now with the Russians," Kavkaz-Center reported.
The Russers said they had turned one of his Arab buddies. Guess they did.
The report added that Khattab was buried in the mountain regions of southern Chechnya, a stronghold of separatist rebels who have been fighting a brutal two and a half year guerrilla war against Russian forces.
Except for his head, which the Putin has in a jug on his desk. Heh heh.
Khattab, who according to Russia had links to wanted terrorist suspect al-Qaeda, personified for many Russians the threat of international Islamic extremism.
That's probably because he was an international Islamic extremist. He probably coordinated with Binny and passed the usual congrats, and certainly there were lotsa Chechens in Afghanistan, but I still don't think they were part of the same network. I think they were parallel to each other, possibly under the same Soddi master.
The death of such a prominent figure would represent a major blow to the rebels in breakaway Chechnya where Russian forces have until now failed to kill or capture any of the leading Chechen guerrilla chiefs.
They got that right, even if they got the name a little wrong. I shall now ululate and hand out candy to children while shooting my gun off into the sky.
Khattab, head of the Islamic Army of Dagestan, was the loyal lieutenant of top Chechen commander Shamil Basayev, with whom he had sought to restore a 19th-century Islamic state in the Caucasus.
He was trying to carve out his own little Islamic emirate. Khattab was the commander of the Chechen Foreign Legion, estimated at 400 thugs. Shamil commands the local boys.
He is a figure shrouded in mystery, an enigma that begins with his name and origins. Russian newspapers say he was in his mid-30s, and born Habib Abder-Rakhman of Jordanian or Saudi origin.
I read someplace that he was a Jordanian bedouin, born on the Soddi side of the border.
Viewed as one of the main proponents of Wahhabism, an austere Saudi brand of Islam, he is said to have waged a holy war against Russia for 15 years, first in Afghanistan then in Tajikistan and to have also supported Muslims in Azerbaijan during the conflict in Nagorny-Karabakh.
Ah, the good old days of Nagorno-Karabakh. It started with Azeri thugs grabbing military equipment from the local Russers, who were in the process of shutting down and going home, and driving through Armenian towns shooting everything in sight. It ended with the Armenians taking the shootin' arns away from them and beating the hell out of them.

Khattab's loss is in the same category as Abu Zubaydah and the deaths of Mohammad Atef and Juma Namangani. It's not going to make his little army of mercenaries go away, but leadership, especially in Islamist circles, is personality-based. More important, the aura of inevitability is also dented. True Believers are a lot more likely to be willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause that'll be victorious in the end. If you're not going to be victorious, why bother?

Posted by: Fred Pruitt 2002-04-29