Interview with Shamil Basayev
- Q.1 What is the truth behind reported negotiations between President
Maskhadov and the Russians? What is your position on any such
Would Maskhadov be capable of achieving Chechnya's independence through
negotiations without consulting Mujahideen field commanders? Russian
reports that there is disagreement between you and Maskhadov and that
and Khattab threatened Maskhadov with decapitation and by killing his
if he signed a truce agreement with the Russians?
A.1 There are no negotiations or even discussions between President
Maskhadov and the Russian Government. We are working towards expelling
Russian forces from Chechnya, irrespective of whether this is achieved
quickly or in the long-term, for all wars must come to an end. However,
time the war must end according to the guidelines of Islamic Sharia so
we are not tricked the same way we were tricked before. (Commander
was referring to the 1996 agreement between Chechnya and Russia, which
promised to give Chechens the chance to vote for independence in 2001;
Russians, however, were drawing up plans for a reoccupation of Chechnya
shortly after the agreement was signed. The latest war is a result of
Russia's treacherous reneging on the agreement).
The Russians attempted to negotiate with me through some of my friends
relatives; they offered me many things, including the recognition of my
brother as president of the republic and the withdrawal (Russian forces)
from Chechnya on the condition that I bring an end to the Jihad in the
Caucasus and that we not support anyone (from the other Islamic
that want independence), and to close all (military) bases. I say, by
will of Allah Most High, they (the Russians) will not reach their goals
(will not succeed) in causing a rift (fitna) between the various field
commanders, all of who are aware of these dirty schemes.
When the government of Chechnya was in the hands of the Mujahideen,
were disagreements on how to rebuild the country and how to organize the
government. However, now that the enemy has entered Chechen territory,
is no disagreement because everyone is agreed upon fighting the Russian
unbelievers and expelling them form Chechnya; on this issue there is no
disagreement, and there is no choice.
In the past we tried to solve the issue in a way that did not correspond
entirely to Sharia and we failed; we must now implement Islamic Sharia
Russia must pay compensation for all that it destroyed in Chechnya, only
then will there be negotiations. If this does not happen, we will force
Russia to pay compensation for all what it destroyed in Chechnya.
I did not participate in the past negotiations and do not want to
participate (in any new) negotiations. I want to remove these pigs from
Chechnya and the most important thing is that all negotiations be held
within the guidelines of Islamic Sharia.
It is true that they offered to negotiate with me, but we refused this
because we are not children and we are not naive to allow ourselves to
fooled by the Russians; we know their conniving and their schemes and
their goal from offering these negotiations was creating a rift between
Mujahideen. I can assure you that we will not sit with them on the
(With regards to the questions of Maskhadov) Islamic Sharia does not
punishing women and children if one of their relatives committed an
if a mistake was made, the person who committed the mistake must be held
accountable (this does not refer to President Maskhadov, but rather it
reply to Russian media reports that Shamil and Khattab were threatening
kill President Maskhadov's family).
When I heard that Maskhadov's family crossed the Chechen borders I was
pleased because the unbelievers are expected to do anything to hurt his
family; all praise be to Allah that they went abroad.
It is not strange of the Russians to cause harm; they are taking the
and the family members of the Mujahideen and are violating them and
torturing them; many of the Mujahideen were happy when President
Q.2 Is there a way for the many Muslims from abroad who want to join you
come to Chechnya? Would the arrival of foreign Mujahideen be a burden
you at this particular time? What do you advise your Muslim brothers who
want to participate in the fighting and do you require the services of
specially qualified individuals, like professional-soldiers, doctors or
A.2 The problem is not the way in to Chechnya as much as it is the
inside the republic, particularly when it comes to fighting and moving.
situation is not like Afghanistan, which bordered a country that
it and facilitated movement into the country; Chechnya does not border
friendly country. Moreover, the size of the republic is small and the
Russians are surrounding it from all sides.
If a brother Mujahid does not know the nature of the terrain then it
difficult for him to execute orders. The presence of Russian forces in
locations makes things difficult for the Mujahideen. Also, if a Mujahid
injured, he will find it very difficult to remain in the mountains.
one of the foreign Mujahideen was injured, it becomes a major problem
to treat him inside Chechnya. I would say to all young men, particularly
young men who are not well trained, that Jihad will not end over a day
night; Jihad (as stated in the Prophetic saying) will continue until the
of judgment; Jihad will continue until Muslims liberate their land and
re-establish the Khilafa (Caliphate Islamic state). I say to these young
that they must prepare themselves well and Inshaa-Allah, there will be
relief for the Muslims.
There is no doubt that there is a great need for qualified individuals
doctors, surgeons and others; however, the circumstances are quite harsh
our (infrastructure) capabilities (to support them) are non-existent -
would limit the usefulness of the role they would fulfil.
Q.3 Russian authorities are circulating a 20-minute video to various
authorities and other audiences around the world. The video pictures
individuals who are alleged to be Russian prisoners of war who were
mistreated, maimed and humiliated at the hands of the Mujahideen and
suggests that the Mujahideen are killing civilians; these allegations
aimed at yourself and Khattab, what is your reply to this video and
charges made against you in this regard? Do you think such actions
murder..) are permissible Islamically?
A.3 I am happy that the Russians are using such methods (of
because it shows their weakness; they try to circulate such lies and
to tarnish the image of the Mujahideen in hope that simple Muslims will
fooled into not providing the Mujahideen with moral support and dua.
I saw part of this tape last summer and we know who is committing such
crimes; there are some Chechen gangs who operate within the republic and
these things. I saw, for example, the shooting of bullets at the fingers
a hostage and the torture of another; yes, we know the gang that did
We also know of a gang of 14 men that was led by Khalifa Adam; the gang
to operate from the village of Arturi in the province of Kurcheloy. Adam
an operative for Russia and came to Chechnya when Russian forces entered
country; he wanted to become president of the republic and tried to show
new face as opposed to his past - especially after 11 of his gang
were killed and the remaining three escaped to Moscow.
There also is another gang that is led by general Salim, the governor of
Gudermes. He too is working for the Russians and is an important member
the proxy (pro-Moscow) Chechen government that was appointed by the
Russians. Let me give you a few examples:
On April 16, 2000, the Mujahideen attacked a Russian column in Serzhen
The Mujahideen captured a document and brought it to me; the document,
is numbered and officially signed and stamped was in the possession of a
solider named Budosky. The document will soon be posted on our Internet
Inshaa-Allah; it shows that the soldier took part in battles on
which proves that despite the agreement that was signed on 08/96, the
Russians were still sending troops to fight in Chechnya nearly one year
after the agreement had been signed. Most Russian police and
units were conducting operations in Chechnya and the solider from whom
document was captured was even part of a mercenary unit.
The war officially ended in 96 and elections were called soon after
This soldier came to fight in Chechnya and the document we captured from
proves that Russian intelligence units were murdering and terrorizing
Russian civilians who lived in the country; we had plenty of information
this regard, but we did not have sufficient evidence; this document is
strong evidence that Russian military and intelligence units were
terror campaigns in Chechnya and blaming the Mujahideen and the Chechen
All praise be to Allah, we are aware of the Islamic judicial rulings in
regard; in the summer of 98 we distributed a booklet entitled 'fiqh of
Mujahid' which was prepared by the Kavkaz Institute for Da`wa in Serzhen
Yurt, and printed with support of our brother Mujahid Sheikh Abu Mus'ab
<chechnyaphotosdagestan.htm>, may Allah have mercy upon him, who was a
student of Islamic knowledge (ilm) and was the manager of the Kavkaz
The booklet was distributed to the Mujahideen and outlined the Islamic
of dealing with prisoners and the way the Mujahideen should conduct
themselves when fighting Russian forces.
Khattab and myself spent half a year consulting Islamic scholars and
students of Islamic knowledge to ensure that our Jihad was within the
guidelines of Sharia.
>From our jihad we hope to gain the Mercy of Allah Most Glorious and thegreat rewards He bestows (upon his righteous slaves) - why would we
this mercy and this reward by conducting such horrendous and criminal
that are not allowed by Islamic Sharia.
It is true that we executed some prisoners but they were not maimed and
executed (for reasons) within the bounds of Islamic Sharia
<chechnyaexecart.htm>, and after they were sentenced to death according
the best interests of the Jihad (9 OMON soldiers executed
<http://www.qoqaz.net.my/html/chechnyaphotos.htm>); however, the
do not engage in criminal activity.
The Russians are the ones who commit such crimes; we fear Allah and do
engage in such actions - ask any of the people of Dagestan how we
them (during operations in summer 99) and (they will confirm the
behaviour of the Mujahideen).
There is an Eastern proverb that says: 'The dog barks while the convoy
forward.' The Russians may bark as much as they want and may say
they want, the Jihad will continue and we, Inshaa-Allah, will continue
the path of Jihad and hope for the Mercy of Allah Most Glorious.
Q.4 What is the truth behind claims that Shamil is tied to certain
groups, particularly the business tycoon Gerenovsky?
A.4 Once again I say: 'The dog barks while the convoy moves forward.'
will claim and will continue to claim.
When the first war ended in 96, I was an official with Maskhadov in
Chechnya; the president left the country to perform the pilgrimage and
visit several Islamic countries to ask for loans for the rebuilding of
Chechnya. Unfortunately not one of these countries offered anything.
this time I was President Maskhadov's assistant and Gerenovsky was an
official in a committee that has worked in Chechnya. Yes, I met with him
there was a formal meeting where I offered him the chance to tender for
projects in Chechnya, which is rich in oil and natural resources.
I officially asked him to rebuild a cement factory in one of the
the factory was the biggest of its kind in the Caucasus but much of it
been destroyed during the war. I asked him rebuild the factory and said
would be paid for his efforts at a later stage; he accepted and rebuilt
factory in an operation that involved 1,500 workers. The relatively
section that was rebuilt managed to produce more than 7,000 tonnes of
Q.5 It is possible that Russian intelligence will conduct operations
Russian civilians similarly to the way it did previously and that would
to make people side against you; what is your reply to the possibility
A.5 Most of the world today is against us. The crucifix is being raised
and war is being declared against Islam and Muslims; this is proof that
war is like the Crusades where all of Europe's intelligence capabilities
geared towards providing Russia with information and other support. They
supporting the Russian Military by providing it with media support,
international loans, important information - all of this is done openly
covertly. The European Council and other international bodies pretend to
show that they sympathize with Chechnya and that they support human
yet they (the Russians and their supporters in the West) are fighting us
collectively, as Allah has described them: "And fight the unbelievers
collectively as they fight you collectively." Unfortunately media is
in the hands of the unbelievers; we do not have sufficient media to
to their lies and rumours - they report whatever they want.
Russia today is not just killing the Muslims of Chechnya, it is killing
of the Muslims under its rule. In the past century, Russia killed more
five million Circassians; they view the lives of Muslims as having the
value. There are books published by the Russian Government that depict
through photography the way Muslims were killed and forced into exile -
is one of the methods used by Russian intelligence officers to maintain
control over Russia.
We do not kill women, children and the elderly because Allah has
this. We only fight Russian soldiers who destroyed our country and want
push us away from our religion and our ideology. We do not care that
media characterizes the Mujahideen as terrorists or fundamentalists, for
this is the way the unbelieving media shows its true face and its enmity
towards Muslims. The unbelievers are the criminals; I do not care about
calling us names, all I care about is being honest in the face of Allah
that my work be accepted within the bounds of Sharia.
Q.6 How is your wound? Has it healed? Can you return to the field of
A.6 The real wound (has been inflicted upon) the Muslim Ummah and its
weakness under the oppression of their enemies from every corner. The
Mujahideen's wounds are everywhere, not just my wound. Today the
are stepping on the necks of Muslims and are sucking their blood. The
unbelievers have divided the lands of the Muslims and have created
and rifts among them.
Today there are more than one billion Muslims; we are the biggest nation
also the weakest. Muslims disagree on small and insignificant things
forgetting what Allah has made obligatory upon them. After the
Iman (believing) Muslims are obliged to free themselves from unbelievers
are dominating Muslim lands. The Ummah must unite behind one Caliph and
together under the rule of Islamic Sharia.
As for my wound, I consider it a gift from Allah Most High. Nobody wants
go through hardship, but if this hardship is endured for the sake of
then we are patient. I hope my leg will have reached heaven ahead of me.
There are many learned scholars who hope to be wounded or martyred for
sake of Allah.
The injury does not affect me at all. I ask Allah to give me the
walking with one leg is possible. I am not the first to lose a leg,
are many Mujahideen who have lost legs. I also do not face any problem
the battlefield; all praise be to Allah, there are many Mujahideen and
assistants, and we use many means of communications to manage battles
distance. Inshaa-Allah I will also rejoin the Mujahideen at the front
in the upcoming battles.
The Russians contacted me and said they wanted to negotiate; I replied
them by saying that they would be out of Chechnya before my leg healed
completely. If it heals completely Inshaa-Allah, we will not leave
alone and Russia will not be able to do anything to stop us. For the
being, I have made an artificial support and will not wait until the
artificial limb arrives from abroad.
Chechnya is a small republic, only 200KM. I can move around the whole
country in a single day. The Mujahideen also take me with them
consider the injury as losing a piece of myself for Allah.
Q.7 Is there a way we can follow your news?
A.7 We have two websites; the first is in Russian and is overseen by
Movladi Ugudov and the second site is 'Voice of the Caucasus' which is
Arabic and 16 other languages and reports news from the frontline as
details about military developments and events in Chechnya. The first
is primarily political and is focused at responding to the lies
by the Russian media.
Editor's note: The above transcript was translated from Arabic; all
and sentences in brackets have been added by the editor for purposes of
clarification. The transcript was taken almost word for word from a
interview and as such may not abide by a rigorous question-answer format
has taken a more conversational nature. (MindLink)