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Interview with Shamil Basayev

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  • alm@znet.com
    Q.1 What is the truth behind reported negotiations between President Maskhadov and the Russians? What is your position on any such negotiations? Would
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2000
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      Q.1 What is the truth behind reported negotiations between President
      Maskhadov and the Russians? What is your position on any such
      negotiations?
      Would Maskhadov be capable of achieving Chechnya's independence through
      negotiations without consulting Mujahideen field commanders? Russian
      media
      reports that there is disagreement between you and Maskhadov and that
      Shamil
      and Khattab threatened Maskhadov with decapitation and by killing his
      family
      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,
      this
      time the war must end according to the guidelines of Islamic Sharia so
      that
      we are not tricked the same way we were tricked before. (Commander
      Shamil
      was referring to the 1996 agreement between Chechnya and Russia, which
      promised to give Chechens the chance to vote for independence in 2001;
      the
      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
      and
      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
      republics
      that want independence), and to close all (military) bases. I say, by
      the
      will of Allah Most High, they (the Russians) will not reach their goals
      and
      (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,
      there
      were disagreements on how to rebuild the country and how to organize the
      government. However, now that the enemy has entered Chechen territory,
      there
      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
      and
      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
      be
      fooled by the Russians; we know their conniving and their schemes and
      that
      their goal from offering these negotiations was creating a rift between
      the
      Mujahideen. I can assure you that we will not sit with them on the
      negotiating table.
      (With regards to the questions of Maskhadov) Islamic Sharia does not
      allow
      punishing women and children if one of their relatives committed an
      error;
      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
      is a
      reply to Russian media reports that Shamil and Khattab were threatening
      to
      kill President Maskhadov's family).
      When I heard that Maskhadov's family crossed the Chechen borders I was
      very
      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
      women
      and the family members of the Mujahideen and are violating them and
      torturing them; many of the Mujahideen were happy when President
      Maskhadov's
      family left.
      Q.2 Is there a way for the many Muslims from abroad who want to join you
      to
      come to Chechnya? Would the arrival of foreign Mujahideen be a burden
      upon
      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
      surgeons?
      A.2 The problem is not the way in to Chechnya as much as it is the
      problem
      inside the republic, particularly when it comes to fighting and moving.
      The
      situation is not like Afghanistan, which bordered a country that
      supported
      it and facilitated movement into the country; Chechnya does not border
      any
      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
      will be
      difficult for him to execute orders. The presence of Russian forces in
      most
      locations makes things difficult for the Mujahideen. Also, if a Mujahid
      is
      injured, he will find it very difficult to remain in the mountains.
      Thus, if
      one of the foreign Mujahideen was injured, it becomes a major problem
      for us
      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
      and a
      night; Jihad (as stated in the Prophetic saying) will continue until the
      day
      of judgment; Jihad will continue until Muslims liberate their land and
      re-establish the Khilafa (Caliphate Islamic state). I say to these young
      men
      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
      like
      doctors, surgeons and others; however, the circumstances are quite harsh
      and
      our (infrastructure) capabilities (to support them) are non-existent -
      that
      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
      also
      suggests that the Mujahideen are killing civilians; these allegations
      are
      aimed at yourself and Khattab, what is your reply to this video and
      other
      charges made against you in this regard? Do you think such actions
      (torture,
      murder..) are permissible Islamically?
      A.3 I am happy that the Russians are using such methods (of
      disinformation)
      because it shows their weakness; they try to circulate such lies and
      attempt
      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
      do
      these things. I saw, for example, the shooting of bullets at the fingers
      of
      a hostage and the torture of another; yes, we know the gang that did
      this.
      We also know of a gang of 14 men that was led by Khalifa Adam; the gang
      used
      to operate from the village of Arturi in the province of Kurcheloy. Adam
      is
      an operative for Russia and came to Chechnya when Russian forces entered
      the
      country; he wanted to become president of the republic and tried to show
      a
      new face as opposed to his past - especially after 11 of his gang
      members
      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
      of
      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
      Yurt.
      The Mujahideen captured a document and brought it to me; the document,
      which
      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
      site
      Inshaa-Allah; it shows that the soldier took part in battles on
      29/01/97,
      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
      intelligence
      units were conducting operations in Chechnya and the solider from whom
      the
      document was captured was even part of a mercenary unit.
      The war officially ended in 96 and elections were called soon after
      that.
      This soldier came to fight in Chechnya and the document we captured from
      him
      proves that Russian intelligence units were murdering and terrorizing
      Russian civilians who lived in the country; we had plenty of information
      in
      this regard, but we did not have sufficient evidence; this document is
      strong evidence that Russian military and intelligence units were
      conducting
      terror campaigns in Chechnya and blaming the Mujahideen and the Chechen
      people.
      All praise be to Allah, we are aware of the Islamic judicial rulings in
      this
      regard; in the summer of 98 we distributed a booklet entitled 'fiqh of
      the
      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
      centre.
      The booklet was distributed to the Mujahideen and outlined the Islamic
      way
      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 the
      great rewards He bestows (upon his righteous slaves) - why would we
      squander
      this mercy and this reward by conducting such horrendous and criminal
      acts
      that are not allowed by Islamic Sharia.
      It is true that we executed some prisoners but they were not maimed and
      were
      executed (for reasons) within the bounds of Islamic Sharia
      <chechnyaexecart.htm>, and after they were sentenced to death according
      to
      the best interests of the Jihad (9 OMON soldiers executed
      <http://www.qoqaz.net.my/html/chechnyaphotos.htm>); however, the
      Mujahideen
      do not engage in criminal activity.
      The Russians are the ones who commit such crimes; we fear Allah and do
      not
      engage in such actions - ask any of the people of Dagestan how we
      treated
      them (during operations in summer 99) and (they will confirm the
      exemplary
      behaviour of the Mujahideen).
      There is an Eastern proverb that says: 'The dog barks while the convoy
      moves
      forward.' The Russians may bark as much as they want and may say
      whatever
      they want, the Jihad will continue and we, Inshaa-Allah, will continue
      on
      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
      Russian
      groups, particularly the business tycoon Gerenovsky?
      A.4 Once again I say: 'The dog barks while the convoy moves forward.'
      They
      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
      to
      visit several Islamic countries to ask for loans for the rebuilding of
      Chechnya. Unfortunately not one of these countries offered anything.
      During
      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
      and
      there was a formal meeting where I offered him the chance to tender for
      new
      projects in Chechnya, which is rich in oil and natural resources.
      I officially asked him to rebuild a cement factory in one of the
      provinces;
      the factory was the biggest of its kind in the Caucasus but much of it
      had
      been destroyed during the war. I asked him rebuild the factory and said
      he
      would be paid for his efforts at a later stage; he accepted and rebuilt
      the
      factory in an operation that involved 1,500 workers. The relatively
      small
      section that was rebuilt managed to produce more than 7,000 tonnes of
      cement.
      Q.5 It is possible that Russian intelligence will conduct operations
      against
      Russian civilians similarly to the way it did previously and that would
      be
      to make people side against you; what is your reply to the possibility
      of
      such operations?
      A.5 Most of the world today is against us. The crucifix is being raised
      anew
      and war is being declared against Islam and Muslims; this is proof that
      this
      war is like the Crusades where all of Europe's intelligence capabilities
      are
      geared towards providing Russia with information and other support. They
      are
      supporting the Russian Military by providing it with media support,
      international loans, important information - all of this is done openly
      or
      covertly. The European Council and other international bodies pretend to
      show that they sympathize with Chechnya and that they support human
      rights,
      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
      largely
      in the hands of the unbelievers; we do not have sufficient media to
      respond
      to their lies and rumours - they report whatever they want.
      Russia today is not just killing the Muslims of Chechnya, it is killing
      all
      of the Muslims under its rule. In the past century, Russia killed more
      than
      five million Circassians; they view the lives of Muslims as having the
      least
      value. There are books published by the Russian Government that depict
      through photography the way Muslims were killed and forced into exile -
      this
      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
      forbidden
      this. We only fight Russian soldiers who destroyed our country and want
      to
      push us away from our religion and our ideology. We do not care that
      their
      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
      them
      calling us names, all I care about is being honest in the face of Allah
      so
      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
      battle?
      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
      unbelievers
      are stepping on the necks of Muslims and are sucking their blood. The
      unbelievers have divided the lands of the Muslims and have created
      enmity
      and rifts among them.
      Today there are more than one billion Muslims; we are the biggest nation
      but
      also the weakest. Muslims disagree on small and insignificant things
      while
      forgetting what Allah has made obligatory upon them. After the
      obligation of
      Iman (believing) Muslims are obliged to free themselves from unbelievers
      who
      are dominating Muslim lands. The Ummah must unite behind one Caliph and
      live
      together under the rule of Islamic Sharia.
      As for my wound, I consider it a gift from Allah Most High. Nobody wants
      to
      go through hardship, but if this hardship is endured for the sake of
      Allah
      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
      the
      sake of Allah.
      The injury does not affect me at all. I ask Allah to give me the
      strength;
      walking with one leg is possible. I am not the first to lose a leg,
      there
      are many Mujahideen who have lost legs. I also do not face any problem
      on
      the battlefield; all praise be to Allah, there are many Mujahideen and
      assistants, and we use many means of communications to manage battles
      from a
      distance. Inshaa-Allah I will also rejoin the Mujahideen at the front
      lines
      in the upcoming battles.
      The Russians contacted me and said they wanted to negotiate; I replied
      to
      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
      Russia
      alone and Russia will not be able to do anything to stop us. For the
      time
      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
      everywhere. I
      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
      brother
      Movladi Ugudov and the second site is 'Voice of the Caucasus' which is
      in
      Arabic and 16 other languages and reports news from the frontline as
      well as
      details about military developments and events in Chechnya. The first
      site
      is primarily political and is focused at responding to the lies
      circulated
      by the Russian media.
      Editor's note: The above transcript was translated from Arabic; all
      words
      and sentences in brackets have been added by the editor for purposes of
      clarification. The transcript was taken almost word for word from a
      verbal
      interview and as such may not abide by a rigorous question-answer format
      and
      has taken a more conversational nature. (MindLink)
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