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PA bans Hamas clerics from preaching






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Photo by: AP [file]
PA bans Hamas clerics from preaching
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
29/08/2010
Police raid two mosques near Hebron, stopping sermons.
Palestinian Authority security personnel used force to prevent two prominent Hamas figures from delivering sermons during Friday prayers, triggering clashes with worshipers.

The violence erupted after dozens of PA policemen raided two mosques in the Hebron area where Hamas legislators Nayef Rajoub and Muhammad Abu Jhaisheh were supposed to deliver the Friday khutba (sermon).

The clashes prompted the PA to close down the mosques, forcing enraged worshipers to search for alternative prayer sites.

Rajoub, who was minister for Wakf affairs in the Hamas-led unity government with Fatah more than three years ago, said that policemen in plain clothes approached him soon after he entered a mosque in his home village of Dura and warned him not to deliver the sermon.

“When I asked them for a written order, they assaulted me,” he said. “When some of the people inside the mosque tried to intervene, the policemen also beat them, and arrested some of them.”

Rajoub, who was released from an Israeli prison on June 20 after serving a 50-month sentence, accused the PA of waging a “war against mosques and Islam in collusion with Israel.”

Rajoub said that he has been serving as a preacher for nearly 30 years. He added that despite the ban, he would continue to lead Friday prayers and deliver sermons.

“Jewish settlers are torching mosques, the Israeli army is demolishing mosques and the Palestinian Authority is expelling preachers,” he said.

Nayef Rajoub is the brother of Jibril Rajoub, a former PA security commander and one of the prominent leaders of Fatah in the West Bank, who was one of the first to conduct security coordination with Israel. The former security commander is known for his ruthless crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank.

The second incident took place in the village of Idna, also in the Hebron area.

Eyewitnesses said that Palestinian security agents stopped Abu Jhaisheh shortly after he entered a mosque and demanded that he refrain from delivering the sermon.

Last week, Hamas accused the PA of “waging war on Islam and Allah” by arresting and firing hundreds of preachers and imams, closing down mosques and Islamic religious centers and imposing restrictions on religious figures suspected of being affiliated with Hamas.





Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Fatah-dominated security forces in the West Bank, confirmed that his men had entered the mosques to prevent Rajoub and Abu Jhaisheh from addressing worshipers.

“These mosques don’t belong to Hamas,” he said, denying that the police had beaten anyone.

He also denied that the two mosques had been closed down.

Damiri said that the move against the mosques was taken in light of information suggesting that Hamas was preparing to export its “coup” to the West Bank.

“They are operating on instructions from [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal,” he said. “They want to create chaos that would start in the mosques. Their goal is to take over the West Bank.”

PA bans Hamas clerics from preaching

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Power Struggle Among Russia’s Militants


Published on STRATFOR (http://www.stratfor.com)
Power Struggle Among Russia’s Militants
Created Aug 19 2010 – 10:56
[1]
Not Limited Open Access
By Ben West and Lauren Goodrich

On Aug. 12, four members of the militant group the Caucasus Emirate [2] (CE) appeared in a video posted on a Russian militant website withdrawing their support from CE founder
and leader Doku Umarov. The reason for the mutiny was Umarov!s Aug. 4 retraction of his
Aug. 1 announcement that he was stepping down from the top leadership position [3].
STRATFOR and many others noted at the time that the Aug. 1 resignation was
unexpected and suggested that Umarov may have been killed. However, the Aug. 4
retraction revealed that Umarov was still alive and that there was considerable confusion
over who was in control of the militant group.

The mutineers were all high-level members of the militant group: Hussein Gakayev,
commander of the CE!s Chechen forces; Aslambek Vadalov, commander of Dagestani
forces and to whom Umarov had briefly turned over control in his Aug. 1 resignation; an
Arab commander named Muhannad; and a veteran field commander known as Tarkhan.
The four CE commanders said Umarov!s renunciation showed disrespect for his
subordinates and that, while the four leaders continued to pledge support to the CE, they
no longer supported Umarov. Gakayev, Tarkhan and Muhannad had all appeared in a
video that aired Aug. 1 in which they supported Umarov!s decision to appoint Vadalov CE
emir.

To further confuse the issue, a video released Aug. 11 by Emir Adam, the CE leader in
Ingushetia, pledged his and his followers! loyalty to Umarov. The next day, another video
appeared featuring the group’s new leader in Dagestan, Emir Seyfullakh Gubdensky (who
succeeded Vadalov after he became deputy leader of the CE), similarly endorsing
Umarov!s reclamation of the top CE post.

These disparate messages from top leaders paint a picture of confusion and dissension in
the CE that appears to mark a serious crisis for a group, which, until recently, had been
consolidating militant groups across the Caucasus under a single, more strategic
leadership structure. STRATFOR has collected insight from sources familiar with the
group and its leadership turmoil that explains what happened and the nature of the threat
that the CE poses to Russian security in the Caucasus.

The Inside Story
According to a Russian source, the confusion caused by Umarov!s apparent indecision
over the CE leadership position was a deliberate operation by Russia’s Federal Security
Service [4] (FSB). According to that source, the operation that ultimately appears to have
undermined Umarov!s position as leader of the CE began in early 2010. However, the
FSB received intelligence only over the past two months that set the stage for executing
the operation. That intelligence allegedly came from the CE!s former leader in Ingushetia,
Emir Ali Taziyev, who was arrested by the FSB on June 9 in an Ingushetian village.

Taziyev allegedly provided the FSB information on the CE!s training, ideology, weapons
procurement and leadership structure. This information then allowed the FSB to activate a
sleeper agent, Movladi Udugov, who served directly under Umarov as the CE!s head of
media and publicity. According to our source, Udugov was responsible for the
unauthorized release of the video in which Umarov announced that he was stepping down
and named Vadalov as his successor.

The story goes that Umarov had recorded the video with the intent of saving it and
releasing it only in the event of his demise. This would ensure that a crisis of succession
wouldn’t erupt because of his death or disappearance. The fact that Vadalov was named
as his successor on July 25 means that each of the regional leaders within the CE had
likely agreed to the decision. It is important to note that the leadership crisis did not occur
because Vadalov was assigned to the post, but because Umarov appeared to have
stepped down and then reclaimed his title. Udugov provided the crucial blow to Umarov!s
status as leader of the CE by releasing the resignation video prematurely, laying the
foundation for dissension among Umarov!s followers.

The resulting flurry of approval and disapproval from the CE!s corps of commanders
shows just how damaging the videos were. We have to be critical of the Russian source’s
account of how all of this transpired, since the source is likely interested in promoting the
FSB!s capabilities and its penetration of Russia’s most dangerous militant group. The
account is logical, however, since it does explain the unusual sequence of videos, and the
FSB is capable of infiltrating such a group. There are, of course, other explanations for
what could have motivated Udugov to release the tape: Perhaps he was trying to trigger a
power struggle within the group on his own, or perhaps someone else inside the CE
obtained the tape and released it in hopes of weakening Umarov or promoting Vadalov.
However, it is very unlikely that the release was a mistake, since Umarov and his
commanders have proved very competent at running a successful militant movement.
Looking deeper, it becomes obvious that a video alone would not have caused dissension
on the scale that we are seeing now within the CE. Had everything been perfect in the CE
and had Umarov enjoyed unwavering support, he could have dismissed the video as an
attempt to undermine his authority, promised to punish those responsible and gone on
with business. It is very apparent that Umarov was not able to do this. The release of the
videos exacerbated divisions among CE factions that Umarov and his deputies were trying
to consolidate. By releasing the video of Umarov stepping down as commander, Udugov
(allegedly under FSB guidance) forced the divisions into the public spotlight.

According to our Russian source, the resignation scandal has split the CE three ways. The
first split concerns operational security. The CE knew that penetrating the group was a top
priority for the FSB and that it had to remain vigilant against outsiders attempting to do just
that. Simply the allegation that one of Umarov!s top advisers was working for the FSB
undermines the sense of operational security throughout the entire group. Already,
accusations of FSB involvement in the CE leadership crisis have emerged in the open-
source network, on sites like globaljihad.net. In such an atmosphere, the level of trust
among commanders decreases (as they begin to wonder who is reporting to the FSB) and
the level of paranoia increases. Infighting at the top of any organization can quickly create
operational gridlock and reduce the organization’s effectiveness. This is exactly why the
Russians might try to claim credit for the tape’s release, even if they were not responsible.
The second split is generational and ideological. According to our source, a younger
faction of the CE (led by Vadalov) has accused Umarov and his cadre of not protecting
the ideological unity of the CE. It is no secret that Umarov is much more experienced in
and knowledgeable of military strategy and tactics, while his background in Islamism is
weak. He has bungled religious protocol and terminology a number of times, undermining
his authority as emir of the group. Meanwhile, the older, more military-oriented faction
accuses the younger faction of being willing to work with Moscow and sell out the
movement.

The third and possibly most volatile fault line is the tension between regional groups within
the Caucasus Emirate. The northern Caucasus republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, North
Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan each have their own, independent histories
of militancy, with Chechen militants traditionally being Moscow’s highest-profile
antagonists. Without the support of the Chechen commander of the CE (Khusein

Gakayev, who withdrew his support for Umarov in the Aug. 12 video), Umarov has a
serious deficit of support in controlling the Caucasus Emirate. The advantage of having
the support of the current Ingushetian and Dagestani militant leaders is diluted by the fact
that Chechnya geographically lies directly between them, rendering any trans-Caucasus
network incomplete. Also, Chechens have been the more successful leaders of militant
movements in the Caucasus. Umarov himself is Chechen, as was Shamil Basayev [5], a
commander of Chechen separatist forces in two wars against Russia.

Threat and Inherent Weaknesses
It is exactly because of Doku Umarov!s ability to bring together militants of different
motivations, generations and locations under the umbrella of the Caucasus Emirate that
made his group so threatening to the Russian state. As a unified militant group, the CE
proved capable of launching a suicide attack against Moscow’s subway system [6] in March
2010 and carrying out relatively sophisticated attacks [7] targeting security forces and
infrastructure. The CE leadership structure provided strategic guidance to the individual
militant groups operating in the separate republics that actually carried out the attacks.
With the recent crisis in leadership, these capabilities will likely be severely weakened.
Umarov announced the formation of the CE only in 2007, which means the group was just
three years old when the leadership turmoil broke out Aug. 1. This is precious little time to
consolidate militant groups across a region with sharp geographic fragmentation that
traditionally has caused groups to be isolated and independent. Moscow has had plenty of
problems controlling the region and is faced with the same geographic challenges as the
Caucasus Emirate. A different source familiar with the CE said that Umarov has most
recently attempted to consolidate the CE by broadcasting his statements in different
languages, such as Avar, which is widely spoken in Dagestan. But Avar is only one of 10
languages spoken across Dagestan alone, which makes communicating efficiently to an
audience across the Caucasus a difficult task.

That same source has said that the CE has had trouble moving food, supplies, weapons
and people across the Caucasus (this effort is complicated by Russian security forces as
well as geography), which means that each group is responsible for providing for itself.
This prevents standardization across the militant movement and complicates cooperation
among groups. It also reduces the reliance of regional militant groups on the Caucasus
Emirate leadership, decreasing Umarov!s control over the movement. If militant
commanders in Chechnya are supplying and recruiting on their own, they are less likely to
take orders on what to do with those resources from detached leaders. However, lack of
unity among the groups does not necessarily make them less able to carry out the small-
scale attacks that are common in the Caucasus. On Aug. 17, five days after a split in the
CE leadership became apparent, a suicide bomber (most likely affiliated with a group
linked to the CE) attacked a police checkpoint along the border of Ingushetia and North
Ossetia.

Militant groups existed in the Caucasus long before the Caucasus Emirate was formed
and will continue to exist long after it is gone. The strategic importance of the Caucasus [8]
and the fragmentation of its inhabitants due to ethnicity, culture and geography (which
makes for ideal guerrilla-warfare terrain), ensure that whoever attempts to control the
region will face serious challenges from local populations who want to govern themselves.
With varying levels of success, these groups will continue to use violence to undermine
their respective governments, especially those seen as Moscow’s lackeys.

Indeed, even though the Caucasus Emirate may be seriously disrupted by recent turmoil
in its leadership structure, the regional militant groups that made up the CE will certainly

continue to conduct attacks against security forces and even civilians as they try to loosen
Moscow!s control over the region. But the turmoil will reduce the strategic threat the
combined efforts of these disparate groups had posed to Moscow for the foreseeable
future.

Terrorism/Security Ben West and Lauren Goodrich Russia Security Weekly
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Source URL: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100818_power_struggle_among_russias_militants
Links:
[1] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/burton_and_stewart_on_security?fn=6716995385
[2] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100414_caucasus_emirate?fn=5216944911
[3] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20100802_russia_militant_leader_steps_down?fn=4216944999
[4] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20100611_russia_fsbs_powers_expanded?fn=8916944994
[5] http://www.stratfor.com/russia_win_chechnya_not_victory?fn=8216944961
[6] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20100329_red_alert_bombing_moscow_special_intelligence_guidance?
fn=4816944916
[7] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20100331_russia_sophisticated_attack_dagestan?fn=5216944922
[8] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100706_caucasus_cauldron?fn=3916944916
 
Power Struggle Among Russia’s Militants is republished with permission of STRATFOR.