Self-proclaimed Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov named Ibragimkhalil Daudov, amir of Daghestan’s Central Sector, on May 9 as the new military and political head of the emirate’s “Daghestan vilayat.” Daudov, 50, is said to be an Afghan war veteran and former arms dealer who joined the insurgency ranks three years ago with his three sons, two of whom have since been killed. He took command of the fighting unit based in his home village of Gubden last summer after Umarov named its then leader, Magomed Vagapov (aka Seyfullakh Gubdensky), head of the Daghestan Front. In that capacity, Daudov commanded a string of operations last fall that earned him a reputation as “one of the most daring and dangerous fighters in the entire North Caucasus.”
Umarov’s two decrees dispel the lingering uncertainty over whether he survived the March 28 rocket attack on a training camp in Ingushetia in which his deputy, Supyan Abdullayev, was killed. Speculation that Umarov also died in that attack continued even after Umarov called RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service on April 7 to confirm he was alive and unharmed. Republic of Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told journalists last week that tests on the human remains recovered from the Verkhny Alkun base had not identified Umarov’s DNA and that he was therefore “more likely to be alive than dead.”
In his April 7 phone call, Umarov also told RFE/RL, in a presumed reference to the pro-Moscow Chechen authorities, that “they won’t receive any respite from me. I’m preparing my answer to them. They should expect news from me soon.” That statement clearly implied that Umarov’s men were preparing an attack. None has taken place, however, and it may well have been preempted by a counterterror operation launched in Grozny on April 25 against two fighters, identified as Musa Tashtamirov and Bekkhan Musayev, holed up in a high-rise apartment. The two reportedly detonated hand grenades and blew themselves up after using all their ammunition in a gun battle with Chechen Interior Ministry special forces.
Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov said later on April 25 the two men were members of a fighting unit headed by Said-Emin Dadayev, whom Kadyrov identified as one of Umarov’s subordinates. The Caucasus Emirate main website, kavkazcenter.com, has now posted a video clip honoring two young fighters killed in combat, “Saydi” and “Iskhak” — presumably the noms de guerre of the two who died on April 25.