So I blogged a couple of weeks ago about foreign fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly about Chechens. Of course, the idea that there are a bunch of Chechens in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a silly myth that keeps trotting along. At the time I mentioned a widely reported “Chechen” incident that had just occurred in Pakistan. Apparently a bunch of Chechens were killed at a checkpoint in Pakistan. I knew they weren’t Chechens, but the media kept reporting it a such. Anyways, a Russian diplomat has now confirmed, after a delay in information being provided, that none of the 5 Russian citizens killed are ethnic Chechens.
So they are not Chechens at all. That’s because there are no Chechens in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Unbelievably, the Pakistani government was refusing to provide information to the Russians. The Kremlin had to summon the Pakistani ambassador before they relented. The Russian newspaper Kommersant (Russian link) has done a lot more digging on the background of those killed. First of all, one of them is from Tajikistan. That leaves the other four as Russian citizens.
First up are the women (link to a photo of one of the women dying on the ground). One of the dead women is named Patimat Magomedova, she’s from Dagestan. The other woman is a 19-year-old woman from Siberia named Olga Schroeder (ethnic Germans in the former Soviet Union speak Russian and take slavic first names). She had moved to Moscow for university, but dropped out to convert to Islam and marry an older Muslim. She was seven months pregnant when killed. Her page on “Odnoklassniki” (a sort of Russian facebook-type website) is filled with condolences from friends, as well as apologies and regrets at not being able to save her. She seems to have embraced the most violent, extreme jihadi version of Islam. Her last post on her page is a link to a lecture by Alexander Tikhomirov, the half Buryat-Russian convert (Buryats are Buddhists or into shamanism) who became a popular terrorist leader in the north Caucasus. He was killed last year by Russian forces in Ingushetia.
Interfax (Russian link) reports that the two males killed are named Abdul Aziz (I doubt that’s his legal/full name) and Khatimat Magomedov (obviously Patimat’s husband). These guys are from the north Caucasus, but aren’t Chechen.
Anyways, I still expect people to misidentify people as Chechens, especially when they are dead.
Number of confirmed Chechen fighters/terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan since 9/11? Zero.
Earlier blog entries on Chechens in Afghanistan: