'Chechnya Beku'

Title: Chechnya Beku (Frozen Chechnya)
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Year: 1995 (The Year Russia Attacked Chechnya)
Artist: 'Ahusni'


Samir Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem (Arabic: سامر صالح عبد الله السويلم‎) (April 14, 1969 – March 20, 2002), more commonly known as Emir Khattab (also transliterated as Amir Khattab and Ameer Khattab) meaning Commander Khattab, or Leader Khattab, and also known as Habib Abdul Rahman, was a Muslim guerilla fighter and financier working with Chechen Mujahideen in the First Chechen War and the Second Chechen War.

The origins and real identity of Khattab remained a mystery to most until after his death, when his brother gave an interview to the press.[1] Khattab was born in Saudi Arabia to an Arab father and a Circassian mother.


Central Asia and the Balkans
At the age of 16, Khattab left Saudi Arabia to participate in the fight against the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. During this time, he permanently incapacitated his right hand and lost several fingers after an accident with improvised explosives.

Armenian sources claim that in 1992 he was one of many Chechen volunteers who aided Azerbaijan in the embattled region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where he allegedly met Shamil Basayev, however the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence denied any involvement by Khattab in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.[2][3]
From 1993 to 1995, Khattab left to fight alongside Islamic opposition in the Tajikistan Civil War. Before leaving for Tajikstan in 1994, Al-Khattab gave Abdulkareem Khadr a pet rabbit of his own, which was promptly named Khattab.

In an interview Khattab once mentioned he had also been involved in the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fragment of this interview in which he makes this statement can be found in the 2004 BBC documentary The Smell of Paradise. His exact role or the duration of his presence there remain subject of debate.

First Chechen War
According to his brother, he first heard about the Chechen conflict on an Afghan television channel in 1995; that same year he entered Chechnya, posing as a television reporter. He was credited as being a pioneer in producing video footage of Chechen rebel combat operations in order to aid fundraising efforts and demoralize the enemy.
During the First Chechen War, Khattab participated in fighting Russian forces and acted as an intermediary financier between foreign Muslim funding sources and the local fighters. To help secure funding and spread the message of resistance, he was frequently accompanied by at least one cameraman for propaganda purposes.

His units were credited with several devastating ambushes on Russian columns in the Chechen mountains. His first action was the October 1995 ambush of a Russian convoy which killed 3 soldiers.[4] Khattab gained early fame and a great notoriety in Russia for his April 1996 ambush of a large armored column in a narrow gorge of Yaryshmardy, near Shatoy, which killed up to 220 soldiers and destroyed some two or three dozen vehicles.

In the course of the war, Shamil Basayev became his closest ally and personal friend. He was also associated with Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who gave Khattab two of the highest Chechen military awards, the Order of Honor and the Brave Warrior medal, and promoted him to the rank of general.
A senior Chechen commander by the name of Izmailov told press how Khattab urged restraint, citing the Koran, at the end of the war when the Chechens wanted to shoot those they considered traitors.[5]

After the conclusion of the war, Khattab, by then wanted by Interpol on Russia's request, became a prominent warlord and commanded the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya, his own private army with a group of Arabs, Turks and other foreign fighters who had come to participate in the war. He set up a network of paramilitary camps in the mountainous parts of the republic that trained not only Chechens, but also Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and Central Asia.

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