BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 22:40 GMT
Chechen rebel urges global jihad
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Grozny

Map of Chechnya
A Chechen Muslim rebel leader is reported to have described the US, Britain and Israel as legitimate targets in a jihad, or holy war.

Doku Umarov said it was not just the Russian security forces who deserved to be attacked.

The separatist leader said all those who fight Muslims anywhere in the world were enemies.

Other Chechen separatists have denounced the statement, which was sent to US-backed Radio Liberty.

It was made earlier this month, apparently to coincide with the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but a video of it has only just been received by the radio station.

Mr Umarov said: "Our brothers are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Palestine.

"Our common enemies are all those who have attacked Muslims wherever they are.

"Not only Russia, but also the USA, the UK, Israel and all those waging war against Islam and Muslims are our enemies."

'Criminal, provocation'

But it is hard to see what practical effect this statement will have.

The rebels in Chechnya are now largely confined to the mountains in the south of the Russian republic and attacks on the security forces are sporadic.

There are thought to be less than 1,000 fighters left after the second Chechen war, which was launched by Mr Putin eight years ago.

Even so, Mr Umarov's words have provoked a furious reaction from other Chechen separatists.

One, Ahmed Zakayev, who is now based in London, described the statement as "criminal and a provocation".

He is no doubt concerned it will result in the rebels being labelled as Islamic hardliners rather than separatists fighting for Chechnya to break away from Russian control.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific