On June 17, 2006, one of the more senior Chechen rebels,Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, was killed by loyalist Chechen forces. Sadulayev was shot and killed in Argun, a town not far from Grozny, the Chechen capital that has been victimized by the ongoing Chechen Rebel insurgency. Sadulayev replaced Aslan Maskhadov as the leader of the rebel insurgency after Maskhadov was killed (WAR Report and WAR Report) by Russian forces.
In what has become a brutal and gruesome tradition, loyalist Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to display Sadulayev’s body publicly in an effort to dissuade Sadulayev’s followers and to instill fear among Chechen separatists. Kadyrov proclaimed: “The terrorists have been virtually beheaded. They have sustained a severe blow, and they are never going to recover from it.”
Today, Kadyrov is described as the most powerful man in Chechenya. He is the acting prime minister and leader of the Russian-backed anti-terrorist squad that is tasked with eliminating the relentless Islamic insurgency and curtailing the rampant lawlessness in the region. From its headquarters in the village of Tsentoroy, the squadron conducts their brutal campaign and claims victories such as the one that has now eliminated the latest rebel commander. The squads fierce approach has been widely criticized by human rights groups that condemn their excessive use of torture and forced disappearances, , allegations Kadyrov denies and the Kremlin chooses to blissfully ignore.
While Kadyrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin hail the death of Sadulayev as an indicator that the rebel movement is waning, caution must be exercised in making such broad assertions. Abdul-Khalim Saydyllayev is the fourth consecutive rebel leader to be killed by the anti-terrorist squad with previous leaders quickly replaced by more junior and ideological members off the struggle. Various Chechen websites are indicating that the more radical terrorist, Doku Umarov, has already assumed leadership of the insurgency. Umarov, as the ?vice-president? of the separatist movement, would automatically fill the void left by Saydyllayev should the leader be killed or immobilized. Umarov has been fighting the Russian forces for over a decade and purportedly controls a substantial army numbering in the hundreds. Furthermore, he has clear associations to Shamil Basayev , Chechnya?s number one terrorist and the mastermind behind the Moscow theatre and the Beslan school massacres among other attacks. Saydyllayev also operated in close collaboration with Basayev and together they administered the insurgency?s expansion to neighboring vicinities in the North Caucasus region .
The future peace and stability of the region in the near term seems highly unlikely as victories, such as the death of the brutal insurgent leader Saydyllayev?s, is quickly overshadowed by the succession of other more radical leaders In recent months the violence in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan has escalated with suicide bombings, kidnappings and assassinations occurring incessantly. Chechnya is thus still at great risk of reverting to its past state of total anarchism.