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Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JAMWA)

Formed in February 2013, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JAMWA) is a Chechen-led terrorist organization based in Syria that consists primarily of foreign fighters. Cooperating with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including al-Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), JAMWA has launched deadly assaults against civilian communities, and kidnapped civilians and other foreigners in Syria.

As part of the effort to counter the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, on September 24, 2014 the US Department of State designated ten individuals and two groups as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions and penalties on terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of the designations, all property subject to US jurisdiction in which these individuals or groups have any interest is blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them or to their benefit.

Among the legions of foreign fighters who have turned the Islamic State into the worlds most dangerous terrorist organization, the Chechens stand out. In all, hundreds of fighters from Russias North Caucasus, where Chechnya is located, and other Russian-speaking regions are believed to be fighting in Syria and Iraq, alongside the Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked groups like the Al-Nusra Front. The Chechens arent the largest group among the thousands of foreigners in Syria, but they may be playing an outsized role, as many, battle-hardened by years fighting Russian forces, help spearhead the Islamic States sweeping successes through Syria and Iraq.

The fighters from the Caucasus, they have experience in fighting professional militaries, the Russians, theyve been doing guerrilla warfare for decades and this experience is translating to the battlefield. They tend to be tactically proficient. Many of those fighters joined the fight in Syria early on, as the uprising that began in 2011 morphed into a chaotic civil war.

Gordon M. Hahn of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation noted that despite having an ambivalent attitude towards the emigration of Caucasus Emirate (CE) mujahedin to Syria, Chechen warlord Doku Umarov appears to have backed three key amirs who made the hijra and took over leading positions in the Syrian jihad: Tarkhan Batirashvili (jihadi nom de guerre Abu Umar al-Shishani or Abu Umar the Chechen), Muslim Margoshvili (Abu Walid), and (Seifullah al-Shishani) Ruslan Machaliashvili (sometimes Meslikaev).

According to Hahn "Through 2012 hundreds of North Caucasian mujahedin and other emigres or muhajirin from Russia, Eurasia, Europe and the Muslim world began to consolidate around the Chechen amirs through 2012. By late 2012 they formed the brigade Kataib al-Mujahirin (KaM), with Batirashvili serving as its amir, and allied with the AQ-affiliated Jabkhat al-Nusra. In March 2013, Batirashvili received the bayat or Islamic loyalty oath from two Syrian rebel units, Kataib Khattab and Jeish Muhammad, which included some 600 fighters who joined the KaM.11 According to the IKs main website, Kavkaz tsentr, the KaM, renamed Jeish Mukhajirin va Ansar (the Army of Emirants and Helpers) or JMA, now numbered more than a thousand militants.... Batirashvili took the lifetime bayat to ISIS amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and was promoted to the ISISs overall military amir in late October."

On 24 September 2014 Batirashvili was added to the Specially Designated Nationals List. BATIRASHVILI, Tarkhan Tayumurazovich (a.k.a. AL-SHISHANI, Abu Umar; a.k.a. AL-SHISHANI, Omar; a.k.a. BATIRASHVILI, Tarkhan; a.k.a. BATYRASHVILI, Tarkhan Tayumurazovich; a.k.a. SHISHANI, Omar; a.k.a. SHISHANI, Umar; a.k.a. "Abu Hudhayfah"; a.k.a. "Abu Umar"; a.k.a. "Chechen Omar"; a.k.a. "Omar the Chechen"; a.k.a. "Omer the Chechen"; a.k.a. "Umar the Chechen"); DOB 11 Jan 1986; alt. DOB 1982; POB Akhmeta, Village Birkiani, Georgia; citizen Georgia.

Batirashvili has assumed a very prominent military command role within IS Syria-based operations, with him likely being the most senior operational military commander in Syria, said Charles Lister, a well-regarded analyst and a visiting analyst with the Brookings Doha Center think-tank, said. The large majority of IS most high-profile offensives on the Syrian side of the border have been connected in some way or another with (his) leadership, he said.

Murad Margoshvili, known as Muslim al Shishani, reportedly served in the air defense division of the Soviet army in Moldova and fought alongside a key leader in the Chechen terrorist circles more than a decade ago. Margoshvili, who heads a Chechen regiment called Junud al Sham, was one of a dozen individuals hit with State Department sanctions 24 September 2014. Like Batirashvili, he is notable for having a long red beard. Elaborately produced videos showing Margoshvili training fighters have been circulating in recent weeks on some YouTube channels.

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Page last modified: 27-09-2014 20:05:05 ZULU