Russia kills ISIS leader in Dagestan

Russia has dealt a strong blow to ISIS’ presence in the country by killing the “emir” of Dagestan.

A warlord suspected of being behind multiple terror attacks in the North Caucasus and four of his accomplices have been killed in a police operation in Dagestan, local police said Sunday.

The five were killed late Saturday on the outskirts of the regional capital, Makhachkala, in a gun battle with security forces, police spokeswoman Fatina Ubaydatova said.

Russian state television showed special and armored vehicles taking up positions to surround a two-story house nestled at the foot of mountains that flank Makhachkala to the west.

The regional office of the Russian Investigative Committee identified one of the five as 35-year old Rustam Aselderov, the “emir” of the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the region, who was wanted for his suspected role in several attacks, including a double bombing in 2013 on a bus and at a train station in southern Russia that killed a total of 34 people.

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, has become the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya. Despite government efforts to clamp down on the insurgency, shootouts and bombings are routine.

Russian security agency FSB said in a statement on Sunday that Aselderov, although operating in Dagestan, pledged allegiance to the ISIS group in 2014. ISIS named Aselderov, also known as Sheikh Abu Mohammad al-Qadari, as the governor of a new Caucasus province.

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In 2015, the US State Department imposed sanctions on Aselderov as a “foreign terrorist fighter” after the jihadi group appointed him leader of the region.

The FSB posted a long list of suicide attacks in Dagestan and bombings elsewhere that Aselderov was suspected to have masterminded, including a foiled suicide attack by two women on Red Square in Moscow on New Year’s Eve in 2010.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff