Al Qaeda ‘coordinator’ killed in Russia

Makhachkala/Moscow, Aug 31 (RIA Novosti) One of the two militants killed in a shootout with the security forces in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Dagestan was an Algerian-born member of Al Qaeda, an official said Monday.

The militants were killed late Sunday in an operation carried out by the Federal Security Service (FSS) near the town of Khasavyurt, close to the border with Chechnya.

Two officers were injured in the clash, the FSS official said Monday.

“A foreign mercenary killed in the special operation has been identified. He is an Algerian national, Al Qaeda’s coordinator in Dagestan, known among the militants as Doctor Muhammad,” the official said.

Another security source in Dagestan said the Al Qaeda militant held French citizenship.

Doctor Muhammad had arranged for infiltrations of militants into Dagestan and neighbouring Ingushetia from Georgia and Azerbaijan.

He is known to have arrived in Russia’s North Caucasus in 1999 via Georgia. He was a member of the international terrorist Hattab’s group until 2007, responsible for organising a terrorist network in Chechnya.

“In 2007, he was sent to Dagestan with instructions to bring the local gangs under control, to ensure their funding from abroad and arrange for channels for militants to infiltrate into the republic,” an official said.

In the republic’s capital, Makhachkala, gunmen killed a police officer early Monday. “The criminals knocked at the door where the police officer lived and shot him five times,” a police spokesman said.

Militant attacks on troops, police and other officials have been reported almost daily in Dagestan and Russia’s other mainly Muslim North Caucasus republics in recent months.

On Aug 17, Ingushetia was rocked by a suicide bombing which killed at least 24 police officers and injured 136 others.

Following the blast, Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, returned to the republic after spending two months in Moscow recovering from serious injuries sustained in a car bomb attack on his motorcade earlier.