He’s 46 years old and Russia’s new public enemy number one after he claimed the double attack on the Moscow underground.
He’s been reported killed or captured several times in the past, either by Russian toops or those of Moscow’s Chechen strongman Ahmad Kadyrov, but Doku Oumarov keeps on popping up. Otherwise known as Emir Abu Ousman, he took control of the rebel movement in the Caucasus three years ago.
He proclaimed himself Emir of a new Islamic Caucasian Emirates comprising six Russian republics, from Dagestan in the east to Karatchaevo-Tcherkessie in the west. He intends to impose sharia law there.
He became leader after Russia eliminated his predecessors; in June 2006 Abdul Khalim Saidoullaiev was gunned down by Russian forces.
A year before that Aslan Maskhadov, a Chechen advocate of independence had been killed. He had been elected in 1997, and called for a dialogue with Moscow several times before taking up arms and military leadership in the second Chechen war.
Shamir Bassaiev was the author of the Dubrovka theatre seige in Moscow in 2002, the Beslan school hostage tragedy in 2004, and scores of other attacks. He became Oumarov’s vice president, but met a violent end just a month later.
Like a hydra the Caucasian rebels regrow heads as soon as they are chopped off, and it seems each new leader is more radical than the last.
“Obviously the Russian security services were too preoccupied with the destruction of significant, symbolic figures, being sure that if they eliminated
insurgent cheifs they would solve the problem. But the system has shown it doesn’t work.”
He may constantly be on the move with a price on his head, hunted by the Russians and Kadyrov’s Chechens, but Oumarov claims he commands thousands of Mujahaddin. His statements are ambiguous; he denies being an Islamic extremist and insists he just wants independence, condemning violence and terrorism against civilians.
Yet it is he who claims the Moscow bombings, and the bombing of the Moscow-St Petersburg train last November which killed 27 people. Today he says these attacks were repraisals for Russian crimes in the Caucasus.