Circling the Lion's Den

Amir Magas captured by the FSB in Ingushetia

On June 9, 2010 FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov announced on June 9 that the Ingush field commander known as Amir Magas (real name Ali Taziev) was apprehended during a special operation earlier that day in Malgobek.

FSB officials claim Magas was apprehended by the FSB Special Purpose Center's troops without a struggle in a private house in Malgobek where he had been staying for several days.

Taziyev has been accused of staging an attack by militants on police and government offices in the city of Nazran in 2004 that killed 79 people, as well as a suicide bombing of the police headquarters there in 2009 that killed 24 and injured more than 200.

The confusion about Magas's true identity dates back to 2004. Magas is said to have joined the armed insurgency in 2003 and quickly become one of Basayev's lieutenants. On June 29, 2004, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted Major General Ilya Shabalkin, then spokesman for the Russian counterterrorism headquarters in the North Caucasus, as saying that Magas, aka Magomed Evloev, who played a key role in the multiple attacks on police and security facilities in Ingushetia one week earlier, had beenkilled the previous dayin a shootout in the village of Dalakovo. But the website ingushetiya.ru claimed that the militant killed was a different Magomed Evloyev, not Magas. (The name is very common in Ingushetia.)

Two months later, during the Beslan school hostage-taking, "Gazeta" on September 2, 2004, quoted an unnamed Russian military official as identifying the commander of the hostage-takers as Magomed Evloyev/Magas, one of Basayev's lieutenants. But on September 4, ingushetiya.ru claimed that Magas is not, in fact, Magomed Evloev but former Ingush police officer Ali Taziev.

Born in the village of Nasyrkort in Ingushetia's Nazran Raion, Taziev was an Ingushetian Interior Ministry employee who disappeared in October 1998 following the abduction in Nazran of the wife of a Russian official whom he and a colleague had been detailed to escort. All three were taken to Grozny. The woman was released in February 2000; Taziyev's colleague was found dead; and Taziev himself disappeared.

Magas reportedly participated in the September 1999 incursion into Daghestan led by Basayev and Khattab, and during the 1999-2000 war fought at various times under Basayev and the Saudi-born fighter Abu Al-Walid, and as commander of an independent group of fighters from Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Kalmykia. He was with Basayev during the retreat from Grozny in late January 2000 to Chechnya's southeastern Vedeno district, where he was given command of a group of fighters in the village of Dargo. Basayev reportedly named him commander of the Ingush Front in 2004. Doku Umarov named him commander of the entire Caucasus Front in September 2006.

See also at Agentura.Ru:

Sources:

  • Radio Free Europe 14.06.2010 "FSB Captures 'Legendary' Ingush Field Commander"
  • AP 9.06.2010 "Russian security chief says top rebel captured"