NARRATIVE SUMMARIES OF REASONS FOR LISTING
QE.S.101.03. SPECIAL PURPOSE ISLAMIC REGIMENT (SPIR)
Date on which the narrative summary became available on the Committee’s website: 7 September 2010
The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR) was listed on 4 March 2003 pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2 of resolution 1390 (2002) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida (QE.A.4.01).
The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR) is linked to the Islamic International Brigade (IIB) (QE.I.99.03) and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03).
On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of SPIR, RSRSBCM and IIB operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater. The attackers threatened that unless the Russian Government met their demands they would kill the hostages. They said that they were prepared to kill themselves and the hostages by blowing up the theater. One hundred and twenty-nine hostages died during the rescue mounted by the Government of the Russian Federation.
A website affiliated with Chechen separatist groups, the Kavkaz Center, also identified one of the leaders of the hostage-takers in the Dubrovka Theater to be Movsar Barayev, the then-commander of SPIR and also a commander of RSRSBCM (Barayev died in the Dubrovka Theater incident). SPIR, which had been headed by Barayev and his uncle, the late Arbi Barayev, provided leadership and personnel to RSRSBCM, headed by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased), for its takeover of the Dubrovka Theater. In fact, the Dubrovka Theater incident was originally attributed solely to SPIR since Barayev was the first publicly identified leader of the operation.
SPIR and IIB and their leaders are closely linked and have cooperated from the period between the two Chechen wars (1997-1999) until the present. While its existence was unknown prior to the Dubrovka Theater incident, RSRSBCM has drawn its members and leaders from IIB and SPIR. In addition to their participation in the 23 October terrorist attack on the Dubrovka Theater, IIB, SPIR and RSRSBCM have been linked to other terrorist attacks, or have threatened terrorist attacks, against both civilian and government targets.
On 16 June 2001, Barayev, the then commander of SPIR, claimed that his fighters had executed the head of the “occupation federation” (i.e. an appointed local mayor loyal to the Government of the Russian Federation) at his home in the village of Gekhi. The mayor’s wife and a Russian officer were also killed. In July 2001, Barayev claimed that a “special purpose group” of SPIR had executed Alkhan-Kala resident Dzhapar Khazuyev as a “proven” traitor. After the Dubrovka Theater hostage-taking, SPIR reportedly took part in several actions in December 2002 under its new leader Khamzat, who had been Barayev’s deputy.
Numerous ties link the leadership of these entities with Al-Qaida (QI.A.4.01), the Taliban and Usama bin Laden (deceased). Then SPIR commander Arbi Barayev sent at least one group of his fighters to train in Taliban‑controlled areas of Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. In late 1999, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Barayev and Al-Khattab, who was also a leader of IIB, to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries, and buying ammunition. Before his death in December 2002, a deputy leader of IIB, Abu Tariq, who was also involved in channeling funds from foreign sources to Chechen extremists, had received several million dollars from international terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida.
Al-Khattab (while leader of IIB) publicly admitted that he spent the period between 1989 and 1994 in Afghanistan and that he had met Bin Laden. In March 1994, Basayev arrived in Afghanistan and toured fighter training camps in Khost province. He returned to Afghanistan with the first group of Chechen militants in May 1994. Basayev underwent training in Afghanistan and had close connections with Al-Qaida. Several hundred Chechens eventually trained in Al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. With Al‑Qaida’s financial support, Al-Khattab also mobilized fighters from Ingushetia, Ossetia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to fight in Chechnya and Dagestan. By August 1995, substantial numbers of those fighting against Russian troops were “Afghan Arabs” (Arabs who had combat experience in Afghanistan against Soviet troops). The support was often reciprocated. Al-Qaida’s select “055 Brigade,” which fought against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, included a number of Chechens, many of whom were believed to be followers of Basayev, Barayev and Al-Khattab. In October 2001, Al-Khattab sent additional fighters to Afghanistan and promised to pay the volunteers’ families a substantial monthly stipend or a large lump-sum payment in the event of their death. In 2002, Al-Qaida was attempting to raise USD 2 million to support Abu al-Walid, who had succeeded Ibn al-Khattab in the leadership of IIB as the new Arab Chechen leader.
Related listed individuals and entities:
Al-Qaida (QE.A.4.01), listed on 6 October 2001
Islamic International Brigade (IIB) (QE.I.99.03), listed on 4 March 2003
Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03), listed on 4 March 2003
Usama Muhammed Awad bin Laden (QI.B.8.01), listed on 25 January 2001