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RMSMCBlog Media Coverage

Attack on Tatarstan Muftis July 2012

Ralph Davis RMSMCBlog 2 August 2012

CONTENTS
19 July 2012
Russia plans drills to determine actual "Wahhabization" of Tatarstan Attacks target voices of moderate Islam in central Russia Senior Muslim clerics targeted in "series of attacks" in Russia's Tatarstan Russian Muslim leaders condemn attack on senior clerics in Tatarstan Homicide attempt on mufti classified as terrorist act - Markin Putin pledged that mufti's assassins would be found Tatarstan police chief controls probe into attack on mufti Russian Muslim leader injured in car bomb and deputy shot dead Russian paper says murdered mufti warned of Wahhabi influence in Tatarstan Car bomb targets Muslim leader in Russian republic Attack on mufti in Russia's Tatarstan seen as "attack on traditional Islam" Conflicting theories surround attacks on Russian Muslim clerics Interception plan activated in Tatarstan after attempt on mufti Russian experts link attacks on Tatarstan mufti to crackdown on Islamic radicals Muslim leaders targeted in twin attacks in Russia's Tartarstan Russia shocked by twin attacks on Islamic clerics Tatarstan Attacks Spark Fears That Islamist Threat Is Spreading Attacks Target Tatarstan Muslim Leader Top Muslim cleric Yakupov gunned down in Russia Tatarstan Spiritual Leader Injured in Car Blast Kazan incident a terror attack - Russia's Muftis Council Murder of Tatarstan mufti and his deputy could be work related Putin's envoy was warned that Tatarstan mufti could be attacked in April - Perm mufti New rules of distributing hajj tours could be behind Tatarstan attacks - Russian lawmaker Kazan attacks could be rooted in Tatarstan official policy All-Russian Muftis Board Wahabis behind attacks on Tatarstan Muslim leaders Kadyrov Tatarstan Mufti Injured, Aide Killed In Separate Attacks

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20 July 2012
Putin instructs police quickly investigate attack on Muslim clerics One-million-ruble reward announced for information on mufti's assassins Muslim cleric slain, another hurt in Russia 2 Russian Muslim leaders are targets of rare attacks Four men suspected of attempt to kill Mufti of Tatarstan detained Five detained in Kazan on suspicion of murder & homicide attempt Fifth suspect in attempt on mufti's life detained Five suspects detained over assaults on Muslim officials Muslim leaders attacked in Russia Russian envoy suspects money, beliefs behind attack on Muslim clerics Tatarstan's mufti and his deputy paid a price for their anti-Wahhabi efforts Muslims of Russia denounce attempt on Mufti of Tatarstan's life Chief Mufti Injured, Deputy Dead in Two Attacks in Kazan Russian imam's suspected killers detained Fifth Suspect Held Over Kazan Mufti Bombing Berel Lazar: any compromise with terrorists inspires them towards more violence Five Arrested In Tatar Attacks Mosques of Southern Russia start Ramadan with prayers for assassinated Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan

21 July 2012
Five held for attacks in Tatarstan Analyst skeptical about theory that attacks on Tatarstan Muslim leaders motivated by business

23 July 2012
Sixth man suspected of involvement in attacks on Tatarstan clerics detained

24 July 2012
Attacked Russian mufti's key opponent now in UK, not answering calls Mufti of Tatarstan wounded in terrorist act leaves hospital Tatarstan risks following Dagestan's steps pundit Attack on Tatarstan mufti no commercial dispute

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Tatarstan Muftis Main Opponent Resigns, Goes to London

25 July 2012
Police accused of unlawfully detaining up to 600 Muslims in Russia's Tatarstan Shaimiev: Our People Love and Cherish Our Traditional Islam Following Mufti Attacks, Tatar Officials Seek To Control Narrative Russia: the jihad spreads north. Terror comes to Tatarstan

26 July 2012
Tatar officials are powerless before Wahabis, republic turns into second Dagestan expert

27 July 2012
Injured Muslim Leader Forgives His Bombers Custodial term of Uzbek suspect in attacks on Tatarstan spiritual leaders upheld Analysis: Fight over Islam, money and power brings violence to Volga

29 July 2012
Muslims of Tatarstan hold picket against mass arrests following attack on muftis

30 July 2012
Banned Islamic group protests at arrests after attacks on Russia Muslim leaders Seven in Custody After Attack in Kazan Islamic action in Kazan held under Hizb ut-Tahrir banners for first time ever eyewitness

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Russia plans drills to determine actual "Wahhabization" of Tatarstan


Text of report by the website of heavyweight Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 19 July [Gleb Postnov report: "'Forest' Muslims Are Dictating the Religious Fashion in Tatarstan: Former North Caucasus Rebels Are Gaining Ever Increasing Influence in the Republic's Mosques"] President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov has already been presented with a football jersey with an original inscription Kazan - Whereas just a couple of years ago the image of the swarthy male with broad and thick beard and characteristic Caucasus accent was instilling fear in the majority of attendees of Kazan mosques, today Muslims from Chechnya and Dagestan are becoming religious teachers for many Tatar co-religionists. Primarily for the youth, which aspires in all things to emulate their latter-day authorities. The growing influence of Muslims from the Caucasus is linked with the fatwa (decree) proclaimed in 2011 by Doku Umarov on the fact that Caucasus Muslims should relocate to the Volga region to raise local Muslims to jihad. The outcome of the armed resistance, the rebel believes, will be the formation of the so-called vilayet (province) of Idel-Ural as part of the so-called Greater Caucasus Emirate. The territory of the Tatar province is to coincide here with the boundaries of the Golden Horde, which, of course, is flattering to many local nationalists, who have long dreamed of Tatarstan's speediest independence from Russia. The situation that has come about in the republic in the past 18 months shows that the fancies of the Chechen field commander are not as absurd as it might have seemed just a couple of years ago. Experts questioned by NG believe that in 10 of the more than 50 mosques of Kazan, including those in the city centre, the positions of natives of the Caucasus, among whom there are many people with a so-called forest past, are strong today. Yesterday's mujahidin are moving to Tatarstan and neighbouring Volga regions to spread among local Muslims the ideas of the religious and ideological schools current today in the Caucasus. And we are not talking about the Islam of the Shafi'i madhab or Sufi tarekat traditional for the Caucasus, what is more, but about Caucasus Salafism with its strong militarist component. It is no accident that the sermons of Abu Umar Sasitlinskiy, who is considered one of the most popular Salafi preachers of Dagestan, are being actively disseminated among the Tatar youth. Before the assumption of office in the Religious Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan (DUM) of new mufti Ildus Fayzov, the "forest"-brother Muslims found refuge without problems within the official madrassas - Islamic religious schools. In Almetyevsk, for example, Rafik Islamgaliyev, president of the Risal madrassa, says that among the lecturers there were people who had fought on the side of the rebels during the second Chechen campaign, and the clergy of the principal mosque maintained contact with the not-unknown Said Buryatskiy, who had been a member of Doku Umarov's detachment and who was eliminated in March 2010. Fayzov began a policy of the de-Wahhabization of the personnel of the Muslim clergy, but the positions of the religious radicals remain strong. The Tatarstani Muftiate is losing the ideological contest for the hearts and minds of the Tatar youth, among whom there has as of late appeared a "from-the-Caucasus" vogue. On the social networks Tatar nationalists are calling on the young people to emulate their peers from Chechnya and Dagestan in style of clothing and provocative style of behaviour in order to have an intimidating impact on those around them, primarily on their Russian fellow citizens. Boys in soccer jerseys with flashy inscriptions: "I am Tatar" or "100 per cent Tatar," are being photographed like North Caucasus militants with raised index fingers (symbol of monotheism). Some even ineptly attempted to dance on Kazan streets the Lezginka. The centre of the "Caucasusization" of Tatar Muslims here is by no means Kazan, it is cities of Tatar Zakamye, where the positions of religious extremists have traditionally been strong. Yesterday's mujahidin are attempting to get jobs in private security entities in order to always have access to weapons. The authorities of Tatarstan are trying to avoid attaching great significance to the problem of the radicalization and, in parallel with it, "Caucasusization" of the Muslim community. The low level of religious extremism in Tatarstan was noted at a recent conference of regional leaders of the ~5~

Volga Federal District with the participation of Mikhail Babich, the president's authorized representative. But now notices of anti-terrorist exercises prepared for the end of July are being pinned up in Kazan. It will obviously be possible to judge from the manoeuvres, their objectives and legend, how the problem of Wahhabization of the republic is perceived by the security officers - as a theoretical, or, for all that, practical, danger. Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 19 Jul 12

Attacks target voices of moderate Islam in central Russia


Attacks in Russia's Tatarstan republic today killed one Muslim cleric and seriously wounded a second, underscoring a rising threat to a moderate brand of Islam. Fred Weir Correspondent The Christian Science Monitor | July 19, 2012 Thursday A leading Muslim cleric was shot dead and another seriously injured by a car bomb in the mainly Muslim Volga republic of Tatarstan Thursday, in attacks that police and most experts believe were almost certainly carried out by radical Islamists. The violence threatens to shatter more than just the peace in the oil-rich central Russian region (see map), whose majority population constitutes one of the biggest single concentrations of Sunni Muslims in Europe. The two victims are leading proponents of the officially sponsored brand of Euro-Islam, which preaches tolerance, democracy and acceptance of modern secular life. The republic's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, who was hurled from his car by a powerful blast, had been leading efforts to expunge Saudi-trained clerics and extreme Salafist textbooks from local mosques and religious schools. Deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov, gunned down on the porch of his home, was an Islamic scholar who was widely regarded as the main strategist in the fight against religious extremism. When the Monitor interviewed Mr. Yakupov in his office in Kazan back in 2003, he appeared confident that Tatarstan -- where over a third of the population are ethnic Russian and Orthodox Christian -would be able to avoid the sectarian violence and religious intolerance that was destroying other communities in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. "Islam is facing major changes in the coming period, and this is very much needed," he said at the time. "Some parts of the Muslim world look like reservations for dictators and totalitarian ways. We hope for a different future." The official RIA-Novosti agency quoted a source in Tatarstan's security forces as saying they were treating the attacks as a single crime. "It's evident that these two crimes are directly linked and, most likely, they were performed by the same group," he is quoted as saying. "We are probing all versions, from professional activities to the involvement of so-called religious fanatics." Stability shifting to instability Experts say Tatarstan's stability has been slowly unraveling, below the radar screen, for some time. "What happens here seems minor against the background of the permanent war going on in the northern Caucasus," says Rais Suleymanov, head of the center of religious and ethno-religious studies at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies in Kazan. "The absence of due attention to the processes going on here means that the processes have not been properly followed or understood in recent times.... We see that Tatarstan is heading down the path leading to a situation like that in Dagestan. In the late 1990s, the same thing happened there, traditional religious leaders were being killed," he says.

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In the past decade, Moscow has crushed a separatist-cum-Islamist insurgency in Chechnya, restoring stability at the cost of handing over the tiny republic to almost total control of local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. However, Islamist militancy has metastasized around the mainly Muslim north Caucasus, making regions like Dagestan and Ingushetia look like permanent war zones. Chechen Islamist leader Doku Umarov, who styles himself "emir" of the north Caucasus "caliphate," is blamed for organizing at least two bloody terror attacks in Moscow, including twin suicide bombings in the city's crowded metro in 2010, and another deadly suicide bombing in Moscow's Domodedovo airport the next year. Militant call to focus on Tatarstan According to Russian experts, Mr. Umarov issued a religious decree last year calling on north Caucasus militants to focus on Tatarstan and other areas with concentrated Muslim populations such as Bashkortistan, to move there and begin destabilizing operations. "It is not by chance that these attacks happened today, on the eve of Ramadan," says Mr. Suleymanov. "Local Muslims are stunned, shocked, and terrified. People are even scared to come to a mosque.... The radicals want to demonstrate that they are already a force, and to intimidate moderate leaders. What they really want is to say to the state is: We conduct terrorist acts to show that we are strong, we can dictate, and you have to make concessions." Experts say that the oil-fueled prosperity that made Euro-Islam look attractive a decade ago has petered out, while militants from the north Caucasus can point to Chechnya as an alternative model where military confrontation with Moscow ultimately resulted in a local regime where sharia law effectively trumps the Russian Constitution. A decade ago Chechnya was in ruins following two futile wars to win independence from Russia. Today, Chechnya is undergoing a stunning rebirth, largely bankrolled by a Kremlin that's happy to pay for the appearance of peace and careful to keep its nose out of the republic's internal affairs. "For a long time, it looked like Tatarstan was the best model for a Muslim republic within Russia to develop its national statehood," says Nikolai Petrov, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "But now, Tatarstan's mild, multiconfessional model looks vulnerable. A new generation of Muslim clerics, trained in Saudi Arabia, regard the older generation as traitors. The benefits of the Tatar model are receding. Euro-Islam may have worked at a time of economic growth, when everyone was happy. But now with economic problems multiplying, radicalization is taking place.... This crisis has been simmering under the surface for a long time," he adds. For Moscow, Thursday's attacks hint at the spread of north Caucasus-type instability to Russia's own Volga heartland. "The basic problem in Tatarstan is the erosion of popular support and loss of trust to the official religion," says Alexei Vlasov, director of the center for the study of social and political processes in the post-Soviet space at Moscow State University. "We saw the very same kind of process unfold in the northern Caucasus in the 1990's, and we know what it led to. There are good reasons to fear that a similar process is going on now in Tatarstan," he adds.

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Senior Muslim clerics targeted in "series of attacks" in Russia's Tatarstan


A series of attacks on heads of the local Muslim community has been committed in Kazan, Russian Ekho Moskvy radio station reported on 19 July. Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, a predominantly Muslim republic on the river Volga, forming part of the Russian Federation. A car in which the mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Fayzov, was travelling was blown up. He was wounded, the radio station said. At about the same time deputy mufti of Tatarstan Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his home, the report continued. A criminal investigation into the incidents has been launched, Ekho Moskvy quoted the Investigations Committee as saying. Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0800 gmt 19 Jul 12

Russian Muslim leaders condemn attack on senior clerics in Tatarstan


Muslim leaders around Russia have condemned the 19 July attacks against senior members of the Muslim community of Tatarstan, Russian news agencies reported on the same day. The chairman of the Coordination Centre of Muslims of the North Caucasus, Ismail Berdiyev, called for just punishment for the culprits, RIA Novosti reported. He said: "The executors of this attack have to be given the appropriate punishment. Let them - the commissioners and those who dream of sowing discord in our Russia - clearly understand that there is no place for them among peaceful citizens. We will not let bandits reign supreme. We have the laws of our country, and we, the Muslims of Russia, will adhere to them unwaveringly." Berdiyev's sentiments were shared by the head of the administration of the Russian Mufti Council, Russian Abbyasov, who said that "the people who have killed and kill and attack peaceful persons do not have the right to consider themselves party to any religion. Particularly given that this inhumane act was executed ahead of the blessed month of fasting, Ramadan". In an earlier report, RIA Novosti quoted the first deputy chairman of the central spiritual directorate of the Muslims of Russia, Mufti Albir Krganov, as saying that people ought to remain composed in the face provocation. "I call on all devout people to remain calm. These monsters are trying to destroy our stability, our calm - we should not give in to their provocation. We all condemn this act and want to convey our condolences to the people of Kazan and the relatives of the slain Valiulla Yakupov," Krganov told RIA Novosti. Meanwhile, the head of the executive council of the All-Russian Mufti Council, Mukhammedgali Khuzin, told the Interfax news agency that the attacks were not a surprise, and that the Tatarstan authorities had been alerted to the possible threat to the safety of the republic's senior Muslim clerics some time ago. "Back in April 2012, we came forward with a statement declaring our concern over the strange position taken by the republican authorities at such a worrisome time for Tatarstan's Muslim community, when the Wahhabi lobby of the republic has not resigned itself to a defeat and was seeking revenge," he said. He criticized "extremely strong pressure" that the authorities of Tatarstan exerted on the Tatarstan Mufti Council, leading to its isolation from other Tatar Mufti councils in Russia. He called on the authorities to "put up barriers against Wahhabists and representatives of other

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radical movements, which are acting so brazenly also because there are dishonourable and cowardly persons in the ranks of officials, who can be intimidated and bribed". Summing up his position, he said: "We are asking - what else needs to happen for the authorities of Tatarstan to acknowledge that they committed a fatal mistake by giving into to the blatant blackmail of revenge-seekers and thus giving legitimacy to the previously underground position of the Wahhabi movement?" Source: RIA Novosti news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0901 and 1044 gmt 19 Jul 12; Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1014 gmt 19 Jul 12

Homicide attempt on mufti classified as terrorist act Markin


The Russian Investigative Committee has classified an attempt to assassinate Ildus Khazrat Faiz, the Mufti of Tatarstan, as a terrorist act, the Committee's spokesperson Vladimir Markin told ItarTass on Thursday. "Additional criminal proceedings have been launched under article 205 of the Russian Penal Code on terrorist charges," Markin went on to say. He added that a lawsuit on charges of attempted homicide had been filed earlier on Thursday. "Experienced criminologists and bomb-disposal experts have left Moscow for Kazan," Markin said. The homicide attempt on the mufti occurred at the intersection of Chetayev Street in Kazan at about 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was inside his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado car when the bomb struck. Ildus Khazrat Faiz was rushed to hospital with traumas and wounds. In the meantime, unidentified gunman fired several shots at the mufti's former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, 64, at approximately the same time on Thursday morning. The man died of wounds in his car. A criminal case on murder charges was opened into Yakupov's death. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he had no doubt that the assassins on the Mufti of Tatarstan would be found. "I've just talked to the Federal Security Service director. Law enforcers will do everything within their power to find, expose and punish the criminals. I have no doubt that this is going to happen," the president said at a meeting with the leaders of Russian State Duma factions. Putin admitted that the situation in the country was far from being ideal. "All of us who's interested in making this country stronger and developing the economy should carefully analyze the situation and think about the good of the people rather than corporate interests," the president stressed. Putin described the terror strike in Kazan as a 'serious 'signal'. "We are fully aware of that but this is insufficient. No pre-emptive steps had been made in this case," the Russian head of state emphasized. He urged the country's political parties to prevent "destructive forces from swinging the situation." Putin recalled that the closed session of the Russian State Duma had passed a number of bills brushing up the country's political system. "Everything that has been done is absolutely right. We need to implement the decisions passed fully and adequately," the president went on to say. "We shouldn't allow destructive forces to use the newly adopted decisions to swing the situation, especially in a terrorist manner," Putin said.

Putin pledged that mufti's assassins would be found


ITAR-TASS | July 19, 2012 Thursday ~9~

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he had no doubt that the assassins on the Mufti of Tatarstan would be found. "I've just talked to the Federal Security Service director. Law enforcers will do everything within their power to find, expose and punish the criminals. I have no doubt that this is going to happen," the president said at a meeting with the leaders of Russian State Duma factions. Putin admitted that the situation in the country was far from being ideal. "All of us who's interested in making this country stronger and developing the economy should carefully analyze the situation and think about the good of the people rather than corporate interests," the president stressed. Putin described the terror strike in Kazan as a 'serious 'signal'. "We are fully aware of that but this is insufficient. No pre-emptive steps had been made in this case," the Russian head of state emphasized. He urged the country's political parties to prevent "destructive forces from swinging the situation." Putin recalled that the closed session of the Russian State Duma had passed a number of bills brushing up the country's political system. "Everything that has been done is absolutely right. We need to implement the decisions passed fully and adequately," the president went on to say. "We shouldn't allow destructive forces to use the newly adopted decisions to swing the situation, especially in a terrorist manner," Putin said, referring to the recent assassination attempt on the Mufti of Tatarstan in Kazan.

Tatarstan police chief controls probe into attack on mufti


ITAR-TASS | July 19, 2012 Thursday Interior Minister of Tatarstan Artem Khokhorin has taken under personal control the measures to track down the suspects in the assassination attempt on mufti of the Republic Ildus Faizov and murder of his former deputy, chief of the education department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the republic Valiulla Yakupov, a spokesman for the ministry told Itar-Tass. "Operational headquarters are currently opened on the basis of the Tatarstan Interior Ministry that includes all the operational services of the republic, and a set of operational-search measures to identify and detain the suspected criminals is taken," he said. He noted that the operational headquarters also receives reports from people who have any information about these crimes. "We appeal to all the eyewitnesses and potential witnesses, as well as all citizens to immediately report to police by telephone all the information relating to these crimes," the press service stressed. At about 10:00 a.m. on Thursday at the entrance to a house in Zarya Kazani Street an unidentified person fired several times at former deputy mufti of Tatarstan Valiulla Yakupov, 64, who died of gunshot wounds in his car. After some time, a Toyota Land Cruiser car was exploded on Thursday morning in the yard of the house at 35, Chetayev Street in Kazan. Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov was inside the vehicle. The blast wave threw him out of the car. He was hospitalised with injuries of varying severity. He underwent a surgery in a city hospital.

Russian Muslim leader injured in car bomb and deputy shot dead
The government-backed spiritual leader of Russia's biggest Muslim region was injured in a car ~ 10 ~

bombing and his deputy shot dead on Thursday, in a sign that Islamist extremism may be spreading toward Moscow By Tom Parfitt Moscow Telegraph | July 19, 2012 Ildus Fayzov, mufti of Tatarstan, 49, was hurt as his Toyota Land Cruiser was blown up, a short while after his deputy Valiulla Yakupov, also 49, was gunned down outside his house. Both attacks took place in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, on the eve of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Mr Fayzov said he managed to jump out of his car after he felt an initial, weak explosion inside it as he stopped at traffic lights. Two bigger blasts then ripped through the vehicle, injuring his legs. Analysts said it was likely the two men had been targeted by Islamist fundamentalists who were opposed to their state-sponsored brand of "traditional Islam". Tatarstan, situated 500 miles east of Moscow, is often held up as an example of ethnic and religious harmony by the Kremlin. It has been peaceful in contrast to the bloody republics of Russia 's North Caucasus region where a conflict between state security forces and Islamist insurgents has guttered for more than a decade, claiming thousands of lives. The attacks in Kazan will raise fears of radical Islam seeping to a majority Muslim region in the Russian heartland rather than on its distant southern periphery. One Moscow newspaper reported on Thursday morning, before the attacks, that conservative Salafi believers from North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan were gradually taking control of mosques in Tatarstan. Some of them were former insurgents, it said. Mr Fayzov was installed as mufti of Tatarstan last year, reportedly after his predecessor had come under criticism for allowing conservative Islam to flourish. Mr Yakupov, the deputy who died, was well known as an opponent of Wahhabism, the name of a branch of Sunni Islam which is widely applied to fundamentalists.

Russian paper says murdered mufti warned of Wahhabi influence in Tatarstan


[Report by Dmitriy Yevstifeyev: "Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan Murdered in Kazan Had Been Fighting Wahhabis. Shortly Before His Death, Valiulla Yakupov Told Izvestiya That He Was Concerned by the Growing Radicalization of Tatarstani Muslims"] On Thursday Tatarstan was shaken by a sensational terrorist act: The motor car of the republic's mufti, Ildus Fayzov, was blown up and Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead by persons as yet unknown. Detectives believe that Islamic radicals may be behind the terrorist act. Not long before his death, Yakupov had told Izvestiya that the situation in Tatarstan had begun to develop according to the North Caucasus scenario - there has been a growth in the influence of Wahhabis, who are putting active pressure on the local clergy. The terrorists' first target was Valiulla Yakupov, Tatarstan's deputy mufti for education questions. The murderer lay in wait for the man in the porch of his home at 28 Ulitsa Zarya and opened fire when he came down to his car with his driver. Yakupov received several gunshot wounds and managed to reach his car, but died on the way to hospital. A little later, at around 1015 hours, a Toyota Land Cruiser at the wheel of which was Tatarstani Mufti Ildus Fayzov was blown up at the intersection of Ulitsa Chetayeva and Ulitsa Musina. The ~ 11 ~

spiritual leader of the republic's Muslims was returning from a live show on the radio and the bomb went off when the car was going along the street. The mufti survived, but was seriously wounded. Medics are currently fighting for his life. Security measures in Kazan have been intensified, and the police soon afterward blockaded two suspects in one of the city's districts. At the present moment in time a special-purpose unit is conducting an operation aimed at arresting the suspected assassins. Colleagues of the deceased in the Tatarstani Muslim Spiritual Administration were shocked by the terrorist act, which took place on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Russian Investigation Committee has so far delivered a cautious statement to the effect that the attack could have been connected with the professional activity of the deceased, but in the republic no one doubts this version at all. Ildus Fayzov was elected mufti of Tatarstan in April 2011 after the departure of Gusman Iskhakov. According to the unofficial version, Fayzov's predecessor implemented an insufficiently tough policy with regard to the republic's radical Islamists. The new mufti, by contrast, had a tough and principled position on this question. Fayzov's murdered deputy Valiulla Yakupov took just as intolerant a line with regard to extremists. He made his mark as a confirmed ideologue of anti-Wahhabism who was responsible for countering extremism in the Muslim Spiritual Administration of Tatarstan. Shortly before his death, Valiulla Yakupov admitted in an interview with Izvestiya that he was concerned by the growing influence of followers of radical tendencies in Islam on the republic's Muslims. According to his information, extremist ideas were being imported from abroad. "Dozens of people are going abroad and later returning to the republic and acting as agents of influence: They effectively recruit new people and send them abroad," Yakupov told Izvestiya in the spring. "Some people even hoist the crescent over private homes and organize a private mosque there, passing themselves off as muftis." Valiulla Yakupov explained at that time that such people become ideologues of Wahhabism, which justifies the personal jihad, that is, war against nonbelievers, and grants its adherents indulgence for their crimes. The republic's experts believe that the dual attack on the leadership of the republic's Muslim Spiritual Administration is an attempt to decapitate followers of traditional Islam and destabilize the situation in Tatarstan on the model of the North Caucasus. "What we predicted a long time ago has begun," Farid Salman, chairman of the Russian Association of Islamic Concord Council of Ulemas, admitted to Izvestiya. "Right now the authorities should wake up and understand that these are not fabrications of ours, but reality: Soon the shooting of the remaining clergy who support traditional Islam will begin." Not long before the terrorist act Perm Kray Mufti Mukhammedgali Khuzin had already sent a report to Mikhail Babich, the Russian president's plenipotentiary representative in Volga Federal District, in which he warned of a possible attempt to assassinate the leaders of Tatarstan's Muslims. Babich's reception centre found it difficult to explain to Izvestiya whether any reactive measures were adopted after this. The plenipotentiary representative himself has already flown to Kazan to chair an extraordinary closed meeting with the Tatarstani siloviki. "The issue of investigating the terrorist act and the measures that need to be adopted in the resulting situation will be discussed," the plenipotentiary representative's spokesman Aleksandr Dementyev told Izvestiya. In the opinion of experts, there are no fewer than 3,000 radicals in Tatarstan as today. "At the same time, 10 per cent of them are ready to take up arms and conduct a jihad, while the rest are prepared to sponsor and help them in every way," Rais Suleymanov, leader of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research Volga Centre for Regional and Ethno-Religious Studies, believes.

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"Given the rate at which Wahhabism is spreading today, within 10 years Tatarstan could turn into a region with a climate reminiscent of the North Caucasus." In the expert's words, a graphic example of this is the so-called Nurlat syndrome - the incident of 25 November 2010 when the republic's siloviki rained down fire in the forests of Tatarstan's Nurlatskiy Rayon on a gang of gunmen who had tried to blow up the car of one of the local chiefs of the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] Counter-Extremism Centre. At that time three suspects who had taken refuge in a dugout with submachine guns were eliminated by 500 siloviki with aviation support. One of the extremists - Ruslan Spiridonov turned out to be the son of the former prosecutor of Chistopole. The Nurlat events became one of the factors causing the retirement of Gusman-khazrat Iskhakov, the former head of the Muslim Spiritual Administration of Tatarstan. Source: Izvestiya website, Moscow, in Russian 19 Jul 12

Car bomb targets Muslim leader in Russian republic


The mufti of Tatarstan was the target of an assassination attempt in Kazan on 19 July, the Russian Ministry of Defence TV station Zvezda reported. A bomb had been planted in their vehicle under the passenger seat apparently in the hope that Mufti Ildus Fayzov would sit there, a correspondent said. But in the event Fayzov opted to drive, and survived. Witnesses spoke of hearing three powerful explosions, the correspondent added to video said to have been taken within minutes of the blasts. Shortly before this attack, the deputy mufti was shot outside his home and died soon afterwards of his injuries, the report said. A major security operation was immediately launched in Kazan. Video from 1801 to 1806 gmt and captioned as filmed on a mobile telephone shows blazing vehicle seen from various angles, firefighters, further blasts in vehicle, eyewitnesses speaking, hospital, officials in conference, street scenes, bullet cases, burnt-out vehicle, security personnel; Ildus Fayzov, mufti of Republic of Tatarstan; Rustam Minnikhanov, president of Republic of Tatarstan; Eduard Abdullin, senior aide to head of Investigations Directorate for Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Investigation Committee; Rafail Gilmanov, deputy minister of interior, Republic of Tatarstan (all captioned) Source: Zvezda TV, Moscow, in Russian 1800 gmt 19 Jul 12

Attack on mufti in Russia's Tatarstan seen as "attack on traditional Islam"


Text of report by Russian political commentary website Politkom.ru on 19 July [Article by Ivan Preobrazhenskiy, under the rubric "The Main Thing": "A Terrorist Act Against Traditional Islam"] In Kazan the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Fayzov was wounded, while Valiulla Yakupov, the chief of the educational department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the region, was killed. The law enforcement organs have started criminal proceedings but officially no theories have been expressed. In the blogosphere and in the expert community, however, this assassination and assassination attempt have already been precisely linked with the stepped-up activity in Tatarstan and in the Volga Region overall by comrades of the North Caucasus Salifis. Actually it is an armed attack on traditional Islam by radicals who are trying to provoke an interethnic and inter-religious ~ 13 ~

conflict. And the authorities at this point have no response except the traditional threats. What is more, some bloggers are even indicating outright that Tatarstan's authorities were deliberately turning a blind eye to the penetration of radicals into the republic and were all but supporting the North Caucasus Salafis. In fact on the day of the murder of Valiulla Yakupov and the attempt on the life of Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Fayzov, an article came out in Nezavisimaya Gazeta with a detailed description of the situation in Tatarstan's Islamic community. Among other things, it was pointed out there that almost one out of five mosques in Kazan is under the serious influence of the Salifis. The radicals were "driven out" of the madrassas, that is to say, Islamic educational institutions, only after Fayzov became head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (DUM) of Tatarstan. At the same time, among the Tatar youth, a major rise is all the same evident in sympathies for the North Caucasus brothers in the faith, or rather for the Salafis there and the aggressive pseudo-Islamic culture being imposed by these young people. At the same time, as Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes, a low level of religious extremism in Tatarstan was mentioned at the conference of regional heads of the Volga Federal District that was held recently with the participation of the Russian President's Plenipotentiary Representative Mikhail Babich. The investigation team for now is only saying that professional activity is only one of the theories of the reasons for this double assassination attempt. It is obvious that there is no other possibility. It is clearly the result of the policy of the authorities of Tatarstan and the federal government, which was pretending that the situation in the Volga region does not present any danger. As a result a person died. And not simply a person but in fact a teacher and administrator who was in practice carrying on ideological opposition to Islamic radicals in Tatarstan. How can the regime respond to this action of the radicals? After all, the objective is obvious - it is to frighten opponents. The very same tactics that the Salafis in the North Caucasus adhere to, eliminating religious teachers who are not loyal to them, regardless of their spheres of activity and faith. They may be strict supporters of the secular model of the state from among schoolteachers, Muslim clergy, Christian clergy, officials, or activists of nongovernmental public organizations. And in the North Caucasus, the Russian regime as yet is unable to respond in any way to this selective terror by the radicals. Purges and "liquidation" of fighters, unfortunately, is not a response in the ideological confrontation. It is already too late to rely on the Russians in Tatarstan, as happened in the North Caucasus at one time. To a significant degree, they are removed from the main decision-making levers on the republic level. Relying on the national (and somewhat nationalistic) secular elite, who in the population's opinion are extremely corrupt, means following the path of the North Caucasus. There one can be graphically convinced what collusion of the federal authorities, who entered into an alliance with local, profoundly corrupt nationalists for the sake of fighting Islamic extremism, can le ad to. Consequently, one must seek some different response. Of course, purges of Islamic institutions must take place. And, by the way, they must not be carried out by the law enforcement organs, who would now probably go where they certainly should not. This purge should be entrusted to Ildus Fayzov himself, who, thank God, will get out of the hospital alive and well very soon, despite the attempts of the Salafis to kill him, and he must given full carte blanche. And then too, the federal authorities should consider what is amiss with the situation that has arisen in Tatarstan overall. Why is the ideological project of a "secular state" that was just barely created in Russia in recent decades proving to be so unattractive to youth? And most importantly - what should the ideological project look like, one that would be attractive to society and would permit it to rally to fight religious radicals who are trying to turn Russia into one large jamaat? Is the problem perhaps primarily that the federal regime and behind it the regional officials themselves are not playing by the rules that in the form of laws were established for the other inhabitants of the country? As a result, the secular model of the state is associated among youth with corruption and mistakes, while the radicals know how to present their model as a model of justice. If that is the case, the local and federal authorities should begin the fight against the Salafis in Tatarstan themselves. Source: Politkom.ru website, Moscow, in Russian 19 Jul 12 ~ 14 ~

Conflicting theories surround attacks on Russian Muslim clerics


The Russian Federation Council believes the attacks on Muslim clerics in Tatarstan were committed by the Wahhabi underground, which is trying to spread its subversive activities beyond the North Caucasus, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 19 July. The mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Fayzov, was seriously wounded earlier on the same day when his car was blown up. At about the same time deputy mufti of Tatarstan Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his home. Wahhabi theory "This is an arrogant and defiant challenge by the Wahhabi underground, which is located in the North Caucasus, to the Russian Muslim community. This is an attempt, if I may say so, to 'Caucasize' such regions as Tatarstan," first deputy speaker of the Federation Council and a member of the National Antiterrorist Committee Aleksandr Torshin told Interfax. According to Torshin, the challenge must not be underestimated. "As far as we know, in 2011 the infamous Doku Umarov issued a fatwa that the Caucasian Mujahideen should settle in the Volga region," he said. According to Torshin, this statement was not given sufficient attention. "This double terrorist attack is evidence that Umarov's statements are not innocuous but are in fact guides to action. Judging by information from my sources, I can say that in Tatarstan the Muslim clergy who are natives from the Caucasus are getting more influential and there are more and more of them," Torshin said. "Not so long ago, bearded types from the Caucasus were regarded in Kazan as something exotic, but now these characters can be found at every turn," the first deputy speaker said. According Torshin, when mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Fayzov took office, propagators of the "Caucasus" Islam run into serious problems in the republic. "Fayzov fought in earnest against such infiltrations, and paid for it," Torshin said. He is convinced that, after the tragedy, serious attention should be paid to the spread of religious extremism throughout the Volga region. "I want to draw your attention to the fact that Doku Umarov was speaking about the entire Volga region, not just Tatarstan. And we should pay attention to all republics in the Volga republic, where the Muslim community has always been moderate and not aggressive," Torshin said. He also drew attention to the fact that double terrorist attacks usually happen in North Caucasus republics, and until now never happened in the republics of the Volga region and, in particular, Tatarstan. "This is something new and challenging for Tatarstan and for the Muslim republics of the Volga region in general. This is not only the elimination of those who oppose the radicalization of Islam, but this is also a serious signal to those who are dealing with this," Torshin said. This signal shows how they will remove people who put obstacles on the way of radical extremism, he said. "I think we need to take very serious actions. Complacency would be just criminal, if we miss this moment," Torshin said. He said the Federation Council speaker's advisory council on international relations and cooperation with religious associations would be collecting documents on religious extremism.

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The National Antiterrorist Committee also believes that the Muslim clerics were attacked for their activities, namely "opposition to the spread of religious radicalism" in Tatarstan, RIA Novosti reported. Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov has condemned the attack on the Muslim clerics in Tatarstan, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 19 July. "Both Muslim leaders were known as staunch opponents of religious extremism and its vanguard, Wahhabism," Kadyrov said in a statement, published on the website of the Chechen Republic's head and government. "The tragedy clearly shows that there is nothing sacred for the Wahhabis. They have no true faith, they have no pity for people. They want blood! Their mission is to kill people, kill Muslims, kill women, children and defenceless citizens," Kadyrov said. Commercial theory A different theory was put forward by head of the Duma Committee for Public Associations and Religious Organizations Yaroslav Nilov (LDPR), who believes that the attacks on the Muslim clerics could have been provoked by Tatarstan pilgrims' resentment over the new rules of allocating permits for Hajj. "All theories should be considered, but it is possible that the incidents are linked to protest feelings and re-division of the market of Hajj services," Nilov told Interfax. "If we look at a statement of the Tatarstan Muslim community made ??a few days ago, they were unhappy about the mufti's position. When he took control of the sale of tours to Mecca and Medina, his work should have led to lower prices for tours. However, this did not happen," he added. Conspiracy theory Chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia Geydar Dzhemal dismissed the commercial theory of the crime as ridiculous. According to Dzhemal, the attacks could have been masterminded by Tatarstan's law-enforcement agencies, disgruntled after a recent high-profile scandal over tortures used by policemen and a consequent personnel shake-up. Speaking on satellite and internet broadcaster Dozhd TV on 19 July, Dzhemal said that some people in Tatarstan's law-enforcement agencies are thus trying to blackmail the federal centre, as if saying: Tatarstan was a quiet place, but you came and turned everything upside down and look what happened. Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1022, 1149, 1010 gmt 19 Jul 12; Dozhd TV, Moscow, in Russian 1738 gmt 19 Jul 12; RIA Novosti news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1029 gmt 19 Jul 12

Interception plan activated in Tatarstan after attempt on mufti


ITAR-TASS | July 19, 2012 Thursday The police of Tatarstan activated an interception plan after the Thursday morning assassination attempt on the republic's mufti and an attack on another high-ranking religious leader, an official of the press service of the republic's Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass. "At present all the facilities and personnel of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims are under reinforced police protection. The special police interception plan has been activated in Kazan for tracking down the criminals," the ministry source said. Operational services have been working at the site of the murder of the head of the education department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan and at the site of assassination attempt on the mufti of Tatarstan to ascertain all the circumstances of the crime. All the important facilities and employees of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan are currently under special control and police protection. ~ 16 ~

Both attacks, according to experts of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims, were staged by forces linked with the Wahhabi movement.

Russian experts link attacks on Tatarstan mufti to crackdown on Islamic radicals


Excerpt from report by Russian Gazeta.ru news website, often critical of the government, on 19 July [Report by Vladimir Gordeyev and Inna Serova under the "Crime" rubric: "'The Radicals Did Not Like His Reforms.' Attempts Made on the Lives of Muslim Leaders in Tatarstan"] In Tatarstan an attempt has been made on the lives of the republic's mufti, Ildus Faizov, and his deputy, Valiulla Yakupov [passage omitted contains already reported details of these attacks]. In the words of Damir-Khazrat Mukhetdinov, deputy chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of European Russia, within the past six months Ildus Faizov had launched "a broad frontline in the battle against extremism." "A number of reforms have been energetically carried out in the education system of Tatarstan's spiritual administration. And naturally, the radicals did not like this," Mukhetdinov told Gazeta.Ru. To his recollection, this is the first assassination attempt "committed with such cynicism, on the eve of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan." Earlier, Mukhetdinov explains, the radicals attacked the republic's economic and infrastructural facilities exclusively, attempting to make life difficult for the local authorities, but left the spiritual leaders in peace. "The mufti was a successful leader: The halal industry has developed in the republic, there was freedom, girls were allowed not to wear headscarves... But some people do not agree with this," the deputy chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of European Russia says. He suggests that "radical forces from abroad" who have their associates in Russia could be involved in the assassination attempt. Damir Gizatullin, another deputy chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of European Russia, believes that the assassination attempts should be assessed as a terrorist act aimed at undermining the traditional Sunni Islam espoused by Faizov and his team. "But they will not manage to destabilize the situation, because the majority of Muslims in Russia are Sunnis, they are adherents of moderate Islam," Interfax quotes Gizatullin as stressing. Aleksey Malashenko, member of the Moscow Carnegie Centre Research Council, believes that the attempts on the lives of Faizov and Yakupov are the result of acute contradictions between radical Salafis, who advocate the introduction of sharia courts, and adherents of Islam in its more liberal form. "It cannot be said that the mufti was keeping the situation in Tatarstan under control: Many people in the community itself did not get on with him. Simultaneously with this, the Salafi wave was growing: Very many cells of radicals have appeared in the republic, many of them connected with the international organization Hizb ut-Tahrir," Malashenko explained to Gazeta.Ru. The murdered Valiulla Yakupov, in the expert's words, was a victim of his consistent position with regard to radicals: He was regarded as an adherent of traditional Islam, "as a traditionalist in the good sense of the word." It is very difficult to fight Salafis, Malashenko stresses. "They operate all over the world and even participate in elections - for example, in Egypt." Source: Gazeta.ru website, Moscow, in Russian 19 Jul 12

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Muslim leaders targeted in twin attacks in Russia's Tartarstan


TV-Novosti

Published: 19 July, 2012, 15:28 A top Muslim leader has been injured when his car exploded shortly after his deputy was shot dead in a spate of attacks in Russias Republic of Tatarstan.

Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakupov was assassinated at the door of his home on Thursday morning, as his driver was waiting for him in his car nearby. Police say Yakupov was shot six times, but still managed to get to his vehicle. He died on the way to hospital. About 30 minutes later in a different part of town Tatarstans head Mufti Ildus Faizov was badly injured when his car exploded. Police are talking about three devices which were apparently attached to the car exploding. The blasts were so strong; Faizov was thrown out of the car, which may have actually saved his life. The vehicle itself was completely destroyed by fire.

According to Rishat Khamidullin the head of the republics Muslim secretariat , Ildus Faizov is alive and is at the Central Clinical Hospital. Doctors say his condition is moderately serious.

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The police and security services are on high alert while the hunt for the attackers is underway. Reports in the media suggest police may have already cornered two suspects in a car under a bridge in the center of the Tatarstan capital Kazan. However, they could be armed and have more explosives, so the authorities have been reportedly ordered police not to get too close. Investigators are looking at several theories why the two Muslim leaders were attacked. Both men are known to be fierce opponents of radical Islam and sought to ban Wahhabism all over Russia. They could have been attacked by religious extremists. Moreover, the Mufti of the Perm region in central Russia Mukhammedgali Khuzin claims he warned the regions head that the Mufti of Tatarstan could be attacked back in April. He told a conference that Wahhabite sentiments were strengthening in Tatarstan, with the influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's North Caucasus. A radical Islamist leader in 2008 was sentenced to life in prison for organizing a group that planned terrorist attacks in Tatarstan. Another theory is the attacks could be linked to the fact Ildus Faizov controls the sale of pilgrim tours to Mecca and Medina. Despite earlier promises, he failed to lower prices, causing criticism from many believers, who even accused him of cornering the market. More than a half of Tatarstan's population of 4 million is Sunni Muslim. The Volga River region is an important center of Muslim learning and culture.

Valiulla Yakupov

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Ildus Faizov

Russia shocked by twin attacks on Islamic clerics


By Roman Kruchinin (AFP)Jul 19, 2012 KAZAN, Russia The Islamic leader of Russia's main Muslim region of Tatarstan was wounded Thursday and another cleric killed in rare attacks in an oil-rich republic often praised for its religious tolerance. The Mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was wounded in a car explosion while his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead in the strikes an hour apart as Muslims prepared to begin observing Ramadan at sundown. Investigators opened a murder case while the region's leader linked the attacks in Tatarstain's main city of Kazan to the clerics' work to promote moderate Islam. "Our leaders have followed the policy of traditional Islam. It is clear that there are other movements, and what happened today is a clear challenge," said the president of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, pledging a firm response to radicals. "Our position should be tougher," he said in comments released by his office. Russia's top Muslim cleric Ravil Gainutdin said that those behind the attacks were seeking to place a bomb under the foundation of "peace and order of the entire Russian Federation." "I have to admit that a wave of violence has come to the Volga region too," he said. The oil-producing region on the Volga River is touted by authorities as an example of peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians, in contrast to the troubled North Caucasus, where the Kremlin fought two wars against separatists in the past 20 years.

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But over the past few years officials have sounded the alarm about radical Islam spreading to a region where secessionist sentiments ran high following the Soviet breakup. Yakupov, 48, was shot on the porch of his apartment block and died from his wounds in his car. Faizov was wounded when his vehicle exploded in another part of the city, the Investigative Committee said. "The Toyota Land Cruiser with the Mufti of Tatarstan inside, Ildus Faizov, was blown up," it said. "He was thrown out of the car by the force of the blast. He has been hospitalised with wounds of varying severity." Television showed flames and smoke bursting out of Faizov's black vehicle, which regional police said he was driving. Faizov, 49, has mounted a crackdown on extremists among the Muslim clergy of the republic of four million inhabitants. He has said the main threat comes from followers of radical forms of Islam, Salafism and Wahhabism, whose ideology is now preached in some of the mosques in Tatarstan. "The Salafis and Wahhabis constitute a very great danger. There are no moderates among them. They all finish one day by taking up arms," Faizov said in an interview with AFP last year shortly after his election. Yakupov headed the education department of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan at the time of his death, but until recently was Faizov's first deputy. In May, the Kazan Week website listed him as Tatarstan's second most influential Muslim, calling him the "strategist behind Faizov's policy of rooting out religious extremism." Russia fears that the radical Islam of the North Caucasus whose rebels are calling for the creation of an Islamic state could spread to its other historically Muslim regions. Militant leader Doku Umarov last year warned that his fighters were on a mission to "free the lands of our brothers," referring to Russian regions with large Muslim populations. In November 2010, three Islamists were killed in Tatarstan in a rare armed clash with police. Around half of Tatarstan's population is Muslim, but in Kazan few women wear headscarves and a huge mosque stands beside an Orthodox cathedral. "The Salafis, the Islamic radicals have been active in Tatarstan for the past two years," said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Centre. "This violent flare-up was expected."

Tatarstan Attacks Spark Fears That Islamist Threat Is Spreading


by Daisy Sindelar

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty July 19, 2012 In some parts of Russia, brazen daytime assassination attempts on religious leaders might not seem so unusual. In the past four months alone, for example, two Muslim clerics and a prominent Islamic scholar have been killed in the restive North Caucasus republic of Daghestan. But no such violence had ever been witnessed in Muslim-majority Tatarstan, a relatively peaceful, prosperous republic with a reputation for cultural diversity and religious tolerance. That all changed on the morning of July 19 with twin attacks on the republic's two leading Muslim clerics. Mufti Ildus Faizov was hospitalized with moderate injuries after his car was rocked by three powerful bomb blasts on a broad, sun-lined street in the capital, Kazan. An hour earlier, Faizov's powerful former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, had been shot dead outside his home in a different neighborhood of the city. No one has claimed responsibility for the dual assaults, the first terrorist-style attacks in the republic, which come a day before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But the clerics' pro-Kremlin, anti-Wahhabi stance has stirred speculation that they may have been targeted by hard-line Islamists looking to break Moscow's grip on Russia's second-largest religion. Islamist Insurgency Spreading? Rais Suleimanov, an ethnic and religious affairs expert who heads a pro-Moscow think tank in Kazan, has suggested that the attack could signal that the Islamist insurgency in Russia's restive south could be spreading north -- with potentially disastrous consequences. "We see a North Caucasus scenario unfolding in Tatarstan now, and it's spreading across the Volga region," he said. "Traditional Muslim leaders who were speaking up against so-called 'pure Islam' pushed by the Wahabbis were also getting killed 10 years ago in Daghestan. "Tatarstan's politics are based on [projecting a good image of Tatarstan], while the secular authorities are weak. It's even possible that a Beslan-style tragedy may happen [here]. I mean, a hostage-taking or similar action." It's an assessment that may send a chill through federal authorities who over the last decade have roundly failed to quell what they see as a growing Islamist threat in the troubled North Caucasus. In a statement, Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee said it was exploring a number of motives behind the attacks, including the work of the Tatarstan Mufti's Office "to counter the spread of radical religious ideas across the republic's territory." Special attention has focused on the 49-year-old Yakupov, a veteran member of Tatarstan's Muftiyat, or Spiritual Board. Openly Opposed To Extremism Yakupov, who spent two decades as deputy mufti before moving to head the Muftiyat's religious ~ 22 ~

education department, had long been seen as a powerful figure with close ties to federal authorities and a willingness to act as an agent of restraint in Tatarstan's Muslim affairs. He had consistently sought to limit the number of Tatars studying in foreign madrasahs, suggesting a homegrown religious education could better create moderate Muslims prepared to peacefully coexist with Russia's Orthodox majority. Speaking at a roundtable discussion sponsored by RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service the day before his death, Yakupov criticized what he called the "miserable psychology" of internationalism and altruism and called on Tatars to "fight for ourselves." Irek Murtazin, a Kazan-based journalist and the former press secretary to the republic's expresident, Mintimer Shaimiyev, maintains that Yakupov's open opposition to Wahhabism and Salafism may have prompted the attack. "I knew [Yakupov] as a fighter against the Wahabbization of Islam in Tatarstan," he said. "It is possible that this was the Wahabbis' revenge against the Muslim Spiritual Directorate, which has been preventing Wahhabism from spreading across Tatarstan's mosques." Despite serving in a lesser post, Yakupov was seen as more powerful than Faizov, whose first career was as an actor and who was only appointed to the post in January 2011. But Faizov, 49, is seen as equally accommodating when it comes to Kremlin concerns about centralizing control over Muslim authorities. He quickly moved to consolidate Tatarstan's Muslim communities by creating regional councils and screening the selection of local imams. This ran counter to the work of Faizov's predecessor, Gusman Iskhakov, who was seen as presiding over a largely unregulated and liberal network of Muslim institutions. Tatarstan, which enjoys substantial oil wealth, is home to a number of lavish mosques, including the Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan. This year, it also became the latest point on the globe to claim ownership of the world's largest printed Koran, an 800-kilogram tome decorated in gold, malachite, and jasper. But while many Tatars identify with their Muslim heritage and enjoy the celebrity of their mosques and Korans, few are seen as religiously devout. And there are disagreements about how far Wahhabism has, or could, spread in Tatarstan. In November 2010, three alleged Wahhabists were shot dead by police after reportedly seeking to assassinate local officials. Moscow May Tighten Controls But few such incidents have been reported in Tatarstan, and the threat of Wahhabism has not been used as a pretext for police roundups of local youths, as it has been in the North Caucasus. The dual attacks on July 19, therefore, are seen as a deeply unwelcome surprise for both local and federal officials. This is particularly true as the country looks ahead to two major international sporting events that will present massive security concerns. Kazan will host the Universiade, the Student Sports Olympics, in 2013; Russia follows with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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The high-profile assassination plots have raised concerns among some observers that Moscow may use the attacks as an opportunity to tighten security controls on a region that has long enjoyed a degree of freedom from federal scrutiny. On July 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled a readiness to intervene when he made critical remarks about how "no preventive measures" had been taken to prevent the Tatarstan plots and said the attacks sent a "serious signal" to authorities. Pavel Salin, a political analyst at the Center for Political Assessments in Moscow, agrees that the Kazan attacks are doubtless a "serious worry" for the Kremlin. But he downplayed suggestions that Tatarstan, as a largely peaceful and compliant Russian republic, would be the target of a full-scale Kremlin crackdown -- even at a time when Putin is moving briskly to consolidate his own political authority. "Responsibilities are being transferred from the center to the regions," he said. "The center is not taking on all the volume of responsibilities that it took on in the 2000s. Also, if we look at Tatarstan specifically, this republic has not posed problems for the federal center in the last 10 years, as opposed to, say, Bashkortostan." Correspondents Tom Balmforth and Natalya Dzhanpoladova contributed to this report from Moscow; Alsu Kurmasheva contributed from Prague

Attacks Target Tatarstan Muslim Leader


OnIslam & News Agencies Thursday, 19 July 2012 00:00 MOSCOW The mufti of Russias largely-Muslim region of Tatarstan was injured Thursday, July 19, and his deputy was killed in a rare attack on Muslim leaders in the oil-rich republic. Terrorism cannot be justified by anything, Damir Gizatullin, the first deputy chairman of the Spiritual Council of Muslims of European Russia, told Interfax news agency. It is especially sad that this barbaric attack took place ahead of the holy month of Ramadan. Ildis Faizov, the Mufti of Tatarstan, was injured after a powerful explosion rocked his vehicle in the capital Kazan. The Toyota Land Cruiser with the Mufti of Tatarstan inside, Ildus Faizov, was blown up, the federal Investigative Committee said. He was thrown out of the car by the force of the blast. He has been hospitalized with wounds of varying severity. Reuters television footage showed the vehicle engulfed in flames and billowing smoke on a wide, green-lined avenue in central Kazan.

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Around the same time, deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead outside his home, the federal Investigative Committee said. A criminal case has been opened into murder, the committee said in a statement. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks. Those fighting to carve an Islamic state out of a strip of mainly Muslim regions of the Caucasus along Russia's southern flank sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders, who are backed by the authorities. They have issued appeals to Muslims in other regions of the predominantly Orthodox Christian country, where Muslims are a minority of about 15 percent, to join their fight. Rebel leader Doku Umarov last year warned that his fighters were on a mission to free the lands of our brothers referring to Russian regions with large Muslim populations including Tatarstan on the Volga River. In November 2010, three Islamists were killed in Tatarstan in an armed clash with police that was unprecedented in the region. Radicalism Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAK) said it suspected the attacks were related to what it called the mufti's work "countering the spread of religious radicalism" in the region. Faizov, 49, has mounted a crackdown on extremists among the Muslim clergy of the republic of four million inhabitants. He has said the main threat comes from Salafists and Wahhabis, according to Agence FrancePresse (AFP). Yakupov headed the education department of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Tatarstan at the time of his death, but until recently was Faizov's first deputy. In May, the Kazan Week website listed Yakupov as Tatarstan's second most influential Muslim, calling him the strategist behind Faizov's policy of rooting out religious extremism. Around half of Tatarstan's population is Muslim, according to the region's website. Tatarstan is situated in the center of the Russian Federation on the East-European Plain at the confluence of the two greatest rivers -- the Volga and the Kama. Since the early days of Islam, individual Muslims and delegations visited the region of VolgaBulgaria, today's Tatarstan. By the year 922, Islam had spread in the region and had been adopted as an official religion. At the beginning of the 13th century, Volga-Bulgaria was captured by the Mongols and forcibly included into the Golden Horde.

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By the beginning of the 15th century, the Golden Horde, which by then was a Muslim state, had broken down into several states, the strongest of which was Kazan Khanate. In 1552, Kazan fell to the invading troops of Ivan the Terrible and Islam was persecuted until the end of the 18th century.

Top Muslim cleric Yakupov gunned down in Russia


Associated Press Published July 19, 2012 MOSCOW A top Muslim cleric in Russia's Tatarstan province was shot dead and another was wounded by a car bomb in two attacks that local leaders said were related to the priests' criticism of radical Islamists, investigators said Thursday. Valiulla Yakupov, the deputy to the Muslim province's chief mufti, was gunned down Thursday as he left his house in Tatarstan's regional capital of Kazan, Russia's Investigative Committee said. Minutes later, chief mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded in the leg after an explosive device ripped through his car in central Kazan, it said. Both clerics were known as critics of radical Islamist groups that advocate a strict and puritan version of Islam known as Salafism. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Russian news agencies that his agency was looking into the clerics' professional activity as a possible reason for the attacks. The 49-year-old Faizov became Tatarstan's chief mufti in 2011 and began a crackdown on radical Islamists by dismissing ultraconservative preachers and banning textbooks from Saudi Arabia, where the government-approved religious doctrine is based on Salafism. He has also been criticized by media in Tatarstan for allegedly profiting on tours he organized for Muslim pilgrims and for trying to gain control of one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kazan that receives hefty donations from thousands of believers. The rise of Salafism in this oil-rich Volga River province has been fueled by the influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's Caucasus region, where Islamic insurgency has been raging for years. In 2011, Doku Umarov, leader of embattled Chechen separatists, issued a religious decree calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the densely-populated Volga River region that includes Tatarstan and other provinces with a significant Muslim population. Former separatists and Islamic radicals from the Caucasus have called for the establishment of a caliphate, an independent Islamic state under Shariah law that includes the Caucasus, Tatarstan and other parts of Russia that were once part of the Golden Horde -- a medieval Muslim state ruled by a Tatar-Mongol dynasty. Thousands of their supporters in Tatarstan, including members of Islamist youth groups, wear clothes and beards associated with Salafism. More than a half of Tatarstan's 4 million people are Sunni Muslims. Tatars converted to Islam more than a thousand years ago, and the province became an important center of Muslim learning and culture under Tatar-Mongol rulers who controlled Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. Tatarstan's regional leader condemned the attack and called for tougher measures against radical Islamists. "What happened today is an obvious challenge," Rustam Minnikhanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. "Our position must be much tougher. Traditional Islam has never allowed such things" as the attacks.

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A Muslim leader from a neighboring region blamed local authorities for failing to thwart the assassination on Faizov by Islamic radicals. Muhammedgali Khuzin, mufti of the Perm region, told the Interfax news agency that he submitted a report in April to regional authorities about dangers related to the emergence of radical Islamist groups. "No due security measures have been taken," Khuzin was quoted as saying. In 2008, a court in Kazan sentenced a radical Islamist leader to life in prison for organizing a group that planned terrorist attacks in Tatarstan. Sixteen of his followers received prison terms ranging from three to 12 years. Moderate Muslims and officials in Tatarstan have long been concerned about the growing influence of radical Islamists. An anti-terrorism drill for local law enforcement officers will take place later this month.

Tatarstan Spiritual Leader Injured in Car Blast


RIA Novosti 19/07/2012 The mufti of Russias Volga Republic of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured when his car exploded in the republics capital Kazan on Thursday, the Russian Investigative Committee said. The shockwave threw him out of the car, he received injuries of varying degrees and was hospitalized, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said. "According to preliminary data, there were three blasts in total," Markin added. "The type of the explosive device and its force are currently being established by specialists. They believe the explosive device was planted under the chassis of the car, near the passenger seat." A spokesman for the republics interior ministry said Faizov, who suffered an ankle joint fracture during the blast, is currently being operated on. The blast occurred hours after Faizovs former deputy Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his house. The link between the two attacks and a possible connection to the two victims professional activities is being probed. Both attacks occurred on the day before the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Its evident that these two crimes are directly linked and, most likely, they were performed by the same group. We are probing all versions, from professional activities to the involvement of so-called religious fanatics, a security source in the republic said. Mufti Albir Krganov, first deputy head of the Central Spiritual Board of Russian Muslims, called on all Russian Muslims to stay calm. I call on all believers to show restraint. Those monsters are trying to destroy our stability and peace, and [we need] to avoid giving in to provocations, he said. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Caucasus separatist leader Doku Umarov ordered in 2011 that Tatarstan Muslims should be taught radical Islam and persuaded to join the jihad. Moderate scholars in Tatarstan have since had to counter the growing popularity of radical Islamists from the North Caucasus, most of whom are former militants.

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Traditional Tatar theologist and former Mufti of Tatarstan, Farid Salman, said the attacks showed that the confrontation between radicalism and traditional Islam has intensified in the republic. The fight against clerics who oppose radicalism under the guise of Islam has begun, he said.

Kazan incident a terror attack - Russia's Muftis Council


2012-07-19 13:10:00 Moscow, July 19, Interfax - Russia's Council of Muftis has described as a terror attack the murder in Kazan of the chief of the Tatarstan Mufti Board's Education Department, Valiulla Yakupov, and the attempted killing of Tatarstan Mufti Ildus Faizov. "Terrorism cannot be justified in any way. This barbaric terror attack was carried out ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which is particularly distressing. This tragedy must unite us even further. We must think more about the clergy's security," Damir Gizatullin, the first deputy head of the Muslim Board of Russia's European Part, which is the Council of Muftis' constituent organization, told Interfax-Religion on Thursday. Faizov and his team have been strengthening traditional Sunni Islam. They have been working with citizens intensively "and this could have angered the extremists," he said. "But they will fail to explode the situation, because most of Russia's Muslims are Sunnis, the followers of moderate Islam," he said.

Murder of Tatarstan mufti and his deputy could be work related


2012-07-19 13:34:00 Moscow, July 19, Interfax - Professional work ranks among the theories of the attack on the Tatarstan Muslim Board's top clerics, said Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin. "All theories are being considered, including their professional work," Markin told Interfax on Thursday. Tatarstan's Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakupov could have been assassinated in retaliation for his work, a source in the republic's law enforcement agencies told Interfax. "Yakupov was a strong supporter of the fight against Wahhabism and sought a ban on Wahhabism all over Russia, seeing it as a real threat to traditional Islam," the source said. Yakupov was killed in Kazan on Thursday morning. Sources in Tatarstan's Interior Ministry told Interfax earlier that the deputy mufti was shot dead "while leaving his house" at around 10:00 a.m. He died on the spot. A criminal case was opened into the incident based on murder charges, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said. Tatarstan's mufti was hospitalized in moderately serious condition after his car was blown up in Kazan on Thursday. Yakupov was born in Kazan in 1963. He graduated from Kazan's S. M. Kirov Institute of Chemical Technologies in 1987. He was elected chairman of the Iman Youth Islamic Culture Center in November 1990 and became the imam of Kazan's Apanayev Mosque in 1992. Yakupov served as the rector of the city's Muhammadiya Madrasah from 1993 to 1996, worked as deputy imam representing Kazan at Tatarstan's Spiritual Muslim Board from 1996 to 1998, and ~ 28 ~

was elected the republic's first deputy mufti in 1998. He was appointed to the post of cochairman of the Russian Justice Ministry's State Expert Council for Theological Analysis in 2008. Yakupov, who holds a Ph.D in history, founded Russia's first Islamic literature publishing house, authored a number of theological and historical works and initiated campaigns to promote the popularity of Islam. He also played a key role in establishing the Islamic education system in Tatarstan. Yakupov was known as one of the staunchest opponents of Wahhabism in Russia.

Putin's envoy was warned that Tatarstan mufti could be attacked in April - Perm mufti
2012-07-19 14:21:00 Perm, July 19, Interfax - Perm Territory Mufti Muhammedgali Huzin has claimed that he warned Russian Presidential Envoy to the Volga Federal District Mikhail Babich that the mufti of Tatarstan could be attacked at a meeting of muftis in the Volga Federal District back in April. "I made a report saying that Wahabi sentiments were strengthening in Tatarstan, attributing this to a strong migration flow from the North Caucasus, and that the Muslims in the region were in danger. Babich treated my report with attention. But we see that no proper protective measures were taken," Huzin told Interfax. Interfax has yet to obtain official comments on this information from Babich's secretariat.

New rules of distributing hajj tours could be behind Tatarstan attacks Russian lawmaker
2012-07-19 15:11:00 Moscow, July 19, Interfax - The chairman of the Russian State Duma's Public and Religious Organizations Committee Yaroslav Nilov said the attack on the Tatarstan mufti and the killing of his deputy could have been due to a new rule of distributing hajj tours. "All theories should be checked, but the incident could have been connected in a way with the protest sentiment and the re-drawing of the market of hajj services," Nilov, a lawmaker of the Liberal-Democratic Party faction, told Interfax. "Tatarstan's Muslim public made a statement a few days ago which conveys their protest against the mufti's position, who said now that he has put the sale of tours to Mecca and Medina under his personal control, prices for the tours would go down. But this did not happen," he said. "This angered those who wanted to perform the hajj," he added. "A collective letter was reportedly written and sent to the mufti, which demanded that he honor his promises and blamed him for usurping the market of hajj services," Nilov said. The attack may have been carried out by a dogmatist, or someone who wanted to shake the situation by manipulating the public sentiment, he said, adding that this was his personal opinion and that the official conclusion will be announced by investigators. "Anyway, such an attitude to clerics is unacceptable in the civilized world. There are laws in force and law enforcement services in place. Such terror attacks and murders are appalling," Nilov said.

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Kazan attacks could be rooted in Tatarstan official policy All-Russian Muftis Board
2012-07-19 15:34:00 Moscow, July 19, Interfax All-Russian Muftis Board said the attack on Tatarstan's Mufti Ildus Faizov and the murder of his deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, were partially due to the republic authorities' connivance at the Wahabis. "Back in April 2012 we made a statement expressing concern about the republic authorities' surprising position assumed in times of trouble for Tatarstan's Muslim community, when the Wahabi lobby challenged its defeat and wants to take revenge," the head of the All-Russian Muftis Board's executive committee, Muhammedgali Huzin, told Interfax-Religion on Thursday. He said his organization has always strongly supported Faizov, "who has been dealing with the legacy inherited from his predecessor Gusman Iskhakov alone," he said. "Shots were fired and a blast was set off practically simultaneously, with an interval of just an hour, in different places, which suggests that these barbaric and cynical crimes had been carefully plotted and set for the beginning of the holy lent of Uraza," he said. "The problem of the Kul-Sharif mosque remains unresolved and extremists feel at ease and masters of the Muslim community in Tatarstan, the place where Russia's enlightened Islam originated," he said. "Tatarstan's Muslim Board remains isolated from Russia's mufti boards - not of their own free will, but under the pressure of some of Tatarstan's officials who are putting enormous pressure on the muftis in excess of their powers. The republic president's department for religious organizations remains idle. The officials in charge of this department must be dismissed immediately for failing to cope with the tasks assigned," Huzin said. The republic's government must protect traditional Islam and its leaders and raise barriers to the Wahabis and other radical trends, which have gone so brazen because there are indecent and cowardly people among the government executives who can be intimidated and bribed, he said.

Wahabis behind attacks on Tatarstan Muslim leaders Kadyrov


2012-07-19 16:10:00 Grozny, July 19, Interfax - Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has strongly condemned the attacks staged on Tatarstan's prominent religious figures on Thursday. "A bloody crime was committed in Tatarstan today. The republic's Mufti Ildus Faizov was injured and his deputy Valiulla Yakupov was killed. Both Muslim leaders were known as staunch opponents of religious extremism and its vanguard - Wahhabism. Speaking on behalf of all people living in the Chechen Republic, I send my condolences to Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, the clergy, as well as Yakupov's family and friends. I also wish Faizov a speedy recovery," Kadyrov said in a statement, which was posted on the website of the Chechen head and government. "This tragedy vividly demonstrates that the Wahabis hold nothing sacred and have no genuine faith or mercy toward people. They need blood! Their destiny is to kill people, kill Muslims, kill women, children and helpless citizens," he said. Kadyrov called on the authorities at different levels to take care of religious figures all the time. "First and foremost, it is necessary to ensure the security of the clergy. It is not a secret that it is ~ 30 ~

theologians who resolutely fight against extremism and radicalism, risking their lives and the lives of their families and friends," he said. "It is not the first time Islamic religious figures have been killed in Russia. Muftis, their deputies, imams of districts and villages have been killed. Gang members have killed children and imams and have set fire to their homes. Taking care of the clergy is no less important than measures to develop the economy of the country as a whole and its regions," Kadyrov said. "Spiritual and ethnical upbringing of young people, measures to explain genuine religious values and protecting religion from any influence of extremism and radicalism should become crucial elements of a civil society development policy," the Chechen leader said. "If we become soft and undetermined to please fashionable slogans of all-permissiveness, these enemies of our religion will continue shedding blood, choosing new territories and new victims. People all over the world must fight against this threat. We are simply bound to realize the actual threat coming from it and take preemptive measures. Otherwise, the blood of those who openly condemn Wahhabism will continue pouring," Kadyrov said.

Tatarstan Mufti Injured, Aide Killed In Separate Attacks


by RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service July 19, 2012 KAZAN, Russia -- The government-backed top Islamic leader in Russia's mainly Muslim republic of Tatarstan has been injured and his former deputy killed in two separate attacks. Officials of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate said mufti Ildus Faizov sustained injuries when unknown individuals blew up his car on July 18 in the Tatar capital Kazan. Faizov, 49, has been hospitalized. Officials said that in a second incident, the mufti's former deputy, Valilulla Yakupov, was shot dead near his home in Kazan. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. The Russian Investigative Committee and Tatar officials said probes were under way to apprehend the attackers. Both men were known for their opposition to extremism and radical Islamists who support the strict Salafist version of Islam. Russias Council of Muftis in Moscow condemned the attacks, describing them as terrorist acts. Start Of Ramadan The councils Damir Gizatullin stated that the saddest is the fact that these barbaric actions were conducted on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims of the world are preparing to start the month of Ramadan on July 20. Gizatullin added that the attacks will fail to blow up our society, as the majority of Muslims in Russia are Sunni Muslims who support moderate Islam. The mufti's former deputy, Yakupov, also 49, was a historian who founded Russias first Islamic publishing house and authored a number of theological and historical research works and articles. He was often a guest at various round tables and televised discussions devoted to Islam and its traditional roots in Tatarstan and some other mainly Muslim regions of the Russian Federation.

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When expressing his views regarding religious extremism, Yakupov often said that 70 years of atheism in the Soviet Union had led to complete ignorance among youth in Tatarstan about the traditional Sunni Islam that has deep roots in the region. Yakupov said this ignorance had led some young Tatars to follow Islamic sects that espouse violence and intolerance after the Soviet Unions collapse in 1991.

Putin instructs police quickly investigate attack on Muslim clerics


At an operational meeting of the Security Council on 20 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the assassination attack on the mufti of Tatarstan and instructed the law-enforcement bodies to solve the crime as soon as possible, Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported on the same day, quoting the president's press secretary Dmitriy Peskov. The mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Fayzov, was wounded earlier on 19 July when his car was blown up in Kazan. At about the same time deputy mufti of Tatarstan Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his home. Both religious leaders were known in the republic as staunch opponents of extremism. Five suspects have been detained, RIA Novosti reported. Peskov said the attacks on the Muslim clerics had been discussed separately at the meeting. President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tatarstan has promised to take the strictest measures against those that are destabilizing the situation in the republic, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 20 July, quoting Minnikhanov's statement, which was posted on the official website of the government of Tatarstan. "Tatarstan has always preached traditional Islam, and this will continue," Minnikhanov said at an emergency video conference with the heads of municipalities, which took place after the attacks on the Muslim clerics. In his address to the heads of municipalities, Minnikhanov said that extremism in Tatarstan would be eradicated. Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1556, 1134 gmt 20 Jul 12

One-million-ruble reward announced for information on mufti's assassins


ITAR-TASS | July 20, 2012 Friday Rustam Minnikhanov, the president of Tatarstan, has announced one-million-ruble reward for any information that can lead to disclosing a homicide attempt on Ildus Khazrat Faiz, the Mufti of Tatarstan and the chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Tatarstan, and the murder of Valiulla Yakupov, the mufti's former deputy and the head of the educational department of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Tatarstan. Minnikhanov announced the reward at an emergency video conference with the heads of the republic's municipal districts on Thursday. Mufti Ildus Khazrat Faiz was driving his Land Cruiser when it was exploded at the intersection of the Chetayev and Musin Streets in Kazan at around 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was rushed to hospital with injuries of various degree of gravity and was operated on. Doctors say his life is out of danger, but his two legs are broken.

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The mufti's former deputy Valiulla Yakupov, 64, was attacked in another part of the city approximately the same time. An unidentified gunman fired several shots from fire arms at Yakupov. He died of wounds in the passenger compartment of his car. His body will lie in state at a farewell ceremony on Friday. Police in Kazan have been put on alert. In the meantime, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has presented his condolences to the Mufti on behalf of himself and all Orthodox Christians in Russia. These terrorist acts are designed to undermine the positions of traditional Islam in Russia. "With their unlawful actions the criminals tried to deal a blow at inter-religious cooperation which contributes to peace and public accord in this country," the Patriarch said in his message. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said Ildus Khazrat Faiz and his slain colleague had done a lot to promote a dialogue between Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Patriarch Kirill also presented condolences to the family and relatives of Valiulla Yakupov. He added that both the Mufti and Valiulla Yakupov are known and respected by the Russian Orthodox Church. The patriarch expressed the hope that police would exert every effort to find the criminals who must face strict punishment.

Muslim cleric slain, another hurt in Russia


The Tatarstan attacks appear coordinated. Some say organized crime may be a factor

Sergei L. Loiko Los Angeles Times | July 20, 2012 Friday MOSCOW - A senior Muslim cleric was killed and another seriously injured in what appeared to be coordinated attacks Thursday in central Russia's Tatarstan republic. Valiulla Yakupov, the Islamic chief ideologue in the predominantly Muslim region, was shot several times about 10 a.m. as he was leaving his home, officials said. The mortally wounded cleric made his way to his car parked nearby, where he died, Eduard Abdullin, spokesman for the Tatarstan branch of the Russian Investigative Committee, said in televised remarks. About 15 minutes later, a bomb went off under the car of the region's Islamic leader, Mufti Ildus Faizov, who was injured. No group immediately took responsibility for the assaults, which experts noted were similar to attacks in the North Caucasus that claimed the lives of dozens of muftis and imams over the last decade. The two clerics, who represent state-sanctioned Islam, had been critical of Muslims who preach a more puritanical form of the religion that is widely labeled in Russia as Wahhabism. But some observers suggested possible conflicts with criminal elements over lucrative pilgrimages to Mecca. Shortly after the attack, Russia-24 television news network carried a video in which Faizov could be seen in a hospital bed. In a very low voice, he said that he had stopped at an intersection to make a call after learning about the attack on his deputy when the bomb went off. Faizov had a narrow escape; the attackers obviously "counted that he would be in the passenger seat whereas he was in the driver's seat," Abdullin said to Russia-24. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that "the culprits will be found, exposed and punished."

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"This demonstrates just one more time that the situation in our country is far from ideal," the visibly tense Russian leader said in televised video. Putin, who came to power as acting president in late 1999, swore to eradicate terrorism in Russia and unleashed a war on the breakaway republic of Chechnya after a series of terrorist attacks and apartment bombings in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. The brief war propelled Putin to victory in the 2000 election, but it failed to eradicate armed resistance in the North Caucasus and resulted in a string of terrorist attacks across Russia. Chechen rebel commander Doku Umarov ordered militants from the Caucasus into central Russia to rouse Muslims, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Thursday in an analytical piece on the religious situation in Tatarstan. The report said the newcomers prevailed in 10 of the more than 50 mosques in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. "The mujahedin [Muslim fighters] of yesterday are moving into Tatarstan and the neighboring regions around the Volga to spread among the local Muslims the religious ideology which exists today in the North Caucasus," the report said. Yakupov, the slain cleric, "resolutely opposed all kinds of radical movements," said senior Islamic official Rushan Abbyasov. "It was a heinous and cynical crime to kill a Muslim cleric on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan as he was walking out of his house unarmed to spread peace and accord," Abbyasov, deputy chairman of the Russian Muftis Council, said in an interview Thursday. The confrontation between traditional and radical Islam is intensifying, said Alexei Malashenko, a senior expert on Islam with the Moscow Carnegie Center, who warned against a hasty crackdown in Tatarstan. "The latest attack -- the way it was implemented -- certainly looks as if the fire from the North Caucasus is coming up here already," Malashenko said in an interview. "But I also have a strong fear that if the state comes out to crack down on such communities in Tatarstan in full force, it may result in a backlash of violence that should be avoided by all means." Another observer said the attacks may have had nothing to do with radical Islam, which he said is unlikely to dominate in Tatarstan. "Tatarstan Muslim leaders tightly control the holy hajj quotas issued to Tatarstan for Mecca travels, and there is so much money involved in it," said Maxim Shevchenko, a television anchor and expert on Islam. "There are so many powerful organized crime groups in Tatarstan that I wouldn't be surprised that some of them would want to get their cut of it too."

2 Russian Muslim leaders are targets of rare attacks


One is killed by gunfire, and another wounded by explosion in Tatarstan ANDREW ROTH The International Herald Tribune | July 20, 2012 Friday One senior Muslim official was killed and another wounded in separate attacks on Thursday in the central Russian republic of Tatarstan, an unusual outbreak of violence in an area often held up as a model of harmonious interfaith relations. The head of Islamic education for the region, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot and killed outside his home on Thursday morning in Kazan. Less than an hour later, Ildus Faizov, the chief mufti for the Tatarstan region, was hospitalized after a bomb exploded in a car he was driving in Kazan, Russian investigators said. Mr. Faizov, who was thrown clear of the automobile by the force of the explosion, suffered two broken legs.

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Russia's Anti-Terrorism Committee said several motives for the attacks were being investigated, including recent statements against the growth of religious radicalism in the republic by the organization Mr. Faizov runs, the Islamic Spiritual Council of Tatarstan. Rustam Minnikhanov, the president of the Tatarstan republic, said in a statement that the attack was an ''obvious challenge'' to the traditional Islam supported by Mr. Faizov and the Islamic Spiritual Council. Mr. Faizov, who was elected the region's chief mufti in 2011, has championed a fight against the growth of radical Islam in the republic. In April, he said in a public statement that thousands of foreign missionaries had entered Tatarstan, and that ''radical Muslim sects had emerged, which are ready even to kill the local population to further their goals.'' Mr. Faizov prompted a scandal in April when he dismissed the head of the Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan, exacerbating tensions between the government-supported Islamic Spiritual Council and followers of the imam. Mr. Sharif wrote that the scandal was provoked by Wahhabists and members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an Islamic movement that has been declared a terrorist organization in Russia. Mr. Yakupov was also an outspoken critic of radical Islam and had called for a ban on Wahhabism in Russia. In 2010, three Islamists were killed in a gun battle with the police in the Nurlatsky region of Tatarstan, raising fears of an armed insurgency similar to the one in Russia's North Caucasus. In January, the police discovered several homemade explosive devices in the village of Memdel that they said were made by an Uzbek extremist living in the region. The majority of Tatarstan's population are Sunni Muslims who have been heavily influenced by Russian control since the region was conquered in the mid 16th century. The Interior Ministry of the Tatarstan republic put all members and locations of the Islamic Spiritual Council for Tatarstan under guard, and Russia's Investigative Committee said it was opening criminal investigations into the two attacks.

Four men suspected of attempt to kill Mufti of Tatarstan detained


ITAR-TASS | July 20, 2012 Friday Four men suspected of an attempt to assassinate Ildus Khazrat Faiz, the Mufti of Tatarstan, and of the murder of his former deputy Valiulla Yakupov have been detained, the Russian Investigative Committee reports on Friday. "Owing to professional coordinated actions of three departments - the Investigative Committee, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry's department for Tatarstan - four people suspected of the murder of Valiulla Yakupov and an attempt on the life of Ildus Faizov in Kazan on July 19, have been detained today," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said. "These are the chairman of the Idel-Hajj company's board of directors, Rustem Gataullin (57), the head of Vakf parish, Kazan resident Murat Galleyev (39), resident of the republic's Vysokogorsky district Airat Shakirov (41) and resident of the republic's Laishev district, Azat Gainutdinov (31)," he said. "According to investigators, professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents, was the main motive behind the crime," Markin said. "Thus after Faizov was elected Mufti of Tatarstan, he chose a tough stance on organizations professing radical Islamic views in the republic. Besides, he assumed control over flows of money of Idel-Hajj, which was sending Muslims of Tatarstan for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca," Markin said. ~ 35 ~

"He had a conflict related to that with the head of that organization, who threatened Faizov," he added. On Friday, investigators will initiate procedures to take the suspects in custody. Right ahead of the assassination attempt the press service of the Spiritual Department of Muslims (SDM) said that two new operators had been fixed for Tatarstan Muslim's Hajj. Meanwhile, several days ago Internet media posted an appeal of Tatarstan's pilgrims to the mufti of the republic. The believers accused the local muftiat of organizing business at the expense of pilgrims, refused to use the services of the SDM for the Hajj, as well as demanded to give the allocated quotas for visiting Mecca to other operators. Ildus Faizov himself told reporters earlier that these accusations were "slander or rumors". The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca this year will take place at the end of October. The homicide attempt on the mufti occurred at the intersection of Chetayev Street in Kazan at about 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was inside his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado car when the bomb struck. Ildus Khazrat Faizov was rushed to hospital with traumas and wounds. In the meantime, unidentified gunman fired several shots at the mufti's former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, 64, at approximately the same time on Thursday morning. The man died of wounds in his car.

Five detained in Kazan on suspicion of murder & homicide attempt


ITAR-TASS | July 20, 2012 Friday The condition of Ildus Khazrat Faiz, the Mufti of Tatarstan and the head of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Tatarstan, has stabilized after yesterday's assassination attempt on his life. The press service of the regional Health Ministry told Itar-Tass on Friday that doctors would allow the mufti to walk on crutches on Saturday, July 21. "He's lying in a separate intensive care ward at the Republican Clinical Hospital," the regional Health Ministry went on to say. Doctors say the mufti's swollen extremity was getting better. Mufti Ildus Khazrat Faiz was driving his Land Cruiser when it was exploded at the intersection of the Chetayev and Musin Streets in Kazan at around 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was rushed to hospital with injuries of various degree of gravity and was operated on. His two legs were broken. The mufti's former deputy Valiulla Yakupov, 64, was attacked in another part of the city approximately the same time. An unidentified gunman fired several shots from fire arms at Yakupov. He died of wounds in the passenger compartment of his car. Rustam Minnikhanov, the president of Tatarstan, has announced a one-million-ruble reward for any information that could lead to disclosing the homicide attempt on Ildus Khazrat Faiz, and the murder of Valiulla Yakupov. A hotline opened by Tatarstan's Interior Ministry has received numerous calls, predominantly, from Kazan residents who gave the addresses of city mosques which, they believe, are frequently visited by the followers of radical Islam. Five crime suspects have been detained in Kazan on Friday. They include Rustem Gataullin, 57, the chairman of the board of directors of the Idel-Haj company; Murat Galeyev, a 39-year-old resident of Kazan and the head of the 'Vakf' Muslim parish; Airat Shakirov, a 41-year-od resident of the Vysokogorsky district of Tatarstan; Azat Gainutdinov, 31, a resident of the republic's Laishevsky district, and a 26-year-old Uzbek national, Abdunozim Ataboyev, who's registered in Kazan.

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Investigators are considering two versions: a conflict with followers of radical Islam and control over funds meant for sending pilgrims to the Haj in Mecca. In the meantime, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has presented his condolences to the Mufti on behalf of himself and all Orthodox Christians in Russia. These terrorist acts are designed to undermine the positions of traditional Islam in Russia. "With their unlawful actions the criminals tried to deal a blow at inter-religious cooperation which contributes to peace and public accord in this country," the Patriarch said in his message. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said Ildus Khazrat Faiz and his slain colleague had done a lot to promote a dialogue between Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Patriarch Kirill also presented condolences to the family and relatives of Valiulla Yakupov. He added that both the Mufti and Valiulla Yakupov are known and respected by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Fifth suspect in attempt on mufti's life detained


ITAR-TASS | July 20, 2012 Friday A fifth suspect in an attempt on the life of Ildus Khazrat Faizov, the Mufti of Tatarstan, has been detained, the Russian Investigative Committee reports on Friday. "Investigative agencies of the Tatarstan department of the Russian Investigative Committee have detained Uzbek national Abdunozim Ataboyev, 36, registered in Kazan. He is suspected of an attempt on the life of republic's Mufti Ildus Faizov," spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said. According to investigators, "shortly before the explosion of Faizov's car, Ataboyev followed it in his car, and right after the explosion he rushed away from the scene," Markin said. Earlier on Friday, four men suspected of the murder of Valiulla Yakupov and an attempt on the life of Ildus Faizov in Kazan on July 19, were detained. These are the chairman of the Idel-Hajj company's board of directors, Rustem Gataullin (57), the head of Vakf parish, Kazan resident Murat Galleyev (39), resident of the republic's Vysokogorsky district Airat Shakirov (41) and resident of the republic's Laishev district, Azat Gainutdinov (31). All of them are being questioned, Markin said. In case suspicions are not confirmed the detained men will be immediately released, he added. Investigators consider two main versions - a conflict with radical Islamists and a conflict over control over money for Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Earlier investigators said professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents, was the main motive behind the crime. "Thus after Faizov was elected Mufti of Tatarstan, he chose a tough stance on organizations professing radical Islamic views in the republic. Besides, he assumed control over money of Idel-Hajj, which was sending Muslims of Tatarstan for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca," Markin said earlier. "He had a conflict related to that with the head of that organization, who threatened Faizov," he added. The homicide attempt on the mufti occurred at the intersection of Chetayev Street in Kazan at about 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was inside his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado car when the bomb struck. Ildus Khazrat Faizov was rushed to hospital with traumas and wounds. In the meantime, unidentified gunman fired several shots at the mufti's former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, 64, at approximately the same time on Thursday morning. The man died of wounds in his car.

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Five suspects detained over assaults on Muslim officials


Moscow News | July 20, 2012 Friday Five suspects in Thursday's double attack on Muslim officials in Kazan have been detained, the Investigative Committee said Friday. The case of the attempted assasination of Tatarstan's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, and the murder of his deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, has been classified as a terrorist attack and is now being checked for financial motives. '[Faizov] took control of the money flow at the Idel-Hajj organization, which arranges tours to Mecca for Muslims, and this caused a conflict between the mufti and the organization's head,' according to a statement published on the committee's website. Suspects A fifth suspect in the case - an Uzbek national registered in Kazan, Abdunazim Ataboyev, 36 - was detained on Friday afternoon, RIA Novosti reported. Investigators said Ataboyev followed Faizov's car shortly before it blew up and fled the scene shortly after the blast that injured Faizov, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told the agency. Rustem Gataullin, 57, chairman of Idel-Hajj's board of directors, was detained in the morning when he arrived at Kazan's airport after a business trip to Moscow. Local religious leader Murat Galleyev, 39, and two residents of Tatarstan - Airat Shakirov, 41, and Azat Gainutdinov, 31, were arrested earlier. Fighting radicalism Apart from financial interest, the assault could be due to 'ideological disagreement' and other aspects of Faizov and Yakupov's professional activities, according to the Investigative Committee. Other Russian Muslim officials believe a business dispute is an improbable motive, however. Farid Salman, of the All-Russian Muftiyat, an Islamic council for religious affairs, said at Yakupov's funeral on Friday that the two men were strongly opposed to extremist branches of Islam, Interfax reported. Yakupov, who was shot dead on Thursday morning near his home in Kazan, 'headed the ideological battle with Wahhabism and Salafism' in Tatarstan and nationwide, Salman said. Financial motives Allegations of profiting from hajj tours, however, had emerged before Thursday's attack. In an open letter published by some Russian media, Faizov was accused of 'organizing his own business on hajj.' The chief mufti denied all accusations and called them slander, Interfax reported. Kommersant reported that until recently, Idel Hajj was the only hajj tour organizer in the republic of Tatarstan. In April, Faizov announced that a new agency called Tatar Delovoi Mir (Tatar Business World) would be put in charge of organizing trips to Mecca for Muslims from Tatarstan. The company is fully owned by the Spiritual Bureau for Muslims of Tatarstan, which used to be headed by Faizov and is an official religious organization in the republic. It also has a 20 percent stake in Idel Hajj, where 49 percent belonged to Gataullin, according to the Russian company database SPARK.

Muslim leaders attacked in Russia


Will Englund The Washington Post | July 20, 2012 Friday

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MOSCOW - Assassins on Thursday attacked Russia's two most prominent Muslim opponents of religious extremism, killing one, in a move that stoked fears the nation'slong, violent struggle against Islamic radicals may be spreading. Both men were targeted in Kazan, a serene, prosperous city on the Volga River that is the capital of Tatarstan, Russia's traditional Muslim heartland. Valiulla Yakupov, a deputy mufti, was killed and Ildus Faizov, Tatarstan's chief mufti, was hospitalized. Authorities quickly blamed radical Islamists for the attacks, noting that the two men were staunch defenders of their traditional culture and had been engaged in an escalating struggle against Salafi influence among the Tatars. If they are right, it could mark a turning point for Russia and for its Islamist insurrectionists, who until now have mostly focused on terrorist acts in the rugged North Caucasus, far to the south. It is also likely to fuel Russian alarm over Islamic extremism, already evident in Moscow's continuing warnings about al-Qaeda's presence within the opposition to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Tatarstan, with a population of 4 million, is an important oil-producing region in the middle of Russia. It has been a center of Islamic culture since the 10th century, and it held sway over Moscow until Ivan the Terrible turned the tables and conquered Kazan in 1552. Yakupov was shot dead in the lobby of his house as he was leaving for work. "He was one of the ideological leaders of Tatar Muslims," said Alexei Malashenko, of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Faizov, his superior, was thrown from his car by an explosion about an hour later. Both his legs were broken, but he is expected to survive. "They wanted to defend traditional Russian Islam against extremists and radicals," said Mukhamedgali Khuzin, head of the Central Spiritual Board of Muslims of Russia. "Law enforcement agencies should finally wake up. There should be no negotiations with extremists. You should fight this ideology based on hatred with arms, not words." Russia fought two wars against Chechen separatists in the 1990s, and radical Islamists have been especially active in neighboring Dagestan, where at least five imams have been killed in the past 13 months, and more than 50 since the 1990s. A replay of Dagestan in Tatarstan would be a nightmare for Russia. Roman Silantyev, a Christian scholar and expert on Muslim issues in Russia, said the nightmare is at hand. "This is the beginning," he said, "of a total war against Islam in Russia" - by Islamists. The Volga region has been calm up to now. But Eduard Ponarin, an expert on Russian Muslims in St. Petersburg, said that when violence begins, it can accelerate rapidly. "The authorities are bound to do something, and then the Salafis will respond, and it can get very bad," he said. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a group of lawmakers: "It's a serious signal. We have on the whole been aware of what's going on in some Russian regions, but being aware is not enough. It is necessary to understand the situation, analyze it and make timely decisions." After the Soviet collapse, Saudi missionaries preached their brand of puritanical Islam among a Tatar population that had maintained only the most tenuous ties to religion after 70 years of communism. The Tatars had developed a theology over the centuries that stressed rational thinking and tolerance - living, as they did, side by side with Orthodox Christian Russians - and that venerated ancestors and saints. To Salafis, that is anathema. And, largely ignorant of their own cultural past, many young Tatars have been drawn to the simplicity of Salafi Islam. They think of it as a "complete" religion - that is, perfect, unevolving, unquestionable. And they consider the traditional Muslim establishment to be hopelessly compromised by its association with first Soviet, and then Russian, political authorities. One imam, in the city of Almetyevsk, in easternmost Tatarstan, contemptuously referred to the religious leaders in Kazan as "mullahcrats" during a 2010 interview.

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No imam openly advocates violence in Tatarstan, and even the most radical say they are trying to help Tatars recover their own religion. "Today they are soft and mild," Rafik Mukhametshin, the head of the Islamic University in Kazan, said, also in 2010. "Tomorrow they will pick up guns and start shooting." Faizov and Yakupov drew criticism, even from establishment Muslims, because of their warnings about potential terrorists in their midst, Silantyev said. "Yakupov has given his life now for that." Yakupov, over the years, had been especially alarmed by the appeal of the "pure" Islam of his opponents. Trained as a chemist, he once told Danis Garayev, the editor of a Web site on Islam in Kazan, "I understand there is no such thing as a pure substance." Ponarin called him "pragmatic, very able, and even cunning." A key moment may have been a showdown over Faizov's effort in April to remove a popular imam from a mosque in Kazan. He and Yakupov received death threats, and finally the political authorities told them to back off. That, Khuzin said, only emboldened the radicals supporting the imam. Ponarin said the religious leaders in Kazan now have to choose between clinging ever more closely to the political establishment and deepening their claim to moral authority by distancing themselves from secular power and adopting a more conservative approach to their religion. However they choose, the political leaders are certain to crack down on anyone they perceive to be a religious extremist. The results may not be what they want. "This is the process of the activation of Islamic radicalism," said Malashenko.

Russian envoy suspects money, beliefs behind attack on Muslim clerics


The Russian president's envoy to the Volga Federal District Mikhail Babich has said that police are considering both economic and religious reasons behind the attacks on Muslim clerics in Tatarstan on 19 July, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 20 July. The mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Fayzov, was wounded on 19 July when his car was blown up in Kazan. At about the same time deputy mufti of Tatarstan Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead near his home. Mikhail Babich told reporters that the economic theory of the assassination attempt and the murder may be considered only in conjunction with the religious theory. "There is a theory of the economic background to the crime, which raises a lot of questions: who goes to Hajj, who finances this, how money is collected and counted," Babich said. "That is a set of issues that are not regulated by the law and which are, in fact, in a grey, uncontrollable area," he said. The envoy said that, according to his information, money received for the support of Hajj can be used to finance radical Islamic cells. "These cells can later commit terrorist acts, and this is a religious issue. So this is a question of legalization of illegally earned money, illegal financing, including the financing of the armed underground or extremist activity," Babich said. The envoy also said that in the Volga Federal District all necessary measures would be taken to prevent similar attacks. "We should look deeper into this incident: why was this possible? Can this be repeated? We need to take measures at the regional and federal level to prevent a potential spread of this infection," he said.

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According Babich, both the traditional and the radical branches of Islam were able to live peacefully side by side in the Volga region, but after radical Islamist ideas began spreading across the region, the authorities needed to be more careful. "We regard this incident is a challenge to the authorities. The authorities should prove its worth and deal with the developing situation. Now that the radicals have crossed the red line, and resorted to terrorism, we are going to root them out mercilessly," Babich said. Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1305 gmt 20 Jul 12

Tatarstan's mufti and his deputy paid a price for their anti-Wahhabi efforts
Itar-Tass World Service writer Lyudmila Alexandrova July 20, 2012 Friday The murder of Tatarstan's deputy mufti and an assassination attempt on the mufti have stirred up a wide public response in Russia. This is the first attack on highest religious leaders in Russia outside volatile North Caucasian republics. Investigators say the crime was committed by local Wahhabis. This point of view in shared by the majority of experts. On Thursday, on the eve of the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, attacks were committed on the mufti of Tatarstan, the head of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of the republic, Ildus Khazrat Faizov, and his former deputy Valiulla Yakupov. The mufti was hospitalized after his car was blown up, and Yakupov died of gun wounds on the way to hospital. Four men have already been detained on suspicion of committing these crimes. These are the chairman of the Idel-Hajj company's board of directors, Rustem Gataullin, 57, the head of Vakf parish, Murat Galleyev, 39, and two local residents. According to investigators, professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents, was the main motive behind the crime, spokesman for the Russian Investigations Committee Vladimir Markin said on Friday. Thus, in his words, after Faizov was elected Mufti of Tatarstan, "he took a tough stance in respect of organizations professing radical Islamic views in the republic." Besides, he assumed control over flows of money of Idel-Hajj, which was engaged in sending Tatarstan's Muslims for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. According to Markin, this was the motive underlining his conflict with the head of that organization, "who threatened Faizov." Sources in the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper that for a long period of time Idel-Hajj has been keeping pilgrim's money, letting, in exchange, its partners from Saudi Arabia, a country with Salafism brought to a level of a state religion, to propagandize Wahhabi views among pilgrims from Tatarstan. Putting an end to Idel-Hajj's monopoly, Faizov, as a matter of fact, has stripped it off big money. Experts say Wahhabis have become more active in Tatarstan in recent times. After Ildus Faizov took the office of head of Tatarstan's Spiritual Administration of the Muslims in April 2011, he has been pursuing a rigorous policy to get rid of advocates of extremist Islamic ideology among the Muslim spiritual leaders. His predecessor, mufti Gusman Iskhakov, according to experts, connived at the activity of Wahhabis from Russia's North Caucasian republics and Arab countries, who were allowed to take key posts in local mosques and madrasahs. In a short period of time, Faizov managed to oust extremists from the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims. But tens of the so-called private mosques and parishes in Tatarstan's trans-Kama districts, primarily in the towns of Almetyevsk and Nizhnekamsk, were still out of control of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims. These mosques and parishes were used as centres of resistance to Faizov's anti-Wahhabi policy. Supporters of the former head of the Spiritual ~ 41 ~

Administration of the Muslims gave a hostile reception to representatives of the new head of Tatarstan's ummah. According to Rais Suleimanov, the head of the Volga Centre of Regional and Ethno-religious Studies of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research, Tatarstan's mufti was regularly receiving SMS-messages and letters to his e-mail with threats. However some experts and politicians put the blame for what has happened not only on extremists but on officials as well. Thus, back in April, head of the executive committee of the AllRussia Muftiat Mukhammedgali Khuzin warned the Russian authorities about the alarming situation in Tatarstan. He told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper about a closed-door meeting with Russian president's envoy in the Volga federal district Mikhail Babich in the city of Orenburg on April 26. "I reported about growing Wahhabi moods in Tatarstan, which, to a larger extent, stem from the fact that more and more migrants are coming from North Caucasian republics. I stressed that Tatarstan's Muslim leaders need serious protection," he said. The presidential envoy, in his words, listened attentively and agreed with his reasons but no measures followed. Also in April, Tatarstan's Wahhabis gained control over the republic's chief mosque, Kul-Sharif. "They installed their imam there," the mufti said. "The republic is now following Dagestan's scenario! Why are the authorities turning a blind eye on this situation? Someone must be held responsible for growing extremist moods in the republic. I am sure that the leaders of Tatarstan's Administration for Religious Affairs should be called to answer." "Radicalization of Tatarstan's Muslims was not a secret but the authorities preferred to deny this fact," the Nezavisimaya Gazeta cites Alexei Malashenko, a member of the scientific council of the Carnegie Moscow Center. In his words, the radicalization process was spurred by missionaries from the North Caucasus and the Middle East. "Traditional Hanafi Islam has been challenged by Wahhabis in the republic. Moreover, we can speak of a certain internationalization of Islamic radicalism. There were influences from the North Caucasus and even from Central Asia," he said. According to Malashenko, the focal point is the murder of Valiulla Yakupov, an outstanding scholar and thinker who professed ideas of traditional Islam. "Valiulla was a typical traditionalist, an advocate of Tatar Hanafi Islam, he had opponents both among Salafis and among those who profess Euro-Islam," the expert noted. Political scientist Roman Silantyev says it is quite obvious who is behind these crimes. "Over the past two years, three uncompromising fighters against Wahhbism have been killed, namely mufti of Kabardino-Balkaria Anas Pshikhayev, rector of the Makhachkala-based Islamic University Maksud Sadikov, and now Valiulla Yakupov," he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets. "Each of the previous murders was followed by an orgy of exultant extremists on Wahhabi forums." Both Yakupov and Faizov received numerous threats. "They spared no effort not to let Tatarstan sink into Dagestan's scenario. The last straw was their attempt to take control over pilgrimage to Mecca, since the Hajj was used by radical Islamists to recruit neophytes," he said. According to Silantyev, one more evidence proving this theory is the fact that it is a typical Wahhabi tactics to kill people on the eve of big religious holidays.

Muslims of Russia denounce attempt on Mufti of Tatarstan's life


ITAR-TASS | July 20, 2012 The Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia has made a statement in connection with an attempt on the life of Ildus Khazrat Faiz, the Mufti of Tatarstan, and the murder of his former deputy Valiulla Yakupov.

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"A heinous crime has been committed which cannot be justified. The crime based on an absolute refusal to listen to the God's word, strictly warning in the Koran that the one who killed for nothing even one person attempts on the whole world, on the humankind," the statement stressed. It marked that Valiulla Yakupov, rightly representing the young generation of Muslims of Russia, had been cynically killed before the month of fasting. "It is absolutely evident that those responsible for that are implacable enemies of not only Muslims, but of the whole immense, united and multi-confessional family of the peoples of our great Fatherland," the statement stressed. The Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia has expressed sincere condolences to the next-of-kin of Yakupov as well as sympathy for Ildus Faizov wounded in a terrorist attack. "We urge all Russians not to yield to attempts to destabilize the situation in our country, maintain tranquility, peace and accord in our Fatherland for the sake of its unity and prosperity, for the sake of preserving traditions of Islam - priceless heritage of our faithful ancestors," the statement said. The homicide attempt on the mufti occurred at the intersection of Chetayev Street in Kazan at about 11:00 on Thursday morning. The mufti was inside his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado car when the bomb struck. Ildus Khazrat Faizov was rushed to hospital with traumas and wounds. In the meantime, unidentified gunman fired several shots at the mufti's former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, 64, at approximately the same time on Thursday morning. The man died of wounds in his car.

Chief Mufti Injured, Deputy Dead in Two Attacks in Kazan


By Wyatt Ford The Kazan Herald | 20 July 2012 Tatarstans chief mufti was wounded and another local Muslim leader was killed yesterday in two separate attacks, which Russian authorities are investigating as terrorist attacks.

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Mufti Ildus Faizov was riding in a Toyota Land-Cruiser at 11 a.m. on 19 June when it exploded near building number 35 on ulitsa Musina, the Tatarstan Ministry of Interior reported. The mufti survived the blast and is in stable condition, although both of his legs have been broken. One hour earlier, Valiulla Yakupov, Faizovs deputy in the Tatarstan Spiritual Administration of Muslims (DUM) was gunned down in the entranceway to a building on ulitsa Zarya. Yakupov managed to exit the building and get into a car that was waiting for him on the street, where he died, according to the Ministry of Interior. Six 9mm casings were found at the crime scene, but the gunman was not identified. Faizov was reportedly aware of the death of Yakupov and making a phone call when he felt the first of three explosions in the car, prompting him to exit the vehicle. It was good that I wasnt wearing a seatbelt, he was reported as saying in the hospital afterward. President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, who paid a visited to the hospitalized Faizov, denounced the attacks in a statement released by the Tatarstan Ministry of Interior. The leadership of our DUM practice traditional Islam. Of course, other strains of belief exist, and what happened today was a clear challenge, Minnikhanov said. Law enforcement will carry out a detailed investigation, but I believe that these attacks are connected with their roles as religious leaders. The attacks are being investigated as terrorist acts, according to representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Volga Region. Four suspects were taken into custody today. Faizov, chief mufti of Kazan for little over a year, has been vocal in denouncing terrorism and radical Islam. His appointment of a new imam for Kazans Kul Sharif Mosque in the spring of this year was met with some resistance and protest, which he attributed to fringe elements of a Wahabbi movement and Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The majority of ethnic Tatars are Sunni Muslims. In contrast to Chechnya and other politically unstable regions of Russia that have seen the emergence of strong radical Islamic elements, Tatarstan boasts an economy rich in oil and Tatar Muslims who espouse a moderate Islam grounded steeped in Sufism over several centuries. This history has been touted by Tatarstans current political leadership as a paragon of tolerance that Russia and other countries can learn from. The weight of this claim is now being evaluated by scores of international news outlets covering the story.

Russian imam's suspected killers detained


Fri, Jul. 20, 2012 The Associated Press MOSCOW -- Five people suspected of killing a top Muslim cleric and wounding another in Tatarstan province were detained Friday, Russian prosecutors said. Valiulla Yakupov, the deputy to the province's chief mufti, was gunned down Thursday in the regional capital of Kazan. Minutes later, the chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, suffered leg wounds after an explosive device ripped through his car. Both clerics were known to be critics of the radical Islamist groups that have mushroomed in recent years in this predominantly Muslim Volga River province of 4 million people. Faizov has also been criticized by media in Tatarstan for allegedly profiting on tours he organized for Muslim pilgrims and for trying to gain control of one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kazan, which receives hefty donations from thousands of believers.

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The Investigative Committee said Friday that one of the suspects - Rustem Gataullin, 57 - owned a company that organized hajj pilgrimages, and another one - Murat Galleyev, 39 - heads a religious institution in Tatarstan. The 49-year-old Faizov became Tatarstan's chief mufti in 2011 and began a crackdown on radical Islamists by dismissing ultraconservative preachers and banning textbooks from Saudi Arabia, where the government-approved religious doctrine is based on Salafism. The rise in Tatarstan of radical adherents of an austere, puritanical version of Islam known as Salafism has been fueled by the influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's Caucasus region, where an Islamic insurgency has been raging for years. Last year, Doku Umarov, leader of the embattled Chechen separatists, issued a religious decree calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the densely-populated Volga River region that includes Tatarstan. Islamic radicals from the Caucasus have called for the establishment of a caliphate, an independent Islamic state under Shariah law that includes the Caucasus, Tatarstan and other parts of Russia that were once part of the Golden Horde - a medieval Muslim state ruled by a Tatar-Mongol dynasty. The other three suspects in the case are Airat Shakirov, 41; Azat Gainutdinov, 31, and Abdunozim Ataboyev, a 36-year-old national of ex-Soviet Uzbekistan. The investigators did not provide any details on their occupation or background.

Fifth Suspect Held Over Kazan Mufti Bombing


RIA Novosti 20/07/2012 A fifth suspect was detained over Thursdays car bombing of the Mufti of Tatarstan in Kazan and the fatal shooting of his former deputy, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Friday. The Mufti, Ildus Faizov, suffered a leg injury in the car bomb blast. Earlier that day, Valiulla Yakupov, a high-ranking member of the spiritual directorate of the republic and head of its education department, was shot dead at his home. The first four suspects were detained on Thursday. Investigators named them as Rustem Gataullin, the 57-year-old director of the largest Hajj tourism operator; Murat Gallev, 39; Airat Shakirov, 41, and Azat Gainutdinov, 31. The fifth suspect was identified as Abdunozim Ataboyev, a 36-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, Markin said. Investigators think the main motive for the crime was the professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with their opponents, Markin said. After Faizov was elected chief Mufti of Tatarstan, he took up a firm line against radical Muslim organizations in Tatarstan. In addition, he took control of financing of the Idel Hajj tour operator, which was sending muslims to Mecca, and in this way he was caught up in conflict with the leaders of organizations which threatened Faizov. According to its website, Idel Hajj is one of Russias leading tour operators, and is in the top 100 operators in the country according to the PLIMSOLL analytical agency. The company has offices throughout Russia. Traditional Tatar theologist and former Mufti of Tatarstan, Farid Salman, said the attacks showed that the confrontation between radicalism and traditional Islam has intensified in the republic. The fight against clerics who oppose radicalism under the guise of Islam has begun, he said. ~ 45 ~

Berel Lazar: any compromise with terrorists inspires them towards more violence
2012-07-20 10:08:00 Moscow, July 20, Interfax - Berel Lazar, Russia's Chief Rabbi, has urged the government to outlaw any organizations or groups professing the ideology of extremism and violence. "Regrettably, we witnessed yet another terrible crime against religious leaders - not even in the Caucasus, but in the very heart of Russia, in Tatarstan, a region traditionally distinguished by its tolerance of faith, where representatives of all of major religions of our county have peacefully coexisted for centuries, where all religions are treated with equal respect," the rabbi said in a statement in the wake of terrorist attacks in Kazan. Lazar personally knew imam Valiulla Yakupov, who was killed in one of the attacks, and is personally acquainted with Tatarstan's Chief Mufti Ildus Faizov, who narrowly survived an assassination against him. Both are known as "virtuous and kind people". "But the perpetrators know not what virtue is. Human kindness and tolerance evoke nothing but hatred and malice in them. All they want is to sow terror and fear in order to impose the peoples of our country their beastly ideology," the statement says. Lazar offered deep condolences to the relatives and friends of the slain cleric, and will pray for Faizov's speedy recovery.

Five Arrested In Tatar Attacks


by RFE/RL July 20, 2012 Investigators in Russia say five men have been arrested in connection with the attacks on two Islamic spiritual leaders in the mainly Muslim republic of Tatarstan. Mufti Ildus Faizov suffered broken legs and other injuries in a car bombing on July 19 in the Tatar capital, Kazan. The attack came an hour after his former deputy and close associate, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead in a different district of the city. One Uzbek citizen and four Tatars have been arrested in connection with the attacks, including the owner of a travel company specializing in trips to the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage. Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin suggested the attacks could be linked to Faizov's control over hajj funding. The Investigative Committee spokesman said Faizov put Idel-Hajj's financial flows under his direct supervision after being appointed mufti in January 2011. "After Faizov was elected chief mufti of Tatarstan, he adopted a tough stance on organizations professing radical Islamic views in the republic," Markin said. "Faizov was blocking the activities of organizations propagating this trend in Islam. In addition, he took under his supervision the flow of money to Idel-Hajj, which was sending Muslims to [the hajj in] Mecca. He had a conflict related to that with the head of that organization, who threatened Faizov." ~ 46 ~

The brazen, mid-morning attacks are seen as a rarity in Tatarstan, which has witnessed little of the violence against religious leaders common in other Muslim-majority republics in Russia's North Caucasus. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on July 19 that the attacks sent a "serious signal" to authorities. Putin noted an apparent lack of measures to protect the leaders. Federal authorities have characterized the failed assassination attempt on Faizov as a terrorist attack. Members of the Investigative Committee and the Federal Security Service participated in the July 20 arrests, alongside local police. The body of Faizov's former deputy Yakupov will lie in state at a farewell ceremony on July 20. Police in the Tatar capital have been put on alert for further violence. Yakupov, 49, had been a powerful member of Tatarstan's Muftiyat spiritual board for two decades and had recently become the head of its education department. Both he and Faizov, also 49, were seen as having close ties to the Kremlin and had acted to centralize Tatarstan's Muslim structures. Such moves were seen as an effort to discourage what they saw as more radical forms of Islam, such as Wahhabism, which has been blamed for a rise in sectarian violence in the restive North Caucasus. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has expressed regret over the attacks on Faizov and Yakupov, saying the violence deals a blow to "traditional Islam" and "interreligious cooperation."

Mosques of Southern Russia start Ramadan with prayers for assassinated Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan
Asya Kapaeva Caucasian Knot Jul 20 2012, 10:00 On July 19, with the sunset, the sacred month of Ramadan started. The first day of fasting began today, on July 20. It will last approximately until August 19. In many mosques in Southern Russia after the prayer "Taraweeh" (a desirable night namaz, executed during Ramadan), Muslims commended a prayer for the murdered Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan Waliullah Yakupov. Waliullah Yakupov was shot and in the morning on July 19 in Kazan, when he went out of his house. He died on the spot. Also on that day, an attempt was made on the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov. His car was blown up at about 11 a.m.; and he was injured. The investigating authorities do not rule out that both attempts are interlinked. Muftis of Russia consider the murder of Waliullah Yakupov a great loss for the entire Islamic community; according to their story, he was a prominent reformer and educator, the founder and leader of the major publishing house "Iman", who had contributed a lot to the development of Islamic religious education and journalism in the country. In all the mosques of the Stavropol Territory, after the prayer "Taraweeh", Muslims administered duas (prayers and appeals, - note of the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent) for the slain Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan Waliullah Yakupov, Mukhammad Rakhimov, the head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims (SAM) of the Stavropol Territory, has reported. ~ 47 ~

"We also ask the Almighty for the prompt recovery of our brother - the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov," Mukhammad Rakhimov told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. According to his, "the murder of religious leaders, who have devoted themselves to education and spiritual revival of the Tatar people, is a despicable attempt to kindle up religious hatred, sow confusion and chaos in one of the most stable regions of Russia." The religious activities in the month of Ramadan in the Rostov Region also began with prayers for the Deputy Mufti of Tatarstan, who was shot dead on July 19 in Kazan.

Five held for attacks in Tatarstan


STEVE GUTTERMAN and ALISSA DE CARBONNEL, Reuters The Gazette (Montreal) | July 21, 2012 Russian authorities said they detained five suspects on Friday over attacks that wounded the top Islamic official in the mostly Muslim Tatarstan region, killed his deputy and raised fears of the spread of militancy to Russia's heartland. The federal Investigative Committee suggested the attacks, in an area previously held up as a model of religious tolerance, were provoked by disputes over faith and money. Tatarstan's mufti, Ildis Faizov, was hospitalized after three powerful blasts hit his car in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, on Thursday. A little earlier, deputy mufti Valiulla Yakupov was shot dead outside his home. The attacks evoked the deadly violence that plagues mainly Muslim regions of the North Caucasus, where Russian forces have fought rebels in two devastating wars since the 1991 Soviet collapse where militants want to carve out an Islamic state.

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Insurgents in the Caucasus sometimes target mainstream Muslim leaders backed by the authorities. The attacks in Tatarstan, on the Volga River east of Moscow and far from the Caucasus, suggested similar tensions may be deepening there. But oil-producing Tatarstan, which enjoys a higher degree of autonomy from Moscow than most other regions and is home to a majority ethnic Tatar population, is relatively peaceful. Its historic capital, Kazan, on the Volga River, has been chosen as the host city for the World University Games next year. "Investigators believe the main motive was the professional activity of the victims, including their ideological differences with opponents," investigators said in a statement. Faizov had taken "a tough position toward organizations that preach radical forms of Islam," it said. "In addition, he took control of the movement of financial resources of the organization IdealHadzh , which sent Muslims to Mecca, and on this basis a conflict occurred between the mufti and the leader of this organization, which threatened him." It said the chairman of Ideal-Hadzh, Rustem Gataullin, 57, was among the detained suspects, along with the leader of a Muslim place of worship, Murat Galleyev, an Uzbek citizen and two other residents of Tatarstan. The suspects would be held as the investigation continued, the Investigative Committee said. President Vladimir Putin, who has emphasized the need for religious tolerance and unity in a mainly Orthodox Christian country with a large Muslim majority, promising on Thursday that the culprits would found and punished. "It is a serious signal," Putin said of the attacks, carried out hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began at sundown on Thursday. Corruption and suspicions of vote fraud - the problems that stoked the biggest street protests of Putin's 12-year rule in recent months - are helping fuel the spread of conservative Islam in Russia's Muslim regions. Many young people are attracted to Salafism, a puritanical branch of Islam. Analysts say Faizov, elected as mufti in April 2011, has mounted a crackdown on non-traditional clerics, some of whom are natives of the North Caucasus, and local authorities believe some clerics are spreading extremist ideology. Dozens of alleged members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Party of Liberation), a group banned in Russia since 2003 but allowed to operate in the United States and most European Union countries, have been arrested in recent years. Tatarstan's president, Rustam Minnikhanov, vowed late on Thursday to stamp out extremism in the region. "I promise that the toughest measures will be taken," he said on the region's website.

Analyst skeptical about theory that attacks on Tatarstan Muslim leaders motivated by business
2012-07-21 16:43:00 Moscow, July 21, Interfax - It is unlikely that the Thursday assassination attempt on Tatarstan Mufti Ildus Faizov and the killing of his former deputy and head of the Tatarstan Muslim Board educational department Valiulla Yakupov have anything to do with business interests, says Alexey Grishin, a former senior presidential advisor on domestic policy, who supervised relations with

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Islamic organizations. "I cannot rule out anything. The investigation knows better, and I hope it will properly solve it. But I think it would be too easy now to pursue a commercial dispute theory. This would be somewhat too simplistic," Grishin, who currently heads the Religion and Society news and analysis center, told Interfax-Religion commenting on Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin's remark that the attempt on Faizov's life could have been due to his financial control over the IdelHajj organization that provided tours to Mecca for Muslims. After Faizov was elected Tatarstan's chief mufti, "he put the Idel-Hajj organization's financial flows under control," which led to his "conflict with the organization's leader, who threatened Faizov," Markin told Interfax earlier on Friday. Idel-Hajj head Rustem Gataullin has been detained among three people suspected of playing some role in the attack on Faizov, he said. Grishin said to this that "the problem has existed for a long time, and both Yakupov and Faizov have received numerous threats from extremists." "Uncompromising combat against extremism started with Faizov's appearance. I'd rather attribute the attack and the murder to this. Extremist forces are so trying to demonstrate their strength and ability to affect the situation. And the date of the crimes has been chosen with a reason - the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. Such coincidences are rare," he said. A series of terrorist attacks has been committed in the run-up to Ramadan in various parts of the world, and they might be related to each other, Grishin said. "Extremists all over the world wish to show that they are more in control of the situation than the governments," he said. Grishin reiterated that he is inclined to believe that the attacks on Yakupov and Faizov were because of their steps "to purge the clergy of non-traditional religious leaders, and this is the most probable theory." He also pointed out that extremists are seeking to seize key positions in the Islamic education field, while Yakupov was responsible for education in the Tatarstan Muslim Board.

Sixth man suspected of involvement in attacks on Tatarstan clerics detained


2012-07-23 10:23:00 Kazan, July 23, Interfax - One more suspect has been detained in an investigation into an assassination attempt on the Tatarstan mufti Ildus Faizov and the murder of the head of the Tatarstan Muslim Board educational department Valiulla Yakupov. Marat Kudakayev, a former head of the Tatarstan Muslim Board department for relations with law enforcement and security agencies, has become the sixth man detained on suspicion of playing some role in these attacks, a member of the investigative team said at a Kazan court on Saturday. Valiulla Yakupov, 48, was shot and killed while leaving his home in Kazan at about 10:00 a.m. Moscow time on July 19. Mufti Ildus Faizov, 49, was injured when his car was blown up about one hour later. Investigators opened criminal cases on terrorism, murder, and assassination attempt charges, and ~ 50 ~

these cases were later combined into one. The investigation believes Faizov's and Yakupov's ideological disagreements with their opponents were the prime motive of the crimes. Faizov and Yakupov were known for their irreconcilable attitudes toward adherents to radical Islamic teachings. Five people were detained on suspicion of involvement in the attacks on Friday. They are Chairman of the Idel-Hajj company's board of directors Rustem Gataullin, head of the Vakf parish and Kazan resident Murat Galeyev, resident of the republic's Vysokaya Gora district Airat Shakirov, resident of the republic's Laishevo district Azat Gainutdinov, and Uzbek citizen Abdunazim Ataboyev.

Attacked Russian mufti's key opponent now in UK, not answering calls
Excerpt from report by corporate-owned Russian business channel RBK TV on 24 July The ideological opponent of Tatarstan's Mufti [Ildus] Fayzov [who survived an assassination attempt last week] has gone to London for a language course. According to an article in today's Izvestiya [pro-government daily], the imam of Kazan's Kul Sharif Mosque, Ramil Yunusov, a witness in the case on the attempted assassination of the mufti, has resigned and is not answering phone calls. The Investigations Committee plans to summon the imam for questioning. [Passage omitted.] Investigators have established that Yunusov, an adherent of Wahhabism, had a dispute with Fayzov over the Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan - both wanted to become its imam. According to Izvestiya's information, the mufti was forced to yield to Yunusov, after Yunusov's supporters threatened to stir unrest. [Passage omitted to end] Source: RBK TV, Moscow, in Russian 0800 gmt 24 Jul 12

Mufti of Tatarstan wounded in terrorist act leaves hospital


ITAR-TASS | July 24, 2012 Tuesday Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov wounded in a terrorist act has been discharged from the hospital on Tuesday; the press service of the spiritual administration of the Muslims of Tatarstan reported that the Mufti's health has improved. The car of the Mufti of Tatarstan, Ildus Khazrat Faizov, who heads the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Tatarstan, was exploded in Kazan on Thursday morning. Earlier on Thursday Valiulla Yakupov, who was the Mufti's deputy and headed the educational department of the Moslem administration, was shot dead in the entrance to his house. Six empty cartridge shells were found on the murder scene.The republican Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass on Thursday that the mufti's car was exploded and the mufti seriously wounded in the incident was rushed to a hospital. As a result of the investigation into the double terrorist act a number of suspects have been detained. The suspects taken into custody include Head of a local Moslem parish Murat Galeyev, the 26- year- old Abdunozim Ataboyev - a citizen of Uzbekistan, Airat Shakirov -a resident of the Visokogorny district, Marat Kudakayev - former head of the Muslim spiritual department for relations with power structures, and other suspects. On Monday the Kazan Vakhitovsky district court ordered arrest of the 30- year-old Rustam Kashapov, a local resident who worked for a food processing plant based in Kazan. ~ 51 ~

The suspects detained for involvement in the attempt on the Mufti's life include Artyom Kalashovthe 25- year-old Tatarstan's champion in weightlifting, and several other local residents.

Tatarstan risks following Dagestan's steps pundit


Political analyst Ruslan Kurbanov has said that the 19 July attacks on Muslim clerics in Kazan, which left one prominent mufti dead and another in serious condition, is a sign that Tatarstan "risks following in the footsteps of Dagestan" in which "much blood was spilled" before peace could be achieved, Regnum news agency reported on 24 July. Kurbanov, the head of the Expert Council of the Russian Federation Public Chamber's working group for the Caucasus, noted that until recently, Tatarstan was considered "the most peaceful Muslim province of Russia". But the recent events in Kazan are a "blow to the image of the republic", as well as a blow to Russia's image as a state "capable of ensuring interethnic, interreligious peace", Kurbanov opined. "Tatarstan risks following in the footsteps of Dagestan in 1999 - though at least there, the leaders of the Muslim community, in the end, sat down at the negotiating table. But how much blood had to be spilled until that happened! Must Tatarstan follow the same path?" said Kurbanov. According to Kurbanov, the problem lies in Russia's policy towards its Muslim community at the provincial level. Kurbanov said that at the provincial level, supervision of religion was the responsibility of local officials who were "guided by irrational fears and who neither want nor are able to have normal interactions, to work towards the future, to work with youth and Islamic leaders". Kurbanov also speculated that "the best solution to this situation would be a fundamental change in interactions with the Muslim community at the provincial level. They should be supervised by more knowledgeable experts who can deal with interreligious peace with greater sensitivity." Source: Regnum news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0957gmt 24 Jul 12

Attack on Tatarstan mufti no commercial dispute


AUTHOR: By Yuliya Latynina PUBDATE: 24 July 2012 (The Moscow Times.com) - Tatarstan's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov, was the victim of a murder attempt last week when his car was blown up in the middle of the day. Minutes earlier, his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot at point-blank range. Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee's spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said the attacks resulted from a business dispute. Faizov and Rustyom Gataullin, a man who'd been fired from the Idel-Hajj company, had argued over a "cash flow" problem, Markin said. Markin should be ashamed about making such a statement. At Yakupov's funeral, people were searched with metal detectors because rumours had run rampant in Kazan that bombs had been planted there. The person who shot Yakupov was a Wahhabi. Yakupov had no relation to finances whatsoever, and although Faizov had fired the supposed attacker from Idel-Hajj, he did so for the same reason when he tried to send the imam of the largest mosque in Kazan into retirement. In that case, 100 bearded men swarmed Kazan in a show of support for Yunusov, and the administration gave in. Incidentally, as far as I understand, it was one of Faizov's suspected

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attackers -Airat Shakirov, also known as Sheik Omar -who organized that show of support by the bearded men. Mr Markin, aren't you ashamed? In September 2009, in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Bostanov Ismail, the deputy head of the local spiritual administration board, was shot with a machine gun. In December 2010, Mufti Kabardy Pshikhachev was shot at point-blank range outside his home. In October, Sheik Sirazhutdin Khurigsky was shot dead in his courtyard in the village of Hurik, and in February the deputy mufti of the Stavropol region, Kurman Ismailov, was blown up in his car In Ingushetia, in June 2009, 85-year-old Abdurakhman Kartoyev, an ardent opponent of the Wahhabis, was kidnapped and killed. A month before that, Said-Ibrahim Kalimatov was killed, and a month before that, so was Musa Esmurziyev, an alim and healer. Imam Basir Salakhgereyev and Imam Mohammed Saypulayev were both killed in Dagestan in 2010 and 2011, respectively. In June 2011, the dean of the Institute of Theology and International Relations and an uncompromising opponent of Wahhabism, Maksud Sadikov, was shot at pointblank range, along with his nephew, Musayev. In 2006, after the murder of Abubakir Kurbizhev, the deputy chairman of the spiritual administration board of the Stavropol region and AKarachayevo-ACherkessia, police found a hit list of Muslim clerics and Wahhabism opponents in the killers' car, which they deliberately left behind. Kurbizhev and other victims were already crossed off the list. Mr Markin, is that a financial squabble too? A systematic campaign of terror against representatives of the traditional Islamic clergy gets almost no media coverage, but this campaign provides a clear illustration of just who the aggressors and victims are in this war between traditional and "pure" Islam. Whatever the case, I haven't heard of a single instance in which a traditional imam picked up an automatic weapon and killed a Wahhabi. In the end, the Russian state and the traditional Islamic clergy have become allies in a war declared by Wahhabis. They blow up innocent people in subways for being "kafirs," or infidels, and they kill traditional imams for being "monafiques," or hypocrites. So doesn't it seem to you, Mr Markin, that by citing "commercial disputes" in these killings, you are spitting in the face of our dead allies? Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio. Source: Moscow Times website, Moscow, in English 24 Jul 12

Tatarstan Muftis Main Opponent Resigns, Goes to London


Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, July 24, 2012 MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Ramil Yunusov, the imam of Europes largest mosque the Qolsharif Mosque, located in the capital of Tatarstan, has resigned as deputy director of the Kazan Kremlin museum and left Russia, reportedly for London. He is considered the main opponent of the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov, who has been recently attacked. According to a source in the Kazan Kremlin museum, which includes the Qolsharif Mosque, Yunusov submitted his resignation late last week, but it is unclear if Zilya Valeyeva, the museums director, has accepted it. Immediately afterward, Yunusov left the country, reportedly for London. His mobile phone has long been out of range, said Rishat Khamidullin, official spokesman of the Muslim Board of Tatarstan. ~ 53 ~

He said Yunusovs sudden departure could hinder the investigation into the attacks on Mufti Ildus Faizov and his former deputy Valiulla Yakupov on July 19. Yakupov was shot dead in the entrance hall of his apartment block and Faizov was lucky to escape alive when his car was blown up. Yunusov is a witness in the latter case. According to Tatarstans Investigative Committee, they have no reasons to restrain Yunusovs freedom of movement. We will question him as a witness in the case, but otherwise he is a free man and can travel abroad, said committee spokesman Eduard Abdullin. Yunusovs colleagues at the museum said the trip to London had been planned long ago. He was planning to improve his English at courses that last from four to eight months, said Ramil Khairutdinov, first deputy director of the Kazan Kremlin. Yunusovs departure attracted attention because he is one of the main ideological opponents of Mufti Faizov. The last time they clashed was in spring 2012, when the Qolsharif Mosque was turned over to the Muslim spiritual authority and Faizov planned to become its imam, citing the Charter of the Muslim Board of Tatarstan. But several hundred of Yunusovs supporters threatened to riot, forcing the mufti to revoke his order. Experts also say that Yunusov advocated non-traditional forms of Islam. He was educated in Medina in Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism is the official religion. Yunusov was a Wahhabi, Farid Salman, chairman of the Council of Ulemas of the Russian Association of Islamic Accord, told Izvestia. Yunusov was also supported by Airat Shakirov, also known as Sheikh Umar, one of those arrested as a suspect in the double assassination attempt case. In spring Sheikh Umar brought groups of people to the Qolsharif Mosque to threaten Ildus Faizov with unrest and force him to leave Yunusov alone, Farid Salman said. As of July 23, the investigators have detained six people suspected of involvement in the attacks on the top spiritual leaders of Tatarstan. They are Marat Kudakayev, formerly responsible for lawenforcement at the Muslim Board of Tatarstan; Rustem Gataullin, chairman of the board of directors of hajj operator Idel Hajj; Murat Galleyev, head of the Waqf parish; and their presumed accomplices Airat Shakirov, Aizat Gainutdinov and Uzbek national Abdunozim Ataboyev.

Police accused of unlawfully detaining up to 600 Muslims in Russia's Tatarstan


Kazan, 25 July: The Azatlyk Union of Tatar Youth (STM) and the leaders and the congregation of the Al-Ikhlas mosque in Kazan intend to stage a picket and a rally against what they see as unlawful mass detentions of Muslims in connection with the investigation into the attack on the leadership of the republic's DUM [Spiritual Administration of Muslims]. A spokesman for the city hall told the Interfax-Volga agency that the picket had been announced for 29 July, and a rally for 600 people, for 5 August. "The events have not yet been agreed," the spokesman for the city hall added. Nail Nabiullin, head of Azatlyk and a graduate of a higher education institution in Kazan, explained to the agency that the participants wanted to voice their protest against, and utter disaffection with, the mass detentions and searches of Muslims in the republic. "Law-enforcement bodies must stop their heavy-handed work. The grab-all-and-sundry principle creates even more mistrust of the police among the population. The investigation should be carried out more thoroughly, and the senseless searches at Muslims' homes must stop," he said. ~ 54 ~

He said many had been detained unlawfully, and so the protesters would demand their release. According to Nabiullin's figures, about 160 searches have been carried out in the republic since the day of the attack (19 July - Interfax), and 400-600 Muslims have been detained. Nabiullin also said that STM activists were currently receiving threats with demands that the organization fold its operation, otherwise, as one such message on the personal page of an STM leader in a social network said, "they will all be exterminated like rats". If the authorities refuse to give a go-ahead for the rally, to which he is convinced many people will come, Azatlyk will still express its view by staging a "popular gathering" or a "walk", following the example of the opposition [in Moscow], he said. The car of 49-year-old mufti Ildus Fayzov, Tatarstan DUM chairman, was blown up in Kazan on 19 July; he was injured. An hour earlier, the chief of the DUM's educational section, 48-year-old Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead inside the front door of his house. Criminal proceedings have been instituted under the articles of the Russian Criminal Code on terrorism, murder and attempted murder. Investigators believe the main motive for the crime was the victims' professional activities, including their ideological differences with their opponents. According to official figures, six suspects in the case have been arrested for two months, several people have had to sign a written undertaking not to leave, while several dozen people in the republic have been detained to check them for possible involvement in the attacks. Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1536 gmt 25 Jul 12

Shaimiev: Our People Love and Cherish Our Traditional Islam


The Kazan Herald | 25 July 2012 This interview with Mintimer Shaimiev on the attack on the Chief Mufti of Tatarstan and his deputy, translated from Russian by Maxim Edwards, was originally published on 23 June on Interfax as Nashim Lyudyam Nravitsa Traditsionalniy Islam, I Oni Im Darozhyat.

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Mintimer Shaimiev, the terrorist attack against the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov, who miraculously survived, and murder of his Deputy Valiulla Yakupov has been seen in many reports and articles as having had a financial motivation. They point out that the Muftis office had important financial and commercial responsibilities, such as the Muftis overseeing arrangements for the Hajj pilgrimage and his deputys overseeing the production of Halal products. How do you feel about this line of reasoning? Its true that there was some recent controversy about the way the Hajj pilgrimage had been administrated and organized by the Idel-Hajj company. The debate provided a lot of material for the media and a lot of conversation among those preparing to go on the Hajj. The problem of certifying Halal products was and never could have been solved by the legislature. Given that these problems are well-known and matters of public debate, it is difficult to imagine that these are the reasons for taking a life. Of course, the investigation by our law enforcement agencies will take these ideas seriously. At the same time, we are concerned about possible ideological motives. Valiulla Yakupov was one of the best-educated Muslim leaders in our Republic, which earned him respect from outside of Tatarstan. He published and wrote books, dedicated a great deal of time to education, and most importantly was a consistent and uncompromising fighter for our own traditional, liberal Islam, defending it against the radical ideology which is simply not acceptable to our people. Some attempts to introduce the latter were made by Imams trained in a number of Islamic states. From the day he took office, Mufti Faizov took a clear and unambiguous position on this issue, on the conservation of our traditional Islam. Tests for Imams were held in the mosques, and those who did not pass them simply had to change jobs and leave their position. These Muftis who tried to implant dangerous and alien approaches to Islam among our people were intransigent and unwavering in their ideology, yet caused little real danger or irritation. The Muslims of Tatarstan and the Volga Region are adherents of the Hanafi Islamic school of thought. Rooted in our tradition of Islam is a respect and tolerance for members of other traditional religions and nationalities. Accordingly, the republics leadership defends these traditional and tolerant values. The problems that do exist certainly lie in the fact that we simply do not have enough locally educated Imams who adhere to our traditional Islam. This is also a problem typical of other regions of Russia, where the Muslim population has grown quickly and outpaced the rate at which new religious leaders can be trained. If at the beginning of perestroika there were only 23 active mosques in Tatarstan, there are now 1400, and consequently, a lack of trained people who can lead such a large community. Usually, the problems start in small religious groups nobody would call for extremist solutions to religious problems from the balcony of a minaret. Some Imams, for example, impose their own traditional standards of behavior on their communities which people are not accustomed to such as how to keep their hands in prayer, refusing to exhume the dead after three days and thereby leaving other customs which will replace more traditional ones in Tatar Islam which our ancestors kept for centuries. People must understand that a large majority of Muslims do not have a very strong link to Islam, and need to act to preserve our traditions. The situation with the youth can change this, by instilling Tatar religious values in our children from an early age, teaching them the basics of worship. There are often disputes of general concern. Once, we had to deny a license to operate to the Yoldyz Madrassa in Naberezhnye Chelny, after religious teachers from other countries preached their values to our youth, in some cases even recruiting them to their radical Islam. As a result, some of these religious students ended up in training camps in Chechnya with the notorious warlord Khattab. After our intervention, these foreign teachers were expelled and order was brought to the madrassas. The governments decision in this regard was entirely supported by the faithful. On the eve of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Kazan, attempts were made by extremists to sabotage the festivities, though their attempts were promptly stopped by our law enforcement agencies. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and harmony, which has deep roots in our republic, is haunted by destabilizing forces who are trying in every way they can to undermine the situation, ~ 56 ~

to spread intolerance and hostility. Our commitment to preserve and enhance the impact of our traditional Islam will not be stopped by these forces. We must confront this problem, with the benefit of mutual understanding and tolerance. After the attack, a lot began to be said about how many mosques in our republic have become havens for immigrants from the North Caucasus with a very dubious past. Is this true? I would not say that Islamic extremists from Chechnya and Dagestan have found refuge here. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are attempts to undermine traditional Islam, not just in the Caucasus but also in the Volga-Ural region. The number of believers in the last ten years in the country has increased many times, which brings with it a few problems. Organized religion needs to adapt to this reality. Two years ago, we introduced a new holiday, the day of the formal acceptance of Islam as the state religion by the Volga Bolgars. A building was constructed in Bolgar to house the largest printed Koran in the world. An important event this year was the completion and opening of the White Mosque complex in Bolgar, a complex which provides training to Imams and religious leaders. Historical monuments are being restored in Bolgar, which attract every year pilgrims and tourists not just from Russia but from also from abroad. This year on 10 June, 50,000 people attended the pilgrimage to Bolgar. President Vladimir Putin gave an absolutely clear assessment of these events. We simply cannot allow the situation to destabilize, and we must be vigilant and be proactive in our struggle. So, can we therefore expect a crackdown on religious extremism in Tatarstan? Not as such. But we will be more alert and more vigilant against extremism, without encroaching on the rights of the Muslim faithful to worship freely. Our people love and cherish our traditional Islam and have the constitutional right to worship. But the leadership of the Republic will help to stop any attempts to implant a dangerous ideology that threatens our traditional, tolerant Islam. If we hold back by even a little, if we allow even a partial defeat to our Hanafi school of thought by this extremism, then the consequences would be unimaginable, not only for Tatarstan but also for the whole Volga region. We understand the importance of this issue, and therefore all necessary measures will be taken to counter radicalism. The republic in this issue takes a tough stance, as stated by President Minnikhanov. This position is supported not only by Tatarstans Muslims but also by the whole population of the republic. Tatarstan will not allow attempts to undermine our democratic, peaceful, and tolerant republic to succeed. Together, we will ensure the preservation of traditional Islam, and we should not be scared of whoever was responsible for this attack. We will find them, and we will do so in a civilized and legal manner, not as some kind of witch hunt. This is for our lives, our peace, and for our further success in our native land.

Following Mufti Attacks, Tatar Officials Seek To Control Narrative


By Alsu Kurmasheva, Robert Coalson Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty July 25, 2012

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Less than a week after two separate terrorist attacks injured the top government-backed Islamic cleric in Tatarstan and killed his former deputy, the republic's government is trying to put a lid on growing tensions. Amid fears that the brazen daylight attacks in the normally peaceful republic are a sign of growing Islamist radicalization, the government on July 24 issued a "recommendation" that media quote only seven approved experts on all questions about "Islamic life in the republic."

The presidential administration said the purpose of the instruction was to avoid public statements by Islamic figures whose opinions differ from those of the official Tatarstan Muslim Spiritual Directorate (DUM). DUM official Rishat Khamidullin was quoted by "Kazan Week" as saying the directorate and the government drew up the list together and that the men on the list would have to coordinate their comments to the media with the DUM in advance. However, Dzhalil Fazliyev, the DUM's head of legal affairs and one of the people on the official list of commentators, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that the government urged the seven men on the list to make themselves available to journalists and to speak without restriction. The presidential administration could not be reached for comment. Most representatives of official media in Tatarstan declined to comment on this story. A manager with the Tatarstan-Yang Gasir television channel who asked that her name not be used confirmed her network had received the list and would follow the recommendation. 'Act Like We Don't See Anything' Rashit Akhmetov, editor in chief of the nonstate "Zvezda povolzhya," told RFE/RL that the government's order is a "near hysterical" bureaucratic response to the terrorist attacks. "This is an old, Soviet-style, bureaucratic reaction -- 'Let's shut everything down, shut everyone up, and act like we don't see anything or hear anything and that will mean that it doesn't exist," Akhmetov says. ~ 58 ~

He says the government typically treats such matters as if the problem were mainly "incorrect information." Akhmetov expects only the state-controlled media -- primarily television and radio -- to obey the recommendation, and so thinks it is bound to be ineffective or even counterproductive. "After all, there is the Internet," he says. "In reality, an enormous part of the information sphere here is on the Internet. So I think this is simply an inadequate reaction by the bureaucracy to this horrible terrorist act." Harbingers Of Fear Kazan Mufti Ildus Faizov suffered two broken legs and other injuries in a car-bomb attack on July 19 in the Tatarstan capital, Kazan. An hour earlier, a close associate and former deputy mufti, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead in another part of the city. All the people on the list are leaders of major, official Islamic institutions, including the republican and Kazan-level spiritual directorates and the main mosque in the capital. One day after the attacks, police arrested an Uzbek citizen and four Tatars in connection with the attacks. Dozens of others were detained and questioned, in many cases because of their stances against the pro-government clerics. Officials say the attacks might have been connected to Faizov's control over cash flows related to sending Muslims on the annual hajj to Mecca. Others fear that Faizov and Yakupov were targeted for their pro-Kremlin, anti-Wahhabi positions and that the attacks could be harbingers that the violent Islamist insurgency that has simmered in Russia's North Caucasus for many years could be spreading north. Immediately following the attacks, President Vladimir Putin said the incidents sent "a serious signal" to the Tatarstan authorities.

Russia: the jihad spreads north. Terror comes to Tatarstan


By Elizabeth Kendal Religious Liberty Monitoring Wednesday, July 25, 2012 On 19 July, the day before the start of Ramadan, two senior Muslim clerics known for their efforts to halt the spread of Salafi Islam in Russia's Tatarstan province, became victims of targeted terror attacks. Tatarstan's chief mufti, Ildus Faizov (49), only narrowly escaped death. He had unbuckled his seatbelt and was exiting his Toyota Land Cruiser to make a phone call in the capital, Kazan, when three massive bombs attached to his vehicle exploded. Faizov was thrown clear while the car, which was ripped to shreds, was engulfed in flames. The bombing came just half an hour after Faizov's deputy, Valiulla Yakupov (48), was assassinated. Yakupov, who was shot six times on the porch of his apartment block, managed to get to his car where his driver was waiting for him, but died from chest wounds on the way to the hospital. Faizov was hospitalised with injuries mostly to his legs. He was released on 24 July in a stable condition to return to his home, which is now under police guard. Since becoming Tatarstan's chief mufti in 2011, Faizov has been cracking down on radical Islamists, dismissing ultraconservative preachers and banning textbooks from Saudi Arabia. He maintains that the main threat comes from followers of Salafism and Wahhabism which are increasingly being preached in some of the mosques in Tatarstan. "The Salafis and Wahhabis constitute a very ~ 59 ~

great danger," he told AFP last year. "There are no moderates among them. They all finish one day by taking up arms." As for Yakupov, the Kazan Week website recently listed Yakupov as Tatarstan's second most influential Muslim, calling him the "strategist behind Faizov's policy of rooting out religious extremism." Muslim-majority Tatarstan is home to some exquisite ancient mosques and boasts the world's largest Qur'an. As Daisy Sindelar notes in the Turkish Weekly (20 July), it has long been "a relatively peaceful, prosperous republic with a reputation for cultural diversity and religious tolerance". "No one has claimed responsibility for the dual assaults," writes Sindelar, "the first terrorist-style attacks in the republic. . . But the clerics' pro-Kremlin, anti-Wahhabi stance has stirred speculation that they may have been targeted by hard-line Islamists looking to break Moscow's grip on Russia's second-largest religion. "In a statement, Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee said it was exploring a number of motives behind the attacks, including the work of the Tatarstan Mufti's Office 'to counter the spread of radical religious ideas across the republic's territory'." Dozens of Muslims have reportedly been questioned and five suspects have been detained in connection with the attacks, which appear to be related to "ideological disagreements" and Faizov's business interests. Faizov has been criticised in local media for allegedly profiting from tours he organised for Muslim pilgrims and for trying to gain control of one of the oldest and largest mosques in Kazan, which receives hefty donations from thousands of believers. (Kuwait Times, 19 July) Moscow Times reports: "Working together, the Federal Security Service and police arrested the Muslim head of the Vakf parish, 39-year-old Kazan resident Murat Galeyev; 41-year-old Airat Shakirov, a resident of Tatarstan's Vysokogorsky district; Abdunozim Ataboyev, 26, an Uzbek native registered in Kazan; and a 36-year-old Kazan resident whose name was not disclosed. "The suspected mastermind of the attacks -- the board chairman of the Idel-Hajj company, 57year-old Rustem Gataullin -- was also detained. A Kazan court is scheduled to decide Monday whether to sanction his arrest. . . Gataullin also has links to radical Wahhabis, Kommersant reported." Kuwait Times notes that Salafi Islam has been spreading in the oil-rich Volga River province due to an influx of Muslim clerics from Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces of Russia's North Caucasus region. Chechen separatist leader, the Islamist Doku Umarov, reportedly issued a religious decree in 2011 calling on radical Islamists from the Caucasus to move to the Volga River region that includes Tatarstan. According to the Qatar Tribune, Umarov warned that his fighters were on a mission to "free the lands of our brothers" (i.e. to supposedly "liberate" Russian regions with large Muslim populations). The Qatar Tribune comments: "Around half of Tatarstans population is Muslim . . . In Kazan [the capital] few women wear headscarves and a huge mosque stands beside an Orthodox cathedral." (see, Kazan: where Europe meets Asia and The Beauty of Kazan) Pavel Salin, a political analyst at the Center for Political Assessments in Moscow, down played suggestions that Tatarstan, as a largely peaceful and compliant Russian republic, would be the target of a full-scale Kremlin crackdown. He agreed, however, that the Kazan terror attacks would be a "serious worry" for the Kremlin.

Tatar officials are powerless before Wahabis, republic turns into second Dagestan expert
2012-07-26 16:34:00

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Kazan, July 26, Interfax - Head of the Volga Region Center for Regional, Ethnical and Religious Research at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Rais Suleimanov is convinced that an attempt on Tatar mufti Ildus Faisov's life and assassination of his deputy Valiulla Yakupov were made by Wahabis. "The tragedy in Tatarstan is rooted in Wahabi ideology that stands for eliminating any dissents in Islam and accepts that only they are right. When Wahabis don't have any arguments to convince people they chose terror as a rapid way to take power in Muslim ummah," the expert said in his interview with the KazanWeek website. According to him, there are regional officials who misinform governmental authorities saying there is no Wahhabism in the region and even if there are some Wahabis they are controlled, however, it is not true. Suleimanov says that traditional Muslim clerics and experts always warned that Wahabi ideology had already grasped significant number of people and "not only ordinary parishioners, but spiritual leaders with high status, business circles and even bureaucracy, but no one paid attention to their words." "Tatarstan is gradually turning into something like Dagestan on the Volga. The events that took place in the North Caucasus 10-15 years ago are copied in the Volga Region. Ordinary muftis and muftis who support traditional Islamic trends were also shot there," the expert said.

Injured Muslim Leader Forgives His Bombers


By Alexander Winning The Moscow Times 27 July 2012 Tatarstan's top Islamic leader offered words of forgiveness and asked police to act objectively after attackers bombed his car and killed a colleague last week.

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"I forgive those who committed this wickedness. Allah will justly determine a fair punishment for what they have done," Mufti Ildus Faizov said, according to a statement on the republic's Spiritual Board of Muslims website. Faizov said people often act through ignorance and naivety. "In such cases, we should show mercy, be able to forgive," he said. The 49-year-old Muslim spiritual leader received multiple injuries, including two broken legs, after assailants detonated three car bombs in his SUV in Kazan on June 19, a day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Valiulla Yakupov, a prominent cleric who headed the Spiritual Board of Muslims' education department, died minutes earlier after being shot by unidentified gunmen outside his house in Kazan. President Vladimir Putin has promised that the perpetrators will be punished. Faizov described Yakupov as "one of the most important Muslim preachers in the country" and praised him for his work in rebuilding Kazan's Apanai mosque and writing religious publications. He also called on law enforcement officers to investigate the attacks objectively "without infringing on the rights of our brothers and sisters." Faizov's appeal comes as two Islamic organizations plan to demonstrate and rally on July 29 against what they see as the illegal detention of Muslims in connection with the attacks. Officially, police have arrested only six Tatarstan residents in connection with the attacks, but local organizations say hundreds of Muslims have been detained and are being questioned. Nail Nabiullin, head of the Al-Ikhlas mosque in Kazan, said police had detained 400 to 600 Muslims and conducted about 160 raids, Interfax reported. "Law enforcement structures should stop their hack job. The principle 'grab everyone in succession' is causing even greater distrust toward the police among the population," Nabiullin said. He added that even if authorities deny permission for the rally, people will take to the streets to express their discontent.

Custodial term of Uzbek suspect in attacks on Tatarstan spiritual leaders upheld


2012-07-27 11:49:00 Kazan, July 27, Interfax - The Supreme Court of Tatarstan has upheld a two-month custodial term handed down to Uzbek citizen Abdunazim Ataboyev, who is accused of being involved in the attacks on Tatarstan's spiritual Muslim leaders. The Vakhitovsky District Court of Kazan remanded Ataboyev in custody until September 20. The suspect and his lawyer had asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Kazan court's ruling dated July 21, an Interfax correspondent reported from the courtroom. Ataboyev's lawyer described the detention of the foreign citizen as groundless. "The fact that a man wears a beard is not a reason to detain him," the lawyer said. Ataboyev did not attend the court session.

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According to investigators, Ataboyev's car followed the car driven by Tatarstan Mufti Ildus Faizov shortly before the explosion, after which Ataboyev managed to escape. "His possible involvement in the crime is being investigated thoroughly," one of the investigators said. Ataboyev, 26, lives in Kazan together with his wife, two young children and other relatives. He works at different construction sites in the city, but plans to look for a job in neighboring Yelabuga. Ataboyev pleaded not guilty, saying that he did not come anywhere near the site of the attack that day. Several people were taken into custody following the attacks on Faizov and his deputy Valiulla Yakupov. Tatarstan's Supreme Court plans to hear appeals filed by four of them on Friday, and the other suspects on July 31. Tatarstan Mufti Faizov's car was blown up and his deputy Yakupov was shot dead outside his house in Kazan on July 19.

Analysis: Fight over Islam, money and power brings violence to Volga
By Thomas Grove KAZAN, Russia | Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:33am EDT (Reuters) - Not far from glitzy boulevards where an oil boom has sent up stadiums and high-rises overlooking the Volga River, women in headscarves wander through Islamic bookstores selling pamphlets on the institution of sharia in Russia. Kazan, capital of Russia's mainly-Muslim Tatarstan region, has long had an image as a showcase of religious tolerance. But that reputation was shattered last week by car bomb and shooting attacks carried out only hours before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. On the wall outside the bookshop, a flyer in the local Tatar language calls Muslims to unite against the region's top religious leader, Mufti Ildus Faizov, who was wounded in the attacks which also killed his deputy. "Things will only get worse here and Muslims will be the ones who suffer the most," said Anisa Karabayeva, 43, her face framed by a white hijab, or traditional headscarf. "Will there be more bombs? Probably," she says flatly, standing in front of a display case stocked with Korans and prayer rugs. The attacks came against a background of anger among many Muslims who complain that the authorities in Tatarstan are restricting Islam in the name of fighting radicalism. It is a dispute that also involves a struggle for money and influence in the increasingly prosperous oil-producing region. President Vladimir Putin, who started a new six-year term in May, has repeatedly called for national unity and religious concord in a predominantly Orthodox Christian nation with deeprooted ethnic minorities, many of them Muslim. For decades, Russia has endured violence in mostly Muslim provinces in the North Caucasus on its southern fringe, where tens of thousands of people were killed in two separatist wars in Chechnya after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and insurgents are still fighting to set up an Islamic state.

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But booming Tatarstan - 2000 km (1,200 miles) away from the war zones - had largely avoided unrest until now. Moderate Muslims in Tatarstan blame the violence on the arrival of radical groups, such as followers of Sunni Islam's strict Salafi movement and the outlawed organization Hizb ut-Tahrir which seeks an Islamic caliphate. Last week's attack resembles strikes against moderate muftis in places like the Caucasus region of Dagestan next door to Chechnya. Kazan is now on increased alert for more attacks. Outside of mosques, police rifle through the belongings and bags of the faithful, who line up in front of metal detectors. "Today Islam is growing strongly in Kazan... But there are different sects and movements that you simply cannot control," said Ramil Mingarayev, an imam at the al Marjani Mosque. "We try to fight radicals, we have tried to clean our city of them, but there are hidden mosques, where they gather and distribute forbidden literature, in basements and in the forests." Some of those fears arise from threats made by North Caucasus militants far away. Russia's most wanted man, Chechen Islamist guerrilla leader Doku Umarov, called for an uprising among Russia's Muslims last year, mentioning Tatarstan by name. "I want to appeal to the Muslim brothers who live on Russian-occupied Muslim land... I call on you to destroy the enemies of Allah wherever you are. I call on you to destroy them where your hand reaches and to open fronts of jihad," he said in a video posted on insurgency-affiliated website Kavkaz Centre. SELLING TOURS Since becoming head of the Tatarstan branch of the Russian state's Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in April last year, Faizov has been praised by Kremlin authorities for what they say are measures to clamp down on radical sentiment and encourage traditional forms of Islamic practice seen as more moderate. Religion is also a big business, which has made him enemies. Four months ago Faizov gave nearexclusive rights in Tatarstan to sell tours to Mecca for the annual haj pilgrimage to Tatar Business World, a company his office's web site says it controls. Many Muslims complained that the price went up. Rustem Gataullin, the chairman of the company that previously had rights to sell pilgrimage tours, was one of between 40 and 100 people who were detained in relation to last week's attacks, according to Interfax. "He had his enemies," said Gabid Hayruddinov, 73, who reads prayers for the Muslim faithful who come to him in search of help in the city's main mosque of Kul Sharif. "He promised to make the haj tours cheaper, but instead they became even more expensive: they went from 120,000 to 150,000 roubles ($4,600)," he said, his light blue eyes set deep against his dark wizened skin. Small protests against Faizov had bubbled throughout the year in Kazan, culminating with an open letter to him published in Russian and Tatar in various newspapers and on the Internet, calling for the price of haj tours to be cut. Faizov was unavailable to talk when Reuters called his office. His deputy was likewise unavailable as was another imam with strong ties to the directorate. A MORE JUST SOCIETY Beneath the 18th century al Marjani mosque a dark tunnel leads from the room for prayer to the Islamic school across the street. Five times a day the dozens of students make their way through the stone entrance, perform ablutions, pray and return.

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For those who experience Russia's failing social welfare programs and chronically corrupt court system and police force, stricter versions of Islam hold out the hope for a more just society. "It's good we have the authorities - without them there would be chaos," said Zakhid Anovarov, a burly 20-year-old student with a thin black beard. "But it's not a just system, because it's a man-made system. If we were governed by shariah, then life would be better, more just," he said of the Islamic law code. Many of the students are migrants from elsewhere in Russia or other former Soviet states to Kazan, where construction money has created new jobs, including sprucing up the city to hold the World University Games next year. Zarifa Kamilova came to Kazan in 2004 to escape the aftermath of the second Chechen War in her hometown of Grozny, where federal forces had toppled a separatist government. Like other Chechens in Kazan, she was drawn to its Muslim majority and the possibility to find work. But she says she fears pressure by the authorities will marginalize Muslims, leading more and more of them to radicalism. "I have already taken five books off my shelves this year because they were considered too radical," she said, referring to an ever-expanding list of literature outlawed by Russia's Justice Ministry. She and other Muslims say they have felt increasing pressure since Faizov assumed his post. "This alone is turning normal people into radicals. It's not that more people are becoming radical it's that their definition is encompassing more and more people," she said. She says she fears a government crackdown on Muslims that will ban more religious literature she would otherwise sell in her store, where everything from electronic Korans to prayer rugs to Chinese-made clocks with prayers on them is on offer. Referring to previous crackdowns on illegal groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, which thrives in Central Asia and has been brought to Russia by immigrants, she says she has never faced arrest. But: "I have learned one thing, never think it can't happen to you". Muslims in Kazan say Faizov also launched a bid to take over leadership at the Kul Sharif Mosque, a visual symbol of the renaissance of Islam in Kazan. Completed in 2005, it sits on the site of a medieval mosque destroyed in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible, who conquered the Kazan Khanate, a Tatar state ruled by descendents of Genghis Khan. TAKEN IN THE NIGHT In his battle with radical Islam, perhaps none of Faizov's efforts were as divisive as his demand that imams of all mosques undergo a course in traditional Hanafi Islam, the movement traditionally associated with Tatarstan. In December, angry Muslims stormed the main mosque in the town of Almetevsk, 270 km (170 miles) and for hours refused to let local religious authorities enter. The confrontation was eventually defused by Faizov, but resentment still burns. Near Almetevsk, in the village of Novoye Nadyrovo where roosters and chickens wander freely along gravel paths, authorities removed the local imam, Ilnar Kharisov, from his post a few months ago. Friends say he was detained on Friday night, the day after the explosions in Kazan. Kharisov, a young scholar who had studied abroad and taken the name Abdulmalik, still has a religious following in the village and his sacking as imam split the community. Neighbors say a former communist functionary has been placed in charge of the village mosque. They speak darkly of Kharisov's arrest. "They've taken all the good imams away and they've replaced them with clowns in their places, and they protect them there with police. People are very unhappy here," said a neighbor of Kharisov who gave his name only as Ramil. ($1 = 32.7652 Russian roubles) ~ 65 ~

(Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Peter Graff)

Muslims of Tatarstan hold picket against mass arrests following attack on muftis
Interfax | July 29, 2012 Around 100 people attended a picket in Kazan on Sunday, protesting against what they called mass arrests as part of an inquiry into an attack on a Tatarstan mufti and a murder of the head of the training department of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Tatarstan, an Interfax correspondent reported from the scene. The picket, which took place at the square in front of the Tatar Kamal State Theater, was permitted by the city authorities. It was organized by the Azatlyk (Freedom) Union of Tatar Youth, as well as by the senior clergy and parishioners of the Al-Ikhlas (Sincerity) mosque in Kazan. The protestors, mainly young men, were wearing skull caps, women were wearing hijabs (a Muslim veil which leaves only face and hands uncovered). Some came with their children. The protestors were holding flags of Tatarstan, flags with Islamic symbols and over 20 placards which read: "A faithful Muslim is against extremism and terrorism," "We shall not allow a second Caucasus," "Shapeshifters in epaulettes imitate fight against terrorism," "Minnikhanov, protect the Muslims," "We demand release of innocent Muslims." The people want to express their protest and extreme discontent with mass arrests and searches among the Muslims in Tatarstan, the Azatlyk leader told Interfax. "Law enforcement authorities must stop their axe job. The 'catchone-and-all' principle is causing even greater distrust towards police among the population. The investigation should be conducted more thoroughly, these pointless searches among Muslims should stop," he said. During the picket its participants unanimously adopted an open letter to Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, which says in particular that, according to the organizers, "between 400 and 600 people were arrested, 200 people had their homes searched, most of them at night. Religious books and computers were seized." This humiliates Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan, the authors said. "Innocent people and their families suffer," the letter said. Those arrested are held in poor conditions and have no possibility to observe uraza (the fasting during the month of Ramadan).

Banned Islamic group protests at arrests after attacks on Russia Muslim leaders
There has been a Muslim rally in Kazan, the main city of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, under the banners of the banned "extremist religious" organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, Interfax news agency reported on 30 July. Quoting Rais Suleymanov, described as an Islamic studies expert, the report said that around 100 people got together in the square in front of the Kamala Tatar State Theatre to protest at the "mass" arrests that followed the 19 July twin attacks on the region's Muslim leaders. Suleymanov said that it was first public protest by Hizb ut-Tahrir in Tatarstan. The protest was said to have been organized by the Union of Tatar Youth, or Azatlyk, and the "management and congregation" of Kazan's Al-Ikhlas mosque. The imam of the mosque, Rustem Safin, got a two-year suspended sentence in 2009 for his role in the organization of Hizb ut-Tahrir activities, said the report.

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Suleymanov also told Interfax that some of the banners held by protesters were of high quality, which he believed was a sign of "thorough preparations". In addition, all the protesters were given Hizb ut-Tahrir flags and were told that it "is the flag of the future caliphate". The rally also featured Tatarstan's "national separatists", - Suleymanov said - who, having lost their "protest base" in early 21 century, are now trying to regain popularity at the expense of the "most radical religious circles" and "Islamic fundamentalists". The latter are allegedly prepared to support separatists as long as their ideas carry Islamic messages. A "similar" rally has been scheduled for 5 August, Interfax said. On 19 July, Tatarstan's mufti, Ildus Fayzov, was injured in a car bombing and his deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was gunned down in what appeared to be coordinated attacks on the region's Muslim leaders in Kazan. Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0548 gmt 30 Jul 12

Seven in Custody After Attack in Kazan


The Kazan Herald | 30 July 2012 On the day of two seemingly related attacks which hospitalized Tatarstan Chief Mufti Ildus Faizov and killed his deputy Valiulla Yakupova, President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov expressed his certainty that the attacks were connected with their professional activities. This explanation, however, poses more questions than it answers. As the investigation unfolds, the number of possible motives for the 19 July attacks seems to increase rather than decrease. Some have argued that the attacks were the work of ideologues, terrorists influenced by the Wahabbi movement or Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Reuters Thomas Grove reported that Chechen Islamist guerrilla leader Doku Umarov mentioned Tatarstan amongst a list of Muslim regions within Russia in a call to arms last year. A different motive, however, would attribute the bombing and shooting to a power struggle over the hajj business. In his first year as Mufti of Tatarstan, Faizov changed tour providers for the Tatarstan Spiritual Administration of Muslims annual hajj, or pilgrimage to mecca. Until April of this year, Idel-Hajj had the rights to sell Tatarstans 2,000 tickets on the tour. Faizov switched to a different provider, one that is apparently controlled by the Spiritual Administration of Muslims. In the process, the price of the tour increased. Director of Idel-Hajj Rustem Gataullin was one of seven people officially detained for questioning. In an interview with RIA Novosti, first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev interpreted the attacks as a threat to Tatarstans Islamic tradition. The leadership of the Republic will help to stop any attempts to implant a dangerous ideology that threatens our traditional, tolerant Islam, Shaimiev said. We must confront this problem, with the benefit of mutual understanding and tolerance. Shaimiev argued that part of the problem was that the large increase in the number of Muslim believers since the fall of the Soviet Union could not be met by qualified locally-educated imams. As a result, new customs have, in some areas of the republic, replaced more traditional ones in Tatar Islam. Since becoming mufti, Faizov has been a vocal opponent of terrorism and radical Islam, implementing tests for imams to weed out those who did not practice what he saw as traditional Tatar Islam.

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This effort has been criticized by some elements as an affront on how they worship. In December, a group took control of a mosque in Almetevsk in protest of the centralization of Islamic faith in Tatarstan. Then in the spring, the youth group Azatlyk (meaning Freedom) were among those who protested when Faizov appointed a new imam for Kazans Kul Sharif Mosque. Just yesterday, another protest was held by the Azatlyk (Freedom) Union and members of Kazans Al-Ikhlas mosque, Interfax reported. Nearly 100 people gathered to speak out against what they call mass arrests in response to the attacks. Leader of the Tatar Youth group Azatlyk Nail Nabiullin declared that the police investigation had resulted in repression against Muslims. Azatlyk has written an open letter to Minnikhanov, in which it claims that hundreds of people have been detained by police and that religious property was seized from several homes, Interfax reports. Faizov was released from the hospital on 24 July.

Islamic action in Kazan held under Hizb ut-Tahrir banners for first time ever eyewitness
2012-07-30 13:17:00 Kazan, July 30, Interfax - The protest against the detention of numerous suspects in the attack on the Tatarstan mufti and the murder of the training division head of Tatarstan's Islamic Department, which took place in Kazan on Sunday, was held under the flags of the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist religious organization outlawed in Russia, Islamic affairs expert, protest eyewitness Rais Suleimanov told Interfax-Religion. About 100 people took part in the picket near the Kamal Tatarstan State Theater organized by the Azatlyk Union of Tatarstan Youngsters and the Al-Ihlas mosque administration and believers. The Tatarstan Islamic Department told Interfax that a two-year suspended sentence was passed on Al-Ihlas imam Rustem in 2009 for organizing Hizb ut-Tahrir activity. That was the first time Hizb ut-Tahrir members had taken part in a public protest, Suleimanov said. A similar protest has been planned in the same venue on Sunday, August 5. The car of Tatarstan mufti, Tatarstan Islamic Department Chairman Ildus Faizov, 49, was blasted on July 19, on the eve of the Muslim Holy Month Ramadan. He incurred injuries. An hour earlier Islamic Department training division head Valiulla Yakupov, 48, was shot dead on the stairs of his house. Both men were known for their firm rejection of radical Islamic trends. Official reports said seven suspects had been arrested and a few more pledged not to leave the town. Several dozens more were detained for verifying their possible involvement in the attacks. [END] Copyright RMSMCBlog 2012 http://rmsmcblog.wordpress.com/ In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. ~ 68 ~