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THE IRAQI JIHAD: The Jordanian-Chechen Connection

Paper No. 848                                 28.11.2003


by B.Raman

(To be read in continuation of my earlier article titled "Iraq: Can the US Turn the Jihadi Tide?" at )


As the frequency and ferocity of the suicide bombings by foreign jihadis in Iraq has increased, there has been a decline in the frequency and ferocity of similar bombings in Chechnya.

2. Usually well-informed religious sources in Pakistan say that it is due to the fact that under the instructions of Osama bin Laden's  International Islamic Front (IIF), whose activities are now co-ordinated by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), many foreign jihadis operating in Chechnya, including some Jordanians and Saudis of Chechen origin and six  members of Pakistan's Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), have proceeded to Jordan from where they are co-ordinating the activities of the jihadis in Iraq.

3. They also say that Saudi Arabia and Jordan ---and not Syria and Iran--- are emerging as the rear bases for the Iraqi jihad and warn of a destabilisation drive in Jordan shortly similar to the ones in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  The jihadis want to teach a lesson to the Jordanian Government for its perceived support to the USA and Israel and for training the police officers of the US-UK  occupation regime in Iraq.

4. According to them, most of  the Chechen members of the IIF, who had earlier taken shelter in the Waziristan area of Pakistan, have also  since gravitated towards Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq, leaving their Pakistani wives and children back in Waziristan.  They are being taken care of by the LET and the Taliban.

5. Jordan has an estimated Chechen population of about 15,000, practically all of them Jordanian nationals.  Many of them serve in the Government, including in the  Armed Forces, the intelligence agencies and the palace guards.

6. In the past, the Chechen community had remained very loyal to the royal family and won its trust and confidence. Before 1999, some non-governmental organisations in the community had expressed moral support to the Chechens in Russia fighting for independence, collected funds and sent them to the Chechen groups in Russia, which had taken to violence.  This was tolerated by the Jordanian Government.

7. From 1999, the Russian Government started alleging that foreign jihadi terrorists, including some holding Jordanian, Saudi and Pakistani nationalities, had arrived in Chechnya and were helping the local terrorists.  Incidents of suicide terrorism in Chechnya increased after the arrival of these foreign jihadis. Moscow also alleged that the contingent of foreign jihadis was led by Ibn al-Khatiab (since reported dead), a Jordanian national.

8. Following this, the Jordanian authorities strongly advised the people of Chechen origin living in their territory against extending any support---moral or material--to the Chechen terrorists. They were also worried that the Jordanian nationals fighting against the Russian troops might later return to Jordan and turn against the royal family.  There is now a danger of these fears proving true.

9. Meanwhile, the LET and other Pakistani jihadi organisations set up a number of fund collection camps all over Pakistan at the end of the fasting period to collect funds for supporting the jihad in India's Jammu & Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq and for looking after the families of the jihadis who have martyred themselves at these places.  The need to defeat the US in Afghanistan and Iraq was the major theme of the speeches to mark Id on November 26, 2003.

10. Addressing a large Id congregation (150,000) at Lahore, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of the LET, which now calls itself the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, said:  "We will continue jihad without any fear or pressure and will not stop it on the asking of anybody.  Jihad is inevitable for the glory of Islam. The jihad process is continuing in Kashmir, Bosnia, Palestine and Iraq. Jihad has made Jews and Christians worried. They call jihad terrorism."

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Convenor, Advisory Committee, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter. E-Mail: )