Dear Dokku Umarov, I Also Have Questions
As previously noted, on Friday April 13th, Kavkaz Center posted what they claimed to be a new video of Dokku Umarov, self-proclaimed leader of the Caucasus Emirate. The video was titled “Dokku Umarov Answers Questions”. And for 20 minutes that is exactly what Umarov does. He reads a question, and then he answers it. He reads another question, and he answers it. Umarov gives no indication of where he got the questions he claims are from “Caucasian journalists”, but they have been written out on a piece of paper that he reads from.
The video itself is reminiscent of previous videos submitted by the Caucasus Emirate. Umarov is shown sitting on a rug in a room with no natural light. On the wall behind him is black flag of the Caucasus Emirate, and a green wall peaking out from behind that. Umarov himself is wearing all black. However, unlike previous videos, the distracting background noise in this one was kept to a minimum, with only one other person coughing in the background a few times throughout the video that lasts 20 minutes.
Umarov again denies that there is a split in the leadership of the Caucasus Emirate, saying that it is all just rumours and gossip. However, he does not present Gakayev and Vadalov as proof, so it is difficult to determine if there is actually any truth in his claims.
The most emotion that Umarov shows in the video is when he is discussing the price the Americans have placed on his head under the Rewards for Justice program. In fact, he appears very smug about the fact that he is worth $5 million to the Americans, and mentions it repeatedly. While this is not a lot of money (for comparison, Ayman al-Zawahiri is worth $25 million, and Mullah Omar is worth $10 million under the same program), it is enough to make Umarov self-satisfied about his position as a leader in the worldwide Islamic jihad.
I am not convinced that the video is entirely legitimate. While the man in the video is almost certainly Dokku Umarov, I have a hard time believing that the video was taken last month. There are several odd choppy cuts at the end, and Umarov never mentions the alleged assassination attempt on Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin, or gives any proof that the video was taken in March 2012. In addition, the topics that he chooses to discuss are somewhat dated. The Americans placed Umarov on the Rewards For Justice list in May 2011. The split with Gakayev & Vadalov was allegedly resolved last July. That being said, Umarov does not say anything that would indicate the opposite either.
In the end, there was very little new information offered in the video. The video is called “Umarov answers questions” but, quite frankly, I still have questions. Why does he not mention Gakayev & Vadalov by name? Why doesn’t he mention Vladimir Putin’s reelection? Why doesn’t he mention the Russian opposition? Is the moratorium on civilian targets over now that Vladimir Putin has been reelected? These are just some of the questions I would like Dokku Umarov to answer. Maybe he will take the time to answer them in his next video.