Chechen official fired for daughter’s ties with Syrian rebels

Chechen official fired for daughter’s ties with Syrian rebels

For months, the Kremlin has sounded warnings that Russian-speaking Islamists were joining rebels in Syria. Now it seems to be confronted with defections from the families of some of its own officials.

The top immigration official in the predominantly Muslim southern Russian republic of Chechnya was fired after it was disclosed that his daughter had joined Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, officials confirmed Friday.

Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announced the firing on his Instagram account Thursday night, saying, “It’s no longer possible to trust” Asu Dudarkayev as the head of Chechnya’s regional migration service.

Mr. Dudarkayev was unavailable for comment Friday.

The Kremlin fears that Islamist rebels from Russia are gaining battle experience and jihadist contacts in Syria, and that they will one day return to Russia and stir up trouble. A number of Chechen rebels have already emerged as leaders among Syrian rebels because of their experience in fighting a standing army in Russia.

Mr. Kadyrov, an ethnic Chechen whose loyalty with President Vladimir Putin has helped the Kremlin crush rebels in Chechnya, said he had received reports that migration service employees were rude and were using bureaucratic hurdles to extract bribes from citizens.

But Mr. Kadyrov also noted that Mr. Dudurkayev’s daughter was “among Wahabbis and bandits who are spilling the blood of peaceful citizens and blowing up Islamic shrines in Syria.”

Mr. Kadyrov said the Chechen government had offered to help him retrieve his daughter, but that he had said he would resolve the issue on his own.

“[Mr. Dudarkayev's] daughter is still with the bandits,” Mr. Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram page.

Moscow has for years fought a simmering Islamist insurgency in its rugged North Caucasus region, and has lately stepped up pressure on rebel groups, fearing they may launch an attack on the Winter Olympic Games in the southern coastal city of Sochi next year.

Some of the pressure has been applied to family members of insurgents as well: In the southern province of Dagestan, security forces have taken to blowing up the homes of relatives of suspected rebels, and President Vladimir Putin earlier this month signed a law making families of terrorists financially accountable for damage of their attacks.ANN.Az

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