Militant Arab leader in Chechnya feared dead

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The Independent Online

Abu al-Waleed al-Ghamdi, the leader of Arab fighters in Chechnya, was killed in the rebel Russian region a few days ago, his brother said yesterday.

Abu al-Waleed al-Ghamdi, the leader of Arab fighters in Chechnya, was killed in the rebel Russian region a few days ago, his brother said yesterday.

Abu al-Waleed, born in Saudi Arabia, is said by the Kremlin to be among those behind February's bombing of the Moscow underground.

"My brother has been martyred," said Abdullah al-Saeed al-Ghamdi. "We don't have any details but we know he was killed recently. We received the news yesterday and now people are coming to congratulate us on his martyrdom."

A spokesman for Russia's state security service, Federal Security Service, declined to comment.

Russian news agencies said troops killed four Chechen rebels linked to the guerrilla leader Shamil Basayev in a shootout near the Chechen border. In the Chechen capital, Grozny, troops also killed a Wahhabi militant; Russian security services said he could be linked to a suicide bomb attack on Ingushetia's President Murat Zyazikov.

The Wahhabi creed is Saudi Arabia's mainstream Muslim sect. The insurgency in mainly Muslim Chechnya has attracted mujahedin, or holy fighters, from Arab countries, whose citizens fought against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

In March, the Arab television channel al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape it said was by Abu al-Waleed vowing to stage a new wave of attacks in Russia.

The Kremlin blames Chechen rebels for a spate of attacks including a suicide bombing on a train in southern Russia before December's parliamentary polls.

Islamist websites prominently featured news of Abu al-Waleed's death and some said he had been betrayed by companions while preparing to pray.

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