No known aliases
Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB)
Riyad us-Saliheyn Martyrs' Brigade
Deceased July 11, 2006
Shamil Basayev was born in the Chechen village of Dishne-Vedeno in 1965. Serving in the Soviet Air Force until 1991, he returned to Chechnya after the province unilaterally declared independence. Like the 19th century Imam Shamil, whom he was named for, Basayev hoped to battle Russian influence in the Caucuses region, including in Abkhazia and Dagestan. Basayeve was killed in July 2006 by Russian security forces.
Although now known as an Islamic terrorist, sources close to Basayev describe him as a man who adopted fundamentalist Islam simply as a reason to exercise his long-time love of fighting. Some analysts believe that his continued adherence to fundamentalist Islam was a way of ensuring funding from the Islamist movement in the Middle East and that he had moved among the different regions of the Caucuses because of a loss of popular support in Chechnya. Despite these allegations, Basayev claimed that he has never received money from Osama bin Laden.
The first terrorist attack attributed to Basayev was 1991 hijacking of a Russian passenger plane to Turkey, but his notoriety began in earnest in 1994 with the Russian invasion of Chechnya and the subsequent war. After this invasion Basayev met Ibn al-Khattab, who became the prime conduit of finance between Chechnya and radical Islamists from the Persian Gulf region. His popularity reached a peak in 1996 with the retreat of Russian soldiers from Chechnya and he even briefly served as Prime Minister of Chechnya. Basayev was also responsible for planning and executing many of Russia’s high profile terrorist attacks, including the 1995 Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis, the 2002 Moscow theater siege, the 2004 Beslan school siege, and the 2005 assassination of Russian-backed Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov. Although claims that Basayev’s group possesses a nuclear weapon have been denied by authorities in Moscow, he was named “Public Enemy #1” in Russia in the 1990s.
Basayev, the most wanted terrorist by the Russian government, was killed on July 11, 2006 during a special operation in the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia. However, Russian officials acknowledge that while his death is a major setback for Chechen resistance, continuing terrorist operations in the North Caucasus will remain a serious threat to regional stability.