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Islamic State claims Russia’s Northern Caucasus as its province

The Islamic State has announced the creation of a new “wilayat,” or province, in Russia’s North Caucasus after several senior militants in the area pledged allegiance to ISIL, according to a report published by the think tank Institute for the Study of War.

The report cites a statement made by ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani on June 23, 2015. In the statement, Al-Adnani names Abu Mohammad al-Qadari as the leader of the group and congratulates “the soldiers of the Islamic State” in the Caucasus.

Adnani’s declaration followed the circulation of a Russian-language audio statement on Twitter on June 21, in which supporters of ISIL in the Russian regions of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia pledged allegiance to ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

ISIS’s statements and actions over the next few weeks will indicate whether the organization intends to launch operations through its new Caucasus affiliate, or whether it simply intends to use the pledge as an opportunity to assert its global vitality and reach.

Institute for the Study of War

The North Caucasus is the region located in northern part of the Caucasus mountain range, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The predominantly Muslim North Caucasus republics are part of the Russian Federation, and they include Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan.

ISIL proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in 2014 and spread to large territories of Syria and Iraq. The group is also active in Libya and gaining support in Afghanistan. Militants from Russia’s North Caucasus, as well as from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, have joined the Islamic State.

Russia has added ISIL to it’s list of terrorist organization.