Thursday, October 30, 2014

Global Impact: Ruthlessness of IS Militants Highlighted in Russian Newspaper

According to, a video-clip has been making the rounds on the Internet depicting Russian engineer Sergei Gorbunov, who was abducted while in Syria.

Based upon available information, Sergei was murdered by Georgian native Omar al-Shishani.

According to some reports, Gorbunov was shot and killed earlier in 2014, as early as the spring, when Islamist rebels dragged him out of his cell, shot him, filmed it, and showed it to other hostages as an intimidation message point.

The video of the shooting was only made public on October 27.

The New York Times reports that Gorbunov was executed because, in the words of the rebels, he was “the least marketable commodity.” In other words, the rebels would not have been able to secure an enhanced ransom for him from the Russian government.

COMMENT: Needless to say, The NYT piece, was very instructional for a handful of other captives who were later released.

In October 2013, the rebels released a video of a person who called himself Gorbunov, a Russian citizen. In the video, the engineer reads out a text asking the Russian and Syrian authorities to use the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to exchange him for Saudi citizen Khaled Suleiman, who had been detained by the Syrian authorities in the central city of Hama.

In an account that first appeared in the newspaper, VZLGLYAD, an extremist group calling itself the Muhajireen Brigade took responsibility for Gorbunov’s abduction.

The visibly frightened man, who looked to be between 40 and 50 years old, stammered throughout his reading of the message, during which he said that he was a Russian engineer who was kidnapped at the airport near Hama after arriving in Syria for work. Damascus did not comment on the video. 

“I am being treated well and given food. But if they don’t exchange me for Khaled Suleiman from Saudi Arabia within five days, they will slaughter me. I am addressing the presidents of Syria, Russia, the Red Cross…I’m very afraid,” Gorbunov is quoted as saying in the video.

The rebels previously uploaded a photograph of another Russian hostage--a traveler from the Siberian city of Tomsk named Konstantin Zhuravlev, who was kidnapped on October 12, 2013. 

Zhuravlev was hitchhiking to the Eastern Sahara, where he planned to participate in a seven-day meditation course. He was last heard from near the Syrian city of Aleppo; there has been no news of him in the last year. The filmed executions of several foreign hostages, including US journalist James Foley, have appeared online in recent months.

The Muhajireen Brigade, an ally of IS, kidnapped the Russians. The group, made up of rebels from various countries in the Islamic world, is notorious for its extreme cruelty. Its members are primarily active around Aleppo, where the Syrian Army is currently involved in heavy fighting with rebels.

The group mostly constitutes Chechens, Tatars and Turks. They were once part of IS but later withdrew from it,” Mahmoud Hamza, a member of the Committee to Support the Syrian Revolution (the moderate Syrian opposition), told VZGLYAD.

 “If he was in their hands, he was definitely sentenced to death beforehand. The biggest scum fight in that group,” he added.

Georgy Mirsky, a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told VZGLYAD that Gorbunov’s death was anticipated.

“Now that two Americans and a Briton have been beheaded, no one in the world should remain under any illusion as to what kind of people these are. These are bandits and mercenaries who want to follow the precepts of Osama bin Laden. They want a battle in order to create a caliphate, as they are saying themselves, from Andalusia to Tatarstan. They are absolutely ruthless,” he told the Russian newspaper.

“I talked to someone 15 years ago who studied their ideology. He explained that even Russians are enemies to the Islamists, because in the Caucasus they go against people who fight under the slogan “Allahu Akbar.”

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