Russian intelligence suspected in Chechen commander’s assassination in Turkey

Another Chechen former commander has been assassinated abroad and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is once again suspected of having carried out the assassination. This time it was Islam Dzhanibekov (Canibekof, in Turkish), who had lived in Istanbul, Turkey, since 2002. Dzhanibekov, who was killed on December 9, was reportedly shot from a close range with a single action 7.62 MSP pistol. This type of weapon has been traditionally favored by the KGB and its successor agencies since the early 1970s, mainly due to its small size and relatively silent operation. Dzhanibekov’s assassination comes three months after a similar operation against another Chechen former commander living in Istanbul, Gazhi Edilsultanov, who was also shot by a 7.62 MSP handgun. Dzhanibekov’s killing appears to be the latest in a long series of assassinations of exiled Chechen military leaders. In 2004, three Russian intelligence operatives were arrested in Qatar for the assassination of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, self-styled former president of the rebel Republic of Chechnya, who was living in the Gulf state. All three operatives, Aleksandr Fetisov, Anatoly Yablochkov and Vasily Pugachyov, were eventually returned to Russia, where they were probably given new identities prior to returning to work for the Russian intelligence services. The SVR, Russia’s foremost external intelligence organization, is the successor to the Soviet KGB’s First Chief Directorate (FCD). [IA]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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