The Russians are probing our defences and positions more aggressively. As I finished writing the earlier sentence I heard on the radio that two brothers from my contingent in Abu Jafar's Group were killed yesterday. Both were truly excellent brothers with whom I lived and fought with in ***. Abu Ubaidah (Yemen), one of the Yemeni brothers (in my opinion the most enjoyable company amongst the Arabs) and a good friend of mine, and Abul Abbas (Kuwait)- another sincere and really good brother- May Allah have Mercy on them. Whenever a friend is killed, his memory stays on your mind constantly for several days. Abu Ubaidah will be no different.
We finally retrieved the body of Chechen Mujahid Shamil Gergebil and three other Mujahideen who had lain on Mount Waleed for over 3 weeks. Masha'allah their bodies were in excellent condition; one of the brothers (Mohammed Derghin) was almost as if he was still alive (his eyes were open & skin fresh)! The contrast with the Russians bodies who were killed in the same operation is all too stark. Some of the Russians in the days (3+ weeks ago now) following the same operation were already decomposing (in the snow). One had his face eaten by crows whilst their commanding officer had an empty sack where his brain had been!
All the brothers from our Unit have arrived back from Grozny. There was the long winter march to the mountains during which some minor losses were sustained and a column of ** Mujahideen (that's up to 6km in length) was split into two. The larger column was nearby and took four days to get to the meeting point. Given how tough this march was for us who were fully fit and rested at the beginning, you can then imagine how impossible the journey must have been for Mujahideen who had just fought their way through 40-50km of Russian held territory. The second column was constantly harried by Russian aircraft and posts (Khalil Ibrahim (Turkey) injured during the withdrawal from Grozny died from further injury and exhaustion). Brothers fell asleep at the shortest stops and some brothers with sticks hit those asleep on the path to prod them onwards. Despite this a few went to sleep and died in the snow unknown to the rest. Some wandered off the path and were not seen again. A group of three Chechens who have since been found described how they wondered for miles in the mountains until they couldn't move due to hunger and exhaustion. Then, Alhamdullilah, they heard movement in the snow and saw a wild pig. They, without delay shot, cooked and ate it. (Allah allows you to eat haraam when you have nothing else to eat, in fact it becomes obligatory upon you to eat that food if you may die without it) This allowed them to go onwards until they stumbled onto a Mujahideen post. There many other and more heroic tales of individual hardship and suffering this that will be never be known.
Two leading commanders were killed (Aslambeg & Khunkapash). Field Commander Ismail (who wore a patch over one eye) was killed during the last week in Grozny. Typically (Abu *** related the story to me), he died fighting to the end against impossible odds defending his companions. The Russians had entered a multi-storey school building in Grozny centre and Ismail went with ten brothers to flush them out. Ismael had told some Mujahideen (from another group) to hold an adjacent bridge to prevent Russian reinforcements from arriving. After close quarters fighting they took the ground floor and isolated the Russians on the floors above. He then started to shout at them from the stairs to surrender. This went on for some time but unknown to him the group which was suppose to hold the bridge had withdrawn without informing him. Predictably, whilst Ismail was occupied inside the building, several hundred Russians came over the bridge to surround the school. The ten brothers were then subjected to intense firing from above and from the outside. Ismail was one of the first to be injured but he continued to fight and direct the brothers. Apparently, a grenade was then thrown near them at which point Ismail jumped onto a nearby brother to protect him from the blast! He suffered serious shrapnel injuries (all over his back) and was shaheed (martyred) soon afterwards. The brothers continued to fight until Mujahideen reinforcements fought their way through the siege and made a passage for the brothers to get out. The fighting was of course intense throughout and the movements of the Mujahideen rapid. Of the ten brothers in the building, five got out alive with the remaining five shaheed left inside the building (now with the Russians). Ismail was one of Khattab's oldest, most trusted and most formidable Chechen Commanders. He was one of the original handful of fighters who fought against the Russians in the very first operation of the First War (defence of Grozny in December 1994). A tall well built brother, he was one of the brothers in whom you can detect no pride- always smiling, friendly and welcoming to all whether he knew them or not.
Another very good friend was Saeed Mohammed from Ctari-Atagi (a town in Chechnya). Saeed was a section commander under Commander Abu Dharr and he was also killed in action during the last week in Grozny. I have just learnt that another friend, Badruddin, was killed during the very early skirmishes against the advancing Russians. Khalil Ibrahim (Turkey) has also been Shaheed. He, like several others, died during the hard march South of injuries sustained in Grozny.
Alhamdullilah it was a blessing to have known these brothers as they were outstanding even amongst this elite group of Mujahideen. It seems to me that some of the best brothers are the first to be Shaheed (martyred). They are Shaheed but you feel sad that you will no longer have their company (there are few blessings better than good company and these brothers were amongst the best). However the strange thing is that they do not seem dead but more like people you knew who have gone away for a while and whom, at the back of your mind, you expect to see again!
The Russians are really pushing hard. All unanimously agree that this War is far more intense and completely different in nature from the last war. They are moving systematically to encircle the Mujahideen and trying to prevent freedom of movement. In the indiscriminate (like animals they are bombing every village and vehicle regardless of whether it is civilian or Mujahid) bombardment and the Special Forces descents onto mountain peaks, they are trying to retain the initiative after Grozny by bringing the war to us. The bombardment (Grads, Aircraft, Artillery) has reached a new intensity with the bombs being used now being up to several tonnes in weight. Aircraft bombed a field next to us yesterday some 100m away that shook the whole house and left massive craters. We also saw the aircraft swoop very low (maybe 150m) and drop two shrapnel bombs- two cannisters which come floating down with parachutes and explode some metres above ground level.
Two days ago, I was snoozing in a *** (parked in ***) outside a *** when we were woken to the roar of rockets exploding along the side of a ***. We decided to move to a safer location and on the way saw two Mujahideen (Group Arbi Barayev) who had been right in the middle of the blitz and were martyred immediately- I won't describe the injuries. Yesterday while I was getting water, artillery started pounding my vicinity. During the night we were subjected to a blitz of rockets and artillery rocking the house. All this is nothing unusual and does not even deserve mentioning to the brothers here- it should however convey what the Mujahideen (and remaining Chechen population) are undergoing. The scream of aircraft swooping overhead (they've already fired by the time you hear them- and if you have been directly targeted then you will hear nothing as the rockets reach you before the sound!). The roar of Grads and the pounding of artillery can test even the strongest of nerves. The room falls silent and everyone mutters a quick dua! If you are in the middle of the targeted area, there are no warning sounds- just boom! [Note by Azzam Publications: Once the Prophet (SAWS) was asked, "Is the Mujahid tested in his grave?" He (SAWS) answered."The waving of swords above his head is a sufficient test for him!", meaning that one who goes through all this bombardment for Allah has proven his Iman in Allah, so there is no longer a need to ask him theoretical questions about his Iman.]
The civilians are completely exhausted and sick of the war. The ones who have remained behind have nowhere else to go or cannot afford to. A dozen or so of them are killed every day. There are many human rights abuses going on: shrapnel bombs, fuel bombs, in addition to everything else they are using completely indiscriminately. It's so obvious that the West is part of this war. Look at the way they treat, threaten, impose sanctions for years to make Muslims suffer (Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc.) at the slightest excuse (women's rights, democracy, alleged terrorism) but completely turn a blind eye when it suits them or lift token sanctions as soon as they can (see Israel and Serbia). When a bomb (allegedly Chechen but really Russian) goes off in Moscow, they call it terrorism, but when a massive (Christian) army bombs a tiny country to bits deliberately targeting Muslims settlements and people, raping and looting (we caught three Russian soldiers looting in *** the other day) for good measure, they've nothing more than blithe meaningless comments to make. Whilst at the same time giving aid of every sort and name! They don't even make an effort to hide this, and why should they given the pathetic & craven Muslim (so-called) leaders we have like King Fahd who has issued a Royal Decree banning dua for the Mujahideen in the mosques of Saudi Arabia.
Columns of hundreds of armoured vehicles have been seen arriving at the front at *** and as I've mentioned above, the skirmishes are increasing in number and intensity. All the signs are there of an imminent all out offensive to conclude this campaign before the elections and the coming of spring. This war is basically the Mujahideen again the whole world. The Russians are getting support (open and covert) of every kind from the West and the Jews. The military tactics they are using are obviously formulated with outside assistance to try to crush the tiny number of Mujahideen in Chechnya, which they will never do insha-Allah until the Earth is made wet with the blood of every single Mujahid in Chechnya.
Alhamdullilah the Mujahideen place their trust in the Power of Allah and that more than suffices against the strange world we live in.
Four days on...
The Russians are moving fast and bombing furiously. The usual are aircraft swooping over the countryside looking for any moving vehicles or activity before bombing the least damaged buildings. Grads, tank & howitzer artillery, fuel bombs (awesome damage), shrapnel bombs etc. However yesterday morning just after Fajr (Dawn) in ***, I heard the drone of heavy high altitude propeller aircraft. I thought it was just the usual flight of reconnaissance aircraft (there are up to several each hour). After perhaps a minute, the *** we were in was rocked as high pay load bombs started to explode throughout *** (really no larger than a big ***). This the first time I have seen this sort of carpet bombing (experience similar to Grads) although they frequently subjected Grozny to this. Everyone muttered the usual duas expecting the walls to implode at any moment. Alhamdullilah, Allah protected us. There are civilian casualties and fatalities everyday as the Russians try to build up the momentum.
Russians are also making heli-descents on the high peaks. Yesterday we all saw a large descent on a high ridge overlooking the entire *** Valley. Alhamdullilah, elsewhere they stuck their necks out a bit too far and the brothers destroyed a helicopter with its occupants as it was landing near a village *** several miles south of ***. The peaks around *** have undergone several infantry attacks which Alhamdullilah have been repulsed.
In addition to Abu Ubaidah (Yemen) and Abul-Abbas (Kuwait), I have learnt since that Abu Mujahid (one of the Junior Chechen commanders under Abu Jafar Al-Yemeni) and Jauwhar Al-Mongoli were killed. Nearby, the next day a Russian aircraft rocketed a *** in which a small contingent of Abu Jafar's group were sleeping killing Khallad Al-Madani (Madinah) and injuring another brother (this now means that out of 7-8 of us who use to share a room in ***, four have have been killed). Of course there are Shaheed I do not manage to see or know.
Having said all of that, Alhamdullilah morale is good and brothers are looking forward to the operations that are inevitable. The weather has become noticeably milder, the scenery is fabulous although there is still snow around and no foliage cover. Insha-Allah by the end of March the winter will be truly behind us and the summer not far off. However the intervening time is sure to be interesting so make dua that all goes well. Insha-Allah the news will be good.