Muslims in Russia are mourning the death of a prominent spiritual leader, sheikh Said Afandi. He was killed in a terrorist attack carried out in Dagestan on Tuesday, August 28, 2012
A female suicide bomber, who is closer to being identified, entered his house posing as a pilgrim and blew herself up. A Muslin theologian and another six people, who attended a sermon in the house, were fatally injured. Russia’s Council of Muftis has expressed sincere condolence to the loved ones of the dead leader. An investigation into the terrorist attack is now underway.
From her damaged fragments of the body, the special services believe the bomber to be a 30-year-old resident of Makhachkala Aminat Kurbanova. The Interior Ministry also believes that she was the wife of a member of an underground terrorist group. It says that the capacity of the explosive was equivalent to about 1,500 grams of TNT. The bomb was filled with balls bearings. Police think that sheikh Afandi’s religious activity could be one of the motives for his assassination.
The death of the prominent religious leader while giving a sermon plays into the hands of people who are trying to destabilize the situation, says Damirkhazrat Gizatullin, deputy chairman of the Spiritual Department of Muslims in European Russia.
“This is linked to the religious leaders of Russia who are actively doing what they can. They have reached a high level of knowledge of Islamic teaching. Consequently, their sermons attract many people. They are the followers of moderate Islam who preach peace and consent among people and love for the motherland, but some people do not like them. As a result, attacks on religious leaders as well as terrorist attacks have increased,” Damirkhazrat Gizatullin said.
The suicide bomber launched the attack in the house of sheikh Said Afandi at a time when President Vladimir Putin handed out awards to the Mufti of Tatarstan Ildus Faizov, who was injured in an attack in his car, and the family of the former deputy mufti of the republic, Valiulla Yakupov, who was shot dead by a gunman. It’s no mere chance that the two incidents coincided, says chairman of Russia’s Islamic Committee Geidar Dzhemal. The terrorist attacks that shocked Kazan in July and were targeted at Islamic religious leaders, were linked to Tuesday’s suicide attack in Dagestan, he says.
“Religious leaders, their life and fate are the most sensitive point for the people and the religious community. As a result, they are like a special banner. The defamation of the national emblem and anthem has always been a provocation and challenge for a collective and nation. Consequently, such an attack could always trigger a response,” Geidar Dzhemal said.
Traditional Islam faithful have recently been subjected to attacks more than once in the republics of North Caucasus. In November of 2010, an imam of one of the mosques in the city of Khasavyurt Basir Salakhgerev was shot dead. A month later, chairman of the Spiritual Department of Moslems in Kabardino-Balkaria Anasa Pshikhaev was killed in Nalchik. Last year, Imam Magomed Saipulaev, and deputy mufti of the Stavropol region Kurman Ismailov were killed. Experts insist that spiritual leaders who criticize radical Islamists, bandits and separatists are falling victims to terrorist attacks.