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kayima Dagestan … relief after desperation by Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri

Dagestan … relief after desperation

The picture of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri on the fake Sudanese passport he used to enter Russia in 1996

My first personal approach to the Islamic Caucasus

My first personal approach to Islamic Chechnya was through a staid person that my family knew, whose name was "Bakir Bek", I had known him in a house of one of some of my relatives, then he became a friend to my father, he used to invite him on occasions like Ramadan iftar. Bakir Bek was from the Islamic Caucasus, but I don't know from where? I didn't have a detailed idea at that time about the Islamic Caucasus, and Bakir Bek was from the mujahedeen who fought the Russians in the Caucasus, then he fled to Turkey during WWI, he used to tell us about his shock when he saw the Christian forces, occupy capital of the khilafate, then he migrated to Egypt, and settled there, and worked in a number of jobs, the last one was in the trade of silver jewelry. Bakir Bek was solemn and dignified, his hair has gone grey, with a big stucco mustache, prude of himself, he had a big body Stalwart, speaks fluent Arabic, but with an accent similar to the accent of the Egyptized Turks. Despite he was between 70 – 80 years old he used to challenge us, we the youth, with his high strength.

Sometimes he used to come visit my relatives with his special Caucasian outfit, and he was never bored from speaking about the tragedy of the Islamic Caucasus and the jihad of the Muslims against the Russians Tsars then the Communists, and perhaps he distributed some booklets about the persecution of the Muslims of the Caucasus. Sometimes he used to sing the Nabawi praising nasheeds – peace and blessings be on him – with his strong voice, then he would stand with his special Caucasian outfit, and draw his dagger, and dance, and cheer: La Ilah Ila Allah, La Ilah Ila Allah.

He used to live in a small apartment in Alataba Square over the Zi- AlOqoud Market, which was known as "Bawaki Alataba", and I remember that I once visited him in that apartment, he pointed to the window overlooking the Square, and said:

"A day will come, and Islam will triumph, and I'll put a machine gun on this window, and aim at the kuffar, and and yell: La Ilah Ila Allah".

The reason that my family knew Bakir Bek, her friendship with the AlaAmrousy Bek family, AlaAmrousy Bek was a staid person working in the Egyptian embassy in Saudi Arabia, in the time when my grandfather (my mother father) – the Alama Abdulwahab Azzam – an ambassador to Egypt, and in Medina AlaAmrousy Bek married from one of the granddaughters of Imam Shamil, and she was called Zubaida Haneem, and that’s why Zubaida Haneem became a friend to my grandmother and aunt, and Zubaida Haneem was a staid woman very proud with the history of her ancestors and their culture, and used talk very much about them, and through AlaAmrousy Bek and Zubaida Haneem, my family knew Bakir Bek, who despite of his staid and prestige, used to act as an obedient follower to Zubaida Haneem.

In his late age Bakir Bek traveled to Turkey where he reunited with his family after long parting, then he died – to Allah`s mercy – before he saw the collapse of the USSR and the independence of Chechnya.

I used to remember Bakir Bek very much, during my imprisonment in Dagestan, and I imagine that he must have come to the Caucasus, and participated in the battles of Chechnya against Russia, we ask Allah to be merciful on this mujahidin muhajir (immigrant) and all Muslims. (I wish who reads this book to send me information about Bakir Bek, even through the internet, and also I wish who know his family to send them my greetings).


{Or, Who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and Who relieves its suffering, and makes you (mankind) inheritors of the earth? (Can there be another) god besides God? Little it is that ye heed!} Sura Alnaml 62

In Spring of 1996 a new wave of chasing the Arab mujahedeen planneded by America and implemented by the regimes that are surrendered to it. Sheikh Osama bin Laden – may Allah preserve him – was forced to migrate to Afghanistan through a journey full of dangers, but we chose to try to travel through the land perhaps we might find an opportunity to find a proper place to manage the work, taking advantage what Allah has favored us with expertise in disguise and travel.

With the advent of the Fall 1996 we found that this movement disadvantages is more than its benefits, and we will only be able to benefit the Jihadi movement if we moved to a secure base for the mujahedeen, where we can work from it with freedom and security, and we can benefit ourselves and our brothers.

And we found in front of us only Afghanistan or Chechnya. Regarding Afghanistan we lacked about information about what was going in it, and we were concerned because of the civil war going there, our fear was to find ourselves involved in that war against our will. Or we would be attacked by a party involved with the Americans or Pakistanis, especially that Burhan Aldeen Rabbani expressed his desire in handing over whom he called terrorists when he visited Egypt, despite he who was in need of protection, but it was a contest in offering services to get the satisfaction and benefits from the new master of the world.

We decided to travel to Chechnya. The road passed through Dagestan which we entered by smuggling, and on the way we were arrested in Derbent in Dagestan (it is called in Mujam Abuldan "Bab Alabwab", we found in it's grave yard 40 graves, they say it's for 40 of the Sahaba – may Allah be pleased with them – they are blessed by drinking water from the head of the grave, and we have visited those graves in our way back after we were released from prison) , because we didn't carry a visa to enter Russia which considers Dagestan part of it. The police transferred us to the ministry of intelligence, which transferred us to the border guard, and in a few hours we found ourselves in the prison of the camp of the command of the border guard in Dagestan in the grip of the Russian army.

The investigation began with us about our entry to the territory of the Russian federation without visa, and they didn't find with us anything that makes them suspect in our relation to the mujahedeen, and we had two problems: the first was legal crime, which was entering the country without visa, and the second was the most dangerous, which was being discovered who we were, and what could that lead to.

So we decided to bear the lower of the two evils, and incarnate the personality of traders who were deceived, and entered the country without visa in exchange of an amount of money. And that we own a trading company, and we have come to Dagestan in search of an opportunity for trade. And indeed we told the investigators details of our journey with some changes, we mentions true information about the way we took, so the investigators were convinced with our story, and registered against us a criminal case, then they decided to transfer us to the central prison in the capital Makhachkala, and the police began with us a legal investigation where we repeated the same story, then we were summoned to the ministry of intelligence in the capital, and investigated with each one individually, so we repeated the same story, and the investigators were convinced with the simplicity of our case, which is only a case of entering the country without visa. And transferred our papers to the Judiciary, where we stayed until the issue of the verdict for four and a half months.

And during this period we passed by signs from Allah' preservation, kindness, and concealment which we are unable to thank Him (Verily my Lord understandeth best the mysteries of all that He planneth to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom) Sura Yusuf 100

The six months that we spent in the prison in Dagestan used to very much provoke my thought and reflections, even that one of the brothers reminded me asking about why I many times mentioned its events, I answered him that's because the many lessons I got from it.

Reflections from the prison

{He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison} Sura Yusuf 100

{O my Lord! For that Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace on me, never shall I be a help to those who sin} Sura Al Qasas 17

As I have mentioned we were arrested in the city of Derbent, and we were transferred to the command of the border guard in Dagestan, where they opened for us a formal accusation file, they started a legal investigation with us, and they charged us with entering the territory of the Russian Federation without a visa.

This was my first contact with the Russian army from the inside, and it was very painful to me to see officers with Islamic names, when they were investigating with us, because seeing the truth with your own eyes is not like hearing of it. This assured me that the most dangerous of our enemies are the local puppets and the supporters of falsehood and it's soldiers, who carry our names and speak our contents, they are the canine, claw, the walking foot, and tyrannical hand, which our enemies use to crush us, either they were officers in the Russian army or Egyptian state security intelligence.

I used to think very much about the conditions of the nations crushed by the Russians, and how they corrupted their religion, life, Aqeeda, and social system, and they came out a mutilated disfigure, eager to Islam, that bow under the heavy Russian oppression. I understood that the whole region passes through a stage chaos, search of identity and destiny, that why I was – and still – understand the greatness of the Chechen jihad, which brought life to the Islamic Caucasus from between the ruble.

The prison was very miserable, it was a cargo container turned to two cells, we were an odd thing in the camp, they used to look at us like enemies, but there was some sympathy especially from the Muslim officers, who were careful to show that they don't have any enmity for someone because of his religion, but in the end we were there enemies. This stage was not without attributesofDivine mercy, most of the detained with us were very sympathetic, which most of their cases was of simple smuggling cases from inhabitants of the border regions. They gave us good legal advices, some of them tried to mediate between us and the officer in charge of the department of investigation, to solve our case with briery, that we give him the amount of money that was with us, in exchange he would only expel us from the country, we expressed agreement to the deal, but our case Amplified, and was mentioned by the capital Television in the news, and was transferred to the ministry of security.

At that period we were concerned to call the detainees to pray with us, and teach them some of the small Suras, we had discovered that many of them were Muslims just by the name, they even couldn't read the Fatiha properly.

We began to that unknown world which we didn't know it's content, nor it's customs, and practically nothing about it. And except the sympathy of detained with us, we with the administration of the camp – as Tariq bin Ziyad said to his soldiers:"such as orphans at the banquet of the Villains".

We discovered that many goods are offered for sale, the Russian soldiers used to ask us: do you have Dollars, do you want alcohol, do you want cigarettes? Which they used to sell many of them to other detainees, and once one of us suffered from severe cramps, so the doctor officer came, with a nurse soldier, and gave the an injection to patient, during this the detainees bought sedativesandtranquilizers from the nurse with the utmost simplicity.

We were transferred to the capital Makhachkala, and entered the central prison, we were treated as ordinary detainees, and this – despite the misery that we were in – pleased and reassured me. I was pleased that the case was developing as a criminal one with ordinary Procedures – even if it was in misery – away from the security side. Thus we found ourselves in the sea of the underworld of Dagestan with thieves, murderers, and fraudsters!

We entered the new detainees section, which called in Russian "Kranteen", which is similar to the "Aleyrad" in the Egyptian prisons. It had a number of cells; they took us to last one. We found it was a rectangular room its length is about ten meters, and width five. On the left of the entering person a wooden bench, which about one meter above the earth, the garbage used to pile under it, and the rats had fun under it. It stretches along the room, and its width is about two meters. It's a group bed for the inmates, who were about 15 inmates, who welcomed us in a friendly manner, and they became more generous to us when they knew that we were Arabs, and because bench was full our place was in the last, which was a miserable place, we were near the big window of the room, which broken glass, threw us the bitter cold of the December winter of Dagestan. We had only s shawl of wool, all of us used as a bed, and a blanket Condescend tous by prisoners, which we used as a cover.

In the corner of the room was a faucetandbasin, and near them was the toilet which had an incomplete fence, its height was about one meter, the prisoners completed covering it with threads and plastic bags, and it was not real toilet, it was an opening in the sewers pipe stretching from the upper floor, and you had to jump fast outside from the toilet if you heard the water flowing from the toilet of the upper floor, or you would be socked with water pouring on you which had everything you hated.

With the exception of these conditions the atmosphere was very friendly and joyful. The prisoners didn't hesitate to offer us what they can from their food from bread, tea, and butter, which no one will know its value only if it was forced to eat the food of the prison in this cold.

When the time of prayer came, we did the Azaan and Eqama for the prayer, and we began to call the prisoners to pray, and some of them answered, and the rest apologized with different excuses, but they were friendly and sympathetic.

We discovered the prison communication network. The prisoners in the whole prison linked with each other, and immediately they distributed the news of the arrival of Arabs to the prison.

The next day the prisoners told me in a content – most of it signs – that in the upper floor there is a Russian prisoner used to work in a bank, and he knows English, and I could send him a letter explaining to him our story, and indeed I wrote to him a letter that we are traders who entered without a visa, so I got from him a legal advice it summary, that our case is easy, but we should do two things, the first is to call our embassies, and the second not to speak about our case to any one, because the prison is full of Intelligence agents.

We continued for a few days in this refrigerator cell, in this friendly sympathetic atmosphere. The prisoners asked us to write to them Adeyas (verbal prayers), so we wrote it for them in Arabic, and they write it in Russian – as they were pronounced – without them knowing its meanings.

Then one day they got us out, and took us to a room in the prison, and pictured us from the front and sides, and took our finger prints, then they send us back, and we thought that we could not do anything, and I told the brothers, that we are foreigners, at most they will send our photos and finger prints to the international police (Interpol), and they will discover me, because the international police have my photo and finger prints, and I said: we have to appeal and pray, our reasons have ended, and we have only the Lord of the reasons.

{Or, Who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and Who relieves its suffering, and makes you (mankind) inheritors of the earth? (Can there be another) god besides God? Little it is that ye heed!} Sura Alnaml 62

This was a practical lesson for us in reliance on Allah, which showed us the illusion of the power of everything which a below It, here is Russia the great power, which people shiver from just mentioning the name of its intelligence, which claims it counts the breath of the creation, and which killed many of its opponents in the West, we stayed in the bottom of its prison for six months, and it didn't know anything about us. {And God hath full power and control over His affairs; but most among mankind know it not} Sura Yosof 21

After a few days they took us to the prison administration to distribute us to the living cells, and gave each one of us a blanket which was transparent from dissolution, a scraggy pillow and mattress, a cup and spoon, and took us to cell (71), which will never be erased from my memory, since we spent in it the rest six months until we got out with the Favor and Grace from Allah.

When the guard opened for us its doors we were surprised, it was a warm cell with a wooden floor, it has a good lighting, with big windows, in the middle of it a wooden table on its side's two narrow benches installed in the ground, in its corner a faucetandbasin and a toilet with an incomplete fence its height is about one meter, the clothes of the people of the cell were clean, and their faces were clean, it was clear that they were stable and their affairs were sorted, it's height was about eight meters, in it was about twenty prisoners, sleeping on two or three floor beds on the two sides of room.

As soon as we entered, I yield cheerfully waving my hands: Alsalam Alaykom, and they replied the Salam, and immediately came forward and made us sit, and were surprised that we were Arabs, and started preparing tea like their custom in receiving every new prisoner.

We knew afterwards the secret in the prisoners and their clothes cleanse, since most of the prisoners their families send them clothes, food, and soap, which without it the life in prison becomes difficult. They used to give to the prisoners bread, tea, sugar and two warm meals, one in the morning and the other in the noon from beans or grain, that I don't know, causes an odd stomach bulge, and they might add to it in the noon smashed potatoes, which the prisoners are pleased with, or a soup which they claim is from chicken or fish, but only contains it's remains.

When the time of Maghreb prayers, one of us stood in middle of the room, and made Azaan for the Maghreb prayers, and it was like a stream of electricity – with the jingling voice of the Azaan – it took the attention of the inhabitants of the room, and when we decided to relay something on the ground to pray on it a strange movement happened in the room.

Some of them hurried to us, and told us that the ground was unclean, so don't pray on it, but come and pray on our upper beds, and we will also pray. We prayed with them, and they put me forward as Imam. They didn't pray in Jamma before.

A strange movement happened in the room, the prisoners that we prayed on their beds – who were bosses of the room – rearranged the room, so that they gathered all who wished to pray in Jamma on one side, and distanced the rest to other beds.

And since then we preserved – with Allah's Grace – to pray five times in Jamma in the room. We began to call the ones, who don't pray, until all the inhabitants of the room - except one or two – preserved on praying with us with Allah's Favor and Grace, and thus they opened their hearts to us with the Azaan.

We discovered how eager the people of Caucasus to return to Islam, and hoe they valued it in their hearts. We also discovered how they valued generosity, forgiveness, courage, and Chivalry, and their passion in sports and especially Athletics and in particular wrestling.

The stage of prison also was an educational stage for methods of Dawah, especially methods of doing Dawah to ordinary people, which the mujahedeen practice only slightly, but that is the most important and major element in mobilizing the masses in any field for popular mass fighting.

I have witnessed a few interesting events in the field of Dawah, for example I remember that I was the Imam of the room, and a man came to me who was considered the boss of the room, he was accused of a murder, and was an business man outside the prison, and traveled to many countries, and did the obligation of Haj, he was very clever, and had for us great respect. That man came to me and asked me: Why don't you do "Tasbeeh" after prayers? I told him: I do it in secret. He said: but the Imam of the mosque of our village does it loud, so that we do it after him, so you have to do Tasbeeh loudly, so that we do it after you.

I found that it would be useless to explain to him that it’s a Bidaa, because I understand him very hardly, and he wouldn't understand what a Bidaa is in the first place, the more dangerous was that he might accuse me of being a Wahabi, and if someone accused you to be a Wahabi, then say goodbye to yourself, your relation with him, and every inrtuction that comes from you, and without argument, if I was accused to be a Wahabi, I won't be the Imam of the room, and there won't be a Jamma prayers, this blessed gathering will unravel, and we will lose our effort. So I said to myself today they pray the Fariza (obligation), and tomorrow they will learn the Sunnah, and there is no harm.

So I told him: Ok, I'll do Tasbeeh loudly. Then he continued his questions, and said: and Why don't you read Ayat Alkorsi loudly?, I said: I read it in secret. He said: no, read it loudly, as the Imam of our mosque does, because we cannot read it. So said to him: Ok, I'll read it louldly. And he said: Why don't you do Dua after prayer loudly?, I said: I do Dua secretly. He said: No, do Dua loudly, as the Imam of our mosque does, so that we say Ameen after your Dua. So I said to him: Ok, I'll do Dua loudly. I agreed with him on all that he asked for, my intention was to soften their hearts, and gather them for Jamma prayers, and I used to do Dua for victory of Islam and Mujahedeen, and they said Ameen devoutly on what they didn't understand, I saw blessings with their devout Ameen on my Dua, and wished it would be a reason to be accepted.

I remember that once one of the prisoners, who was old in age, he was accused – he was a drivers of a passenger car – was a party in a car accident, which lead to the death of many people, and he didn't know about religion except what he grew upon.

I say this man came and said to me: Today is the anniversary of the death my mother, I before imprisonment used to ster an offering in that day, and make food, and invite the sheikhs to read the Sura Yassen and do a mawlid, and give the reward of that to the soul of my mother, I am now in prison, I wish that you be generous on me that we gather today after Maghreb, read Sura Yassen, and read Dua for my mother.

I got what to answer him? If I said that I won't do that because that a Bidaa, he won't understand, and won't except from me what I say, and will think that I'm transcendent and arrogant, and don't respect his feelings, why don't I pray for mercy for his mother? That if he didn't call me a Wahabi.

So I was guided to a trick, and said to him: Ok after the Maghreb prayers Insha'Allah. After the Maghreb prayers, he said to me: Won't you call the people of the room to gather? I said to him: Be patient. After finishing the Azkaar and Sunnah prayers I said to him: Invite who you wish. So he gathered about four from the people of the room, I sat with them, and read Sura Yassen and small Suras, and made Dua for his mother, us and all Muslims. When I finished he was very happy, and thanked me very much, and told me that I did for him a great favor, so I said to him: But I wish to explain something important to you, that your mother has a great right over you, and you specializing one day in the year to make Dua for her is a shortening in her right, you have to make Dua for her every day. So he approved obediently, and I added that you should specialize one day in the year to make Dua for her, that’s illegal, you have to have to make Dua and ask forgiveness for her every day, and he accepted happily with content.

After several months of preserving on Azaan and Jamma prayers we began to hear the Azaan from other cells, so we became optimistic that that was from the blessing of reviving the Sunnah of Azaan and Jamaa in our cell, but that increased to the extent that we heard in a cell in the same ward, which about one or two cells away from us, voices of strong Zikr coming from a Sufi Hadra on the way of the people of Caucasus. When we asked about the reason for that we knew that in that cell is a Sufi man who holds a Hadra periodically, so we thanked Allah that he wasn't in our cell, or we could have gone along with him, and that would have lead to problems.

In the prison there was an inmate who was very genius, accused with a crime of kidnapping, he was not a ordinary inmate, he had a leadership mentality, he was educated and have studied in the college of dentistry, they sometimes called him Doctor, it looked that he was a boss of a gang, even in the cell he had his own group, he had paralysis in his leg, and used to lean on a stick, and say to in craftily: I'm disabled and weak. So I said to him: T he power of man is in his heart and mind, and not in his body. He would look at me and smile craftily, and I used to say to him: do you know Omar Almukhtar? He answered: Yes, I saw a translated about him. The television used to show Arabic movies translated to Russian. I said to him: He continued to fight the Italians, until he was 90 years old when they captured him and hnged him. We called him many times to prayer, he used to give excuses and say another time, but he was friendly and joyful, once we brought to the cell a number of Qurans with Russian translation, when he hurried to look in it, one scolded him, and said to him: what will you do with the Qurans? You don't pray. So he felt his pride was injured, and went in sadness. Onr day I asked him: Why don't you read the translated Quran? He said: I don't want. I asked him: Why? He said: So and so said: what will you do with the Quran? So I said to him: The Qurans belongs to Allah, and doesn't belong to any one. He became very happy and said: Is that true? It's doesn't not belong to any one. I said: Of course. He said: can I take a Quran? I said: Of course. So he took it very happily. After a while he called me, and told me I want you to teach me Arabic letters, I answered him to that, and I used to sit with him for an hour or two until he would get tired, he would write the letters in Arabic and pronounce it in Russian, when I finished teaching him all the letters, he stayed a whole night awake – he used to stay awake in the night – memorizing the Arabic letters.

When he memorized them, he said to me: Come, watch me as I do Wudu (ablution), I stood with him, and he did a correct Wudu, then he said to me: I want to to teach me Sura Yassen, so I used to sit with him many times, and he would narrate after me letter by letter very difficultly, until he would get tired, and that would be sufficient for us, then we would resume the next day, until he completed reciting Yassen, and was able to recite it alone, all this and he wasn't praying with us, and I used to say may be allow would guide him for his love to the Quran. One day he was a sleep in the morn, came an officer responsible for following up issues of the prisoners, and called him and said: Wakeup an order with your release has come. He replied: Go away, stop this heavy humor. So the officer said to him: Are you a man? He answered: Of course I'm a man. The officer said to him: if what I said was true will you give me a reward? He said: Of course. He said so come and look. This is the release order. So he walked leaning on his stick to the door of the cell, and looked from it's opening, he couldn't believe, he had submitted a request for his release for his health deficit, a long time has passed on that, and he didn't get an answer. I went to him and congratulated him, when he packed his luggage, and came to say good bye to me, he said to me: I want something from you? I said: What? He said: I want to take this Quran with me, and I said: It's yours. And his happiness in having it wasn't bigger than his happiness in giving it to him.

Regarding our conditions in the prison, the first period was harsh, the only clothes we had were the ones we were wearing, and they were the clothes that we kept wearing for several months, we didn't have soap, except pieces of soap distributed by the prison administration to all the inmates of the room, the cold was freezing, and we only had the prison food, our colleges in room used to give us some of comes to them from their families from food and sometimes clothes, and some of them used to share their food with them, even one of them used give us all that comes to him from his home, to do with it whatever we wish. After this harsh period the supplies from the brothers began to reach us, we got blankets, winter clothes, food, and medicine, and these were signs of the relief with Allah's Favor and Grace.

It's worthy to mention that the Dagestani community is an interdependent community, that ties its individuals with family, tribal, and national ties, that's why the families of the prisoners are keen on their sponsorship and aid. And on the contrary was the condition of the Russians in the prison, we were accompanied in the cell with four Russians in different periods, their condition was miserable, and they were living on the subsidies of their colleges, and one of them was over 70 years old, he had poor eyesight, and his strength was weak, he was accused of killing his daughter, we used to support him along with the others with what reaches us from food. He was indignant from the Russian government, which he fought in her army in WWII, and gave him an insignia, and now it has left him to lost in his old age.

The population of Dagestan is about little over 2.5 million, but it's divided into more than 30 nations, every nation has its own content, and sometimes there are many dialects within the same nation. The largest nation is the Avar, who are the nation of Imam Shamil, and they are proud of that, and sometimes they attribute themselves to him, so someone would call himself (Shamilsky) in Russian which means Shamilian, they represent about 30% of the population of Dagestan, they are followed by the Dargin.

Imam Shamil has become a national hero to all the people of Dagestan, and all the Muslims of the Caucasus, but the national meaning of the heroism of Imam Shamil is mixed with the Jihadi meaning, the pro-Moscow government is keen to respect Imam Shamil as a national hero, who lead a revolution against the Tsars, this is a derogation to the value of Imam Shamil, who migrated from his land Dagestan, and lead the Chechens under the banner of Jihad, and establishes an Islamic Emirate which it's official content was Arabic, that defended all of the Islamic Caucasus, which wider than the national meaning, which the government of Dagestan tries to confine it in, to contain the sense of liberation of the Dagestanies after the fall of the USSR, even that they changed the name of the largest street in Makhachkala from (Karl Marx) to (Imam Shamil).

From the antics that I saw about this issue that once I summoned to the ministry of intelligence, when they made me enter a building they kept me in a small room for waiting, which looked that it was a room for the alternate guard, since there was a small bed in it, when they shut the door, I found on the door a picture of Imam Shamil riding a horse with his weapon, so I understood that Imam Shamil was still fighting the Russians to this day and inside one of its strongest forts, the ministry of intelligence. Although that during their investigation with us at the intelligence I saw in more than one office the picture of Lenin, so I thought maybe they were Communist officers. But the difference between the scenes was obvious, the picture of Lenin didn't harm the one who kept it, and the picture of Lenin was a simple of the defeated defunct era, but the picture of Imam Shamil, which was hidden by the one who kept behind the door, is a picture of renewed victorious resistance God willing.

We felt the deep impact of nationalism in the cell, since immediately every new prisoner enters he would join the people of his nationalism.
The Russian government on the uses the issue of separation of the ethnic groups, and the issue of Wahabism. The radio of Dagestan is never tried of promoting was it claims as the monstrous of Wahabism, and attaches every ugly thing to them, and these lies are repeated by the scholars of the government, who use the ignorance of the ordinary people with Islam.

They claim that the mujahedeen in Chechnya and their supporters are Wahabies, who work as mercenaries in spreading terrorism, and so on of these lies.

And what helps in spreading this propaganda is the misbehavior of some of the Salafists, and them being busy with issues of Bidaa and fighting Sufism, leaving the confrontation of the Russian occupation to their country, and leaving the call to implementation of the Sharia, and not being engaged in Dawah among the youth in the schools and universities, confining their Dawah to the people of their area, and their violent struggle with the Sufis, which reached to fighting. I also found some of them attacking the Mazhab of Imam Alshafi that even an enthusiastic young man of them was referring to the evils that happen in the Mawlids, said to me those are the Shafies, I scolded on that, and told him that this is lieing on the Shafies, the Mazhab of Alshafi is one of the largest Mazhabs of Islam, but he didn't accept from me, and said to me: You don't know anything.

With the collapse of the USSR spread the social collapse in every country, and Dagestan was one of them, so the trade of alcohol, organized crime, and prostitution spread. And the people became in a struggle between insatiable consumerism and the collapse of the salaries, and bribery became law.

The bribery spread to the police, intelligence, and judiciary, so every case has its price, and the one who pays finds outcomes, and the one who doesn't pay its case became complicated, and go on for many years, and maybe other accusations would be stuck to him to make more pressure on him or spite.

From the events that I won't forget in that cell (71) about nationalism, that when we entered the cell we were surprised with an Iraqi Kurd prisoner in it. He was a young man in his twenties, he was very much happy with our arrival, despite of him mastering Russian content better than us, but he talked with us in fluent Arabic. He didn't have any aid in the prison expect his college prisoners help him with, he owned only his clothes.

And from the antics of the prison, that the smokers in the cell, and our Kurdish friend was one of them, interdepending equally in smoking, so if one of them received rolls of tobacco, he would give it to a custodian, who distributes it equally between the smokers the rich and poor of them, because the smoker would stop getting cigarettes for a while, he would find some aiding him with cigarettes, and subsequently if he gets cigarettes from his family he would give it to the custodian, and our friend the Kurd benefited from this interdependence.

A friendship and brotherhood became between me and this Kurdish brother, and he became like one of us, and I considered him like my small brother, and attended regularly the prayer with us, I talked to him about leaving smoking, he used to promise me and say later. He opened his heart for me, and told me about the hard conditions that he passed through, that he and his family were forced to migrate to Turkey to escape from Saddam. He had to sleep on snow with his small brothers on his legs, waiting for the road to be opened for them.

The reason for his imprisonment in Dagestan that he tried to enter Russia through smuggling, with another Kurdish college, followed us to our cell after a while, because the first had a brother in the Ukraine, who he wanted to contact, and from the Ukraine he would be smuggled to Poland or Slovakia – as I remember – until he reaches smuggling to Germany, where he would ask for political asylum, to live a better life.

I used to wonder, both of us was smuggled through the border, and ended in prison, and both of us are suffering, he for the sake of Dunya, and we for the sake of religion, May Allah accept from us.

Once a heavy joking prisoner joked with him, and called him: Saddam. Our Kurdish friend became very raged, and said to me: I must kill that malignant, I'll ambush him. I began to calm down his rage, and say to him: He's a ribald, maybe he doesn't know the difference between Saddam and the Kurds, and to him they are all Iraqis, then if you decide to kill everyone ribald, you won't live, and you will lose your life with the fools, and I continued to calm him down until he became serene, and when his other college followed us, he praised me in front of him, and told him that this man prevented me from committing a crime.

The days passed, and we were in the brotherhood of ordeal, and once he got in trouble with one of the Arab brothers about a silly thing, and the Arab was wrong, I tried to fix between them, but the Arab was stubborn, so the Kurdish brother became very angry, and left the Jamma prayers, and said to me: I won't pray in a prayer with that man in it. I tried to make him change his mind, but he said to me: This is your manners Arabs, didn't the Quran say about you: {The Arabs of the desert are the worst in Unbelief and hypocrisy} Sura Tawbah 97, I told him the Arabs in this Aya are the Bedouins, and the Arabs are wider than them, also the Holy Quran said after this Aya: { But some of the desert Arabs believe in God and the Last Day, and look on their payments as pious gifts bringing them nearer to God and obtaining the prayers of the Apostle. Aye, indeed they bring them nearer (to Him): soon will God admit them to His Mercy: for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful} Sura Tawbah 99. But his anger made him in a closure condition, my brotherhood with him continued, but he was affected, until he departed us with his college.

I regretted that an irresponsible act would lead to losing an effort of Dawah, and close a door for good, especially the heritage of hostility between the Islamic nations, which were aroused by the corrupt rulers and enemies of Islam. The Kurdish brothers have in their hearts a non-healing wound, made by the Baathists in Iraq, and the secular political Kurdish parties feed this wound, and give them an image that all Arabs are evil men, and the only solution is to be separated from them and their customs, and resort to America, and make relations with Israel, whenever a dispute happens between the Arabs and the Kurds this wound is opened once again, how much I wish from my brothers the Daeyas from Arabs and Kurds to insure that to the ordinary Kurds on the meanings of the brotherhood in Islam, and no Arab is better than a non-Arab except in Taqwa. That America and Israel are enemies of Islam and Muslims, and they are preying on us one by one. On the other hand, the people of Jihad and Dawah should be in their acts and manners a model in Islamic brotherhood, which washes away the dirt of this odious heritage.

In the prison I witnessed the great status enjoyed by Khattab, between the Moslems of the Caucasus, and how the security agencies are scared from him, even the guards of the prison were speaking about him with aweandappreciation. I used envy that great mujahid on that high status, which he got with Allah's Grace, and ask myself what sin I did that threw me in this prison and be deprived me from the pride of Jihad? Which we enjoyed, May Allah have great mercy on him, and make us follow him on good undisgraced, nor regretted or changed.

Not all our days in prison were easy; the prison must have harm, disturb, problems, and protest to the degree of squabbling with the administration, Alhamdulilah on all conditions, from the harms in that prison, that the prisoners are not allowed to go out except for one hour every day, so that Tuberculosis wouldn't spread between the prisoners, in the narrow courtyard specialized for the inmates of each room, with tall walls, roofed with a network from thick iron, the prison guards search the room daily, let alone the non-periodical searches, the inmates of any cell are prohibited from contacting inmates in other cells, but the whole prison is contacted with each other as I mentioned before, the inmate is prohibited from leaving his bed after 10 p.m, also it's prohibited to sleep under the blanket after 6 or 7 a.m, if the inmate went of his cell he has to bow his head, and put his hands together behind his back, and close the buttons of his coat, and he is prohibited from putting his hands in his pocket, but these procedures we used ignore to them, many times the prison guards used to shout at us, and sometimes swear at us, we used pretend that we didn't understand what they say, and we continued to reject these procedures, our goal was to break these procedures by the policy offait accompli.

Despite these harassment, degradation of prison, and fear to be handed over, Allah Subhanah wa Taallah aided us and bestowed upon us the tranquility and preserved us. Ironically I found in the prison two Arabic books consoled me, one of them was (Tanbeeh Algafileen) for Imam Abu Al-laith Alsamarqandi, and the other a simple book in grammar in the sort of questions and answers in two parts for Sheikh Bahaudeen Aldagestani, I read it in prison several times, and benefited from it.

The book Tanbeeh Algafileen was with a good man from the inmates, his grandfather from his mother side was a scholar, the Communists arrested him, and he disappeared with tens of thousands of scholars, who disappeared in the Communist era, thus he was pushed by his mother to seek Islamic knowledge to revive the memory of his grandfather, so he spent some time seeking knowledge, then he got busy with trade, that why he understood Arabic, and talked with it very hardly, the reason for his imprisonment that he got involved in a dispute in his village, that lead to the killing of one its men, and he was very regretted for his act, May Allah forgive us, him, and the Muslims, he was loving and generous to us. May Allah reward him with good.

What aided me in prison were some good visions that strengthen us, I mention here two visions. One was a vision we interpreted that relief was coming, Insha'Allah. It was that one saw in his sleep that his eye glasses were broken and an image of a man he didn't know. Days passed, and one day he kept his eye glasses on his bed, and one of the inmates came – by mistake – and sat on it, I told him this is the first sign, and days passed, they opened the cell and a prisoner entered, our friend looked at it amazed, and said to me this was the man that I saw in my vision, I said to him: This is the second sign, be optimistic the relief is near.

The second vision was seen by me, I saw who told me: Sheikh Osama bin Laden ordered us if a hardship happened to us to pray to Allah with His Grand Names (Alasmaa Alhusna), I found the vision corresponding to the Aya of the Truth Subhanah wa Taallah: {The most beautiful names belong to God: so call on him by them} Sura Alaraaf 180. So I gathered the Grand Names of Allah in a paper, and made the Dua with it every night, until Allah blessed us with His Relief and Grace, so thanks to Him first and last.

These were some of my memories in this weird prison, which I left having between me and most of who I lived with a relation of love, fellowship, and brotherhood in Islam, even that one of them told me once: Everyone in this room loves you. I used to think very much in the destiny that brought me to this prison without consideration, and then He got us out of it with His Hidden Kindness. I used to say maybe it was a educational course on good relying on Allah, and emptying the heart from believing in benefit and harm in any one else, and said maybe it was a course for us in handling with the simple and their call to the bases of general Islam away from the jurisprudential,ideologicalandpolitical debate, and this an obligation that we were mandated to this, as we were mandated to fight in the way of Allah, and said maybe Allah wanted us to benefit and get others benefit from us, or maybe there is another wisdom which we didn't get It, and the amazing thing is that we received this course in the bottom of a fort of one of our worst enemies.

I thought very much that this was the second time that fall in captivity without consideration, then I was about to be ruled with capital punishment or long imprisonment, then I get out in spite of my enemies, and against their will, and I would be amazed from Allah's destiny to me and His Grace on me, and remember the meanings that that the believers get from what the Truth Subhanah wa Taallah to his prophet Moses: {So We brought thee back to thy mother, that her eye might be cooled and she should not grieve. Then thou didst slay a man, but We saved thee from trouble, and We tried thee in various ways. Then didst thou tarry a number of years with the people of Midian. Then didst thou come hither as ordained, O Moses!} Sura Taha 40, and what we get from the Aya of the Truth: {If indeed thou ask them who it is that created the heavens and the earth, they would be sure to say, "God". Say: "See ye then? the things that ye invoke besides God,- can they, if God wills some Penalty for me, remove His Penalty?- Or if He wills some Grace for me, can they keep back his Grace?" Say: "Sufficient is God for me! In Him trust those who put their trust} Sura Alzumar 38

After getting out from prison in Dagestan we had two choices: the first was continue our journey to Chechnya, and the second was going back to our brothers, especially in Afghanistan. We consulted about the matter, one of us choose to continue his way to Chechnya, and went to is purpose easily, and joined the mujahedeen, until Allah granted him martyrdom, May Allah make us follow him on good, but the rest of us we decided to return to the brothers, especially after receiving news about Afghanistan and the Taliban, so we decided to go on a exploration trip to Afghanistan.

Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri

Note: this is an edited version from the fifth chapter of the second edition of the book "Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet" for Dr. Aymen Alzawahiri, published by As-sahab Medai, 2010. (pages 120 – 179) – Arabian poetry and quotations of Ibn Ulqaeem were omitted for reasons relating to translation -

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