Akhmed Chatayev

Russian-born Akhmed Chatayev was a U.S.- and U.N.-designated member of ISIS, and the suspected mastermind of the June 28, 2016, Istanbul airport bombings, according to American officials.“Treasury Sanctions Individuals Affiliated With Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Caucasus Emirate,” U.S. Department of State, October 5, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0199.aspx;
“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Names of Six Individuals to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, October 2, 2015, http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12067.doc.htm;
Will Stewart, “Was one-armed Chechen warlord behind Istanbul airport attack? Bearded 'terror mastermind' fled Russia 12 years ago before settling in Turkey as ISIS recruiter, security services say,” Daily Mail (London), June 30, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3667783/Was-one-armed-Chechen-warlord-Istanbul-airport-attack-Bearded-terror-mastermind-fled-Russia-12-years-ago-settling-Turkey-ISIS-recruiter-security-services-say.html;
Associated Press, “US congressman: Chechen extremist behind Istanbul attack,” New York Times, July 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/07/01/world/europe/ap-eu-turkey-airport-blasts.html.
In October 2015, the United Nations announced sanctions targeting Chatayev, and claimed that he had operated out of ISIS-controlled territory since at least August 2015.“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Names of Six Individuals to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, October 2, 2015, http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12067.doc.htm. According to the U.S. Treasury, Chatayev commanded the Yarmouk Battalion, a Chechen faction of ISIS“Treasury Sanctions Individuals Affiliated With Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Caucasus Emirate,” U.S. Department of State, October 5, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0199.aspx. allegedly comprised of 130 militants.“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Names of Six Individuals to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, October 2, 2015, http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12067.doc.htm. He also reportedly planned attacks on U.S. and Turkish targets from ISIS-controlled territory.“Treasury Sanctions Individuals Affiliated With Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Caucasus Emirate,” U.S. Department of State, October 5, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0199.aspx. Chatayev was twice charged with illegally possessing explosives, first in Sweden in 2008“One-armed ISIS commander eyed as mastermind of Istanbul massacre,” Fox News, June 30, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/06/30/one-armed-isis-commander-eyed-as-mastermind-istanbul-massacre.html. and then in Georgia in 2012.“Human Rights Center Demands Freedom of Akhmed Chataev,” Humanrighters.ge, October 23, 2012, http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=15790&lang=eng. In February 2015, Chatayev appeared in pro-ISIS video alongside a fellow ISIS militant.“QDi.365Akhmed Rajapovich Chataev,” United Nations, October 2, 2015, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/akhmed-rajapovich-chataev;
“Russian Citizen Linked To Lopota Gorge Incident Now Heads IS Battalion In Syria,” RFERL, February 25, 2015, http://www.rferl.mobi/a/russia-lopota-gorge-incident-islamic-state-syria/26869379.html.
In November 2017, he was killed in a clash with Georgian special forces in Tbilisi.“Wanted Chechen IS Jihadist Chatayev Killed in Georgia Siege,” BBC News, December 1, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42193273.

While in ISIS-controlled territory, Chatayev reportedly trained Russian-speaking ISIS militants with the intention of sending them to Russia in order to establish ISIS cells and wage attacks.“QDi.365Akhmed Rajapovich Chataev,” United Nations, October 2, 2015, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/akhmed-rajapovich-chataev. In the days following the Istanbul bombings, Turkish authorities claimed that the suicide bombers had traveled to Turkey from the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, and that ISIS leadership had most likely planned the attack.Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy and Gul Tuysuz, “ISIS leadership involved in Istanbul attack planning, Turkish source says,” CNN, June 30, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/europe/turkey-istanbul-ataturk-airport-attack/.

According to the United Nations, Chatayev left Russia for Austria in 2001. From Austria, he allegedly provided financial support to militants fighting in the North Caucasus.“QDi.365Akhmed Rajapovich Chataev,” United Nations, October 2, 2015, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/akhmed-rajapovich-chataev. Other reports claim that Chatayev fled Russia to Austria in 2004, and that he was granted refugee status there.Will Stewart, “Was one-armed Chechen warlord behind Istanbul airport attack? Bearded 'terror mastermind' fled Russia 12 years ago before settling in Turkey as ISIS recruiter, security services say,” Daily Mail (London), June 30, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3667783/Was-one-armed-Chechen-warlord-Istanbul-airport-attack-Bearded-terror-mastermind-fled-Russia-12-years-ago-settling-Turkey-ISIS-recruiter-security-services-say.html. In 2008, Chatayev was reportedly arrested in Sweden for illegally possessing explosives, Kalashnikov guns, and bullets. After a year in Swedish prison, he moved to Ukraine, where he was arrested on a warrant from Russian police. He was reportedly deported to Georgia.“One-armed ISIS commander eyed as mastermind of Istanbul massacre,” Fox News, June 30, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/06/30/one-armed-isis-commander-eyed-as-mastermind-istanbul-massacre.html.

In 2012, Georgian authorities detained Chatayev following a battle between militants and Georgian forces known as the “Lopota Gorge Incident.”“Interior Ministry: One Lopota Gorge Gunman Detained,” Civil.ge, September 8, 2012, http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=25194; “Russian Citizen Linked To Lopota Gorge Incident Now Heads IS Battalion In Syria,” RFERL, February 25, 2015, http://www.rferl.mobi/a/russia-lopota-gorge-incident-islamic-state-syria/26869379.html. A Georgian prosecutor subsequently charged Chatayev with illegal possession of explosives,“Human Rights Center Demands Freedom of Akhmed Chataev,” Humanrighters.ge, October 23, 2012, http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=15790&lang=eng. though he was ultimately acquitted of charges in January 2013.“Akhmed Chatayev acquitted,” Georgia Times, January 18, 2014, http://www.georgiatimes.info/en/news/85571.html. Later, in Turkey, Chatayev was reported to have led the militia of Chechen Islamist Doku Imarov, though the dates of his alleged time in Turkey are unclear.Will Stewart, “Was one-armed Chechen warlord behind Istanbul airport attack? Bearded 'terror mastermind' fled Russia 12 years ago before settling in Turkey as ISIS recruiter, security services say,” Daily Mail (London), June 30, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3667783/Was-one-armed-Chechen-warlord-Istanbul-airport-attack-Bearded-terror-mastermind-fled-Russia-12-years-ago-settling-Turkey-ISIS-recruiter-security-services-say.html.

Chatayev was reportedly missing his right arm and left leg. He was wanted by Russian authorities for terrorist attacks perpetrated in that country.“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Names of Six Individuals to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, October 2, 2015, http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12067.doc.htm;
Will Stewart, “Was one-armed Chechen warlord behind Istanbul airport attack? Bearded 'terror mastermind' fled Russia 12 years ago before settling in Turkey as ISIS recruiter, security services say,” Daily Mail (London), June 30, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3667783/Was-one-armed-Chechen-warlord-Istanbul-airport-attack-Bearded-terror-mastermind-fled-Russia-12-years-ago-settling-Turkey-ISIS-recruiter-security-services-say.html.

In late November 2017, Chatayev was killed alongside two other suspected terrorists by Georgian special forces in Tbilisi.Margarita Antidze, “Suspected Istanbul Airport Bomber Thought Killed in Georgia: Three Sources,” Reuters, November 28, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-georgia-islamic-state/suspected-istanbul-airport-bomber-thought-killed-in-georgia-three-sources-idUSKBN1DS1Y3; “Wanted Chechen IS Jihadist Chatayev Killed in Georgia Siege,” BBC News, December 1, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42193273. Georgia’s State Security Service later confirmed that he killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during the raid on an apartment block in Tbilisi’s Isani district. Chatayev’s identity was confirmed through DNA and fingerprint analysis in cooperation with U.S. law enforcement.“Chatayev Among Killed Suspects, Security Service Confirms,” Civil Georgia, January 12, 2017, https://civil.ge/archives/218877.

 

United Nations

October 2, 2015

The United Nations Security Council added “Akhmed Chataev” to its Al-Qaida Sanctions List of individuals and entities subject to an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Names of Six Individuals to Its Sanctions List,” United Nations Security Council, October 2, 2015, http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12067.doc.htm.

United States

October 5, 2015

The U.S. Treasury Department designated “Akhmed Chatayev” as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 13224.“Treasury Sanctions Individuals Affiliated With Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Caucasus Emirate,” U.S. Department of State, October 5, 2015, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0199.aspx.

Return to Full Database

Take action:

Help Counter Extremism

Stay updated on the latest

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On July 23, 2016, two suicide bombers targeted members of Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority who were demonstrating in Kabul. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 97 people and injured 260 others. 

View Archive

CEP on Twitter