Ibn al-Khattab (ابن الخطاب) (born Saudi Arabia, April 14 1969, died March 20, 2002), more commonly known as Emir Khattab (also transliterated as Amir Khattab and Ameer Khattab) Translated to: Commander Khattab, or Leader Khattab, and also known as Habib Abdul Rahman, was a Muslim guerilla fighter and financier working with Chechen Mujahideen in the First Chechen War and the Second Chechen War.
The origins and real identity of Khattab remained a mystery to most until after his death, when his brother gave an interview to the press. Khattab's given name is Samir Saleh Abdullah Al-Suwailem and he was born in Saudi Arabia to an Arab father and a Circassian mother.
While Armenian sources claim that in 1992 he was part of hundreds of Chechen volunteers that aided Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, where he allegedly met Shamil Basayev, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence denies involvement of Khattab in Nagorno-Karabakh war.
From 1993 to 1995, Khattab left to fight alongside Islamic opposition in the Tajikistan Civil War. Before leaving for Tajikstan in 1994, Al-Khattab gave Abdulkareem Khadr a pet rabbit of his own, which was promptly named Khattab. The rabbit's legs were injured during rough play with his youngest daughter Maryam, and the crippled Ahmed would often sit in the backyard, crying over it.
In an interview Khattab once mentioned he had also been involved in the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The fragment of this interview in which he makes this statement can be found in the 2004 BBC documentary The Smell of Paradise. His exact role or the duration of his presence there remain subject of debate.
During the First Chechen War, Khattab participated in fighting Russian forces and acted as an intermediary financier between foreign Muslim funding sources and the local fighters. To help secure funding and spread the message of resistance, he was frequently accompanied by at least one cameraman for the propaganda purposes.
His units were credited with several devastating ambushes on Russian columns in the Chechen mountains. His first action was the October 1995 ambush of a Russian convoy which killed 47 soldiers. Khattab gained early fame and a great notoriety in Russia for his April 1996 ambush of a large armored column in a narrow gorge of Yaryshmardy near Shatoy, which killed most probably around 100 soldiers and destroyed some two to three dozen vehicles.
In the course of the war, Shamil Basayev became his closest ally and personal friend. He was also associated with Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who gave Khattab two of the highest Chechen military awards, the Ordor of Honor and the Brave Warrior medal, and promoted him to the rank of general.
A senior Chechen commander by the name of Izmailov told press how Khattab urged restraint, citing the Koran, at the end of the war when the Chechens wanted to shoot those they considered traitors.
On 22 December, 1997, over a year after the signing of the Khasav-Yurt treaty and the end of the first war in Chechnya, the Arab mujahideen and a group of Dagestani rebels raided the base of the 136th Armoured Brigade of the 58th Army of Russian Army in Buinaksk, Dagestan. Chechen sources reported destruction of all 300 vehicles in the base, including "50 brand-new T-72 tanks", while Russian sources reported only 10 destroyed and 15 damaged vehicles. During the war, the unit had been accused of committing atrocities against Chechens. Same year, Khattab survived a land mine assassination attempt in Chechnya.
The credibility of the FSB's accusation is under question - former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, Johns Hopkins University and Hoover Institute scholar David Satter, and Russian lawmaker Sergei Yushenkov are amongst many who have asserted that the bombings were in fact a "false flag" attack perpetrated by the FSB in order to legitimate the resumption of military activities in Chechnya and bring Vladimir Putin and the FSB to power.
During the course of the war, Khattab participated in leading his militia against Russian forces in Chechnya, as well managing the influx of foreign fighters and money (and, according to the Russian officials, also planning of terrorist attacks in Russia).
He led or commanded several devastating attacks, such as the mountain battle which killed at least 84 Russian paratroopers, and the attack on the OMON convoy near Zhani-Vedeno, which killed at least 52 Russian Interior Ministry troops.
Khattab later survived a heavy-calibre bullet wound to the stomach and a landmine explosion. He was killed on a night of March 19-20, 2002, when a Dagestani messenger hired by the Russian FSB gave Khattab a poisoned letter. The messenger, a Dagestani double agent known as Ibragim, was reportedly tracked down and killed a month later in Azerbaijan on Shamil Basayev's orders.
"Khattabka" (хаттабка) is now a popular Russian and Chechen name for a homemade hand grenade.