[Barely four months ago, another local Mullah was also murdered in the Dagestani city of Makhachkala (SEE: Muslim Cleric Murdered for Preaching Peace). Both Imams openly opposed the teachings of the radical Salafis and Wahhabis (SEE: Anti-Militancy Imam, killed in Dagestan Was Known for Opposing Militants’ Ideas).]
Two unidentified assailants gunned down imam Kalimulla Ibragimov, his father and brother as they left their house for a morning prayer early Tuesday, regional police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said.
The 49-year-old Ibragimov preached Salafism, a radical movement that promotes an ultraconservative brand of Islam, Gasanov said. Russia’s militant Salafis want an independent Islamist state that would include the Caucasus region and parts of southern Russia with sizable Muslim populations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack could be linked to tensions between Salafis and Sufi Muslim brotherhoods that have for centuries held sway over religious life in Dagestan and the entire Caucasus region.
Ibragimov is the fifth Muslim cleric killed this year in Dagestan, Russia’s most ethnically diverse republic of 3 million that lies between Chechnya and the oil-rich Caspian Sea.
In August, a female suicide bomber killed Said Afandi, the powerful leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood, along with six other people. Afandi’s tens of thousands of followers included influential officials, clerics and businessmen.
Dagestan has for years been roiled by an Islamic insurgency that has spread across the region following two separatist wars in Chechnya. Human rights groups say law enforcement officers frequently resort to extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture, breeding hostility and provoking retaliatory attacks.
Clashes with militants and attacks on police occur almost daily in Dagestan.