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Chechen Fighter's Death Reveals Conflicted Feelings in Azerbaijan

The Arab guerrilla Khattab, one of Chechnya's most powerful rebel commanders and an alleged international terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden, reportedly died in Chechnya in April. Several days later, Russian officials reported that Khattab's confederate, Shamil Basayev, had also died. The Jordanian commander's legacy remains as unclear as the outcome of Russia's war with Chechnya. And in Azerbaijan, where residents formulate deeply held opinions about terrorism and justice, news of Khattab's death arouses mixed emotions for some people.

Azerbaijanis' reaction to Khattab's death on or around April 19 evokes local mistrust of Russia and of mythmaking. "I think Khattab was a hero of the Chechen war. I don't think that he was a terrorist," said Isakhan Ashurov, a former police chief. "If we consider him to be a terrorist, then we should also consider the 366th division of the Russian army that was fighting against the Azerbaijanis during the Karabakh war as terrorists as well."

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Konul Khalilova is a freelance journalist based in Baku.

Chechen Fighter's Death Reveals Conflicted Feelings in Azerbaijan

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