Russia said on Wednesday its forces had killed an Egyptian fighter in Dagestan, claiming that he had allegedy set up a suspected faction of al Qaeda in the Caucasus region.
State-run RIA news agency, quoting the FSB, the successor to the KGB, said 49-year-old Makhmoud Mokhammed Shaaban had been aided by Georgia, a charge Tbilisi swiftly denied.
Media identified Shaaban as an Egyptian native who was nicknamed Seif Islam, or Sword of Islam. RIA claimed he had been active in Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya and Georgia.
One of the most populous regions in the mainly Muslim north Caucasus, Dagestan borders Chechnya which declared independency after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but was attacked by Russian forces in two wars since the mid-1990s.
Still low-level insurgency continues in Muslim states controlled by Russia.
"One of the founders of the al Qaeda network in the North Caucasus... and a gunman accompanying him were eliminated as they put up an armed resistance," state TV channel Vesti-24 showed Vyacheslav Shanshin, head of the local FSB, as saying.
Quoting the FSB, RIA said Shaaban had masterminded acts of sabotage to blow up railway tracks, electricity lines and energy pipelines at the instructions of Georgian secret services. Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs denied the allegations.
Unofficial Islamist website kavkazcenter.com said Seif Islam had been "participating in the jihad in Chechnya and the Caucasus for more than 15 years".
Vesti-24 television showed footage of Shaaban sporting a thick black beard and green camouflage alongside other fighters in Chechnya and Dagestan.
In its latest attempt to tighten its grip over the turbulent region, last month the Kremlin appointed outsider and businessman Alexander Khloponin to oversee it.
Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi remain fraught after their brief August 2008 war.
ReutersLast Mod: 03 Şubat 2010, 23:06