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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RTR Broadcasts Footage of Khattab

APRTR footage showing the body of a man strongly resembling the warlord Khattab.
RTR state television aired footage Friday of the body of a man strongly resembling one of Chechnya's two top rebel leaders, Omar Ibn al Khattab, whom the Federal Security Service claims to have killed in a special operation.

The man, with long, black hair hanging to his shoulders and a thick black beard, was shown in both a poorly-lit interior, where his mouth gaped open, and laid out outdoors, dressed in a gray T-shirt with a knit black skullcap and a white ribbon tied around his chin to keep his mouth closed. His right hand was wrapped in a gray bandage, with a thicker black cover, and RTR television said his hand had been mangled in a grenade blast in Tajikistan.

RTR said disparagingly that Khattab had not gone down in battle, but that the FSB had taken advantage of internal disputes among rebels. No wounds were visible on the man, whom RTR referred to as "the black Arab."

The video was produced by rebels, RTR said, theorizing that they wanted to use it to make an accounting before their foreign backers, and it portrayed preparations for Khattab's burial on the night of March 19.

Even after the footage was shown, the fate of Khattab continued to spark debate. "I will believe in the death of that person only after seeing the body myself," Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of the Moscow-backed administration in Chechnya, said Saturday, Interfax reported.

Kadyrov said the body had not been formally identified, and warned that a number of Chechen warlords, including Khattab, had been known to fake their deaths to escape the attention of the FSB. Chechen rebels have said Khattab is still alive.

A Federal Security Service spokesman announced on Thursday that Khattab had been killed in late March in Chechnya's mountainous southern region.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Friday backed the FSB claim.

The Jordanian-born Khattab, who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, emerged as a key rebel leader in Chechnya after Russian troops pulled out from their first military campaign in 1996.

Ilya Shabalkin, an FSB spokesman in Chechnya, expressed confidence that Khattab's death would cut off foreign financing to Chechen rebel groups and speed their disintegration.

Russian officials say Khattab helped funnel money from Islamic militants to the Chechen rebels, and U.S. officials say Khattab and the other main Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, have ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

On Saturday, the FSB said it captured Lema Saiyev, an alleged member of the Basayev-led group that carried out a notorious hostage raid on the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk seven years ago. A court has already sentenced 10 alleged members of the group to prison terms of 11 to 15 years. Basayev himself remains at large.

At least 100 people were killed in clashes when Basayev and the other gunmen took 1,000 civilians hostage at a hospital and later used some of them as human shields to escape back into Chechnya.

Additional troops were deployed in Grozny in advance of May Day after rebels threatened to carry out several terrorist attacks in the city during the holidays.

Federal forces have occupied key positions on approaches to Grozny and taken control of vital offices after receiving information that several attacks were planned for the holidays, Itar-Tass reported.

The report, citing the military commandant's office, said as many as 1,000 rebel gunmen may have infiltrated the city in recent days.

During the past 24 hours, four soldiers were killed and five were wounded in 14 attacks on positions and checkpoints in Chechnya, an official in the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration said Sunday.

Military aircraft attacked suspected rebel hideouts in the mountains in the Vedeno and Nozhai-Yurt districts on Saturday and Sunday, the official said, and artillery attacks were launched in Vedeno, Nozhai-Yurt and Kurchaloi.