eli bombataliev

Eli Bombataliev

On July 5, 2017, Italian authorities apprehended Eli Bombataliev, born in Grozny, Chechnya, on June 28, 1979, when he was living in Foggia. He was arrested on terror charges and accused of fighting in Syria with the Islamic State and participating in a terrorist attack in December 2014 in Grozny. He was also charged with engaging in proselytism towards his partner and other members of the Al Dawa cultural association he was living in.
After his arrest, the Tribunal of Bari placed him under temporary detention and charged with art. 270 and 302 of the Italian Criminal Code.
According to information gathered by the Interpol and the Internal Information and Security Agency (AISI), Bombataliev was part of the terrorist group Caucasian Emirate that swore allegiance to the Islamic State. Although he resided in Foggia in 2014 and again since February 2017 to renew his residence permit, he was often hosted by his brother Umar in Leuven, Belgium, and they were both in contact with Viskhan Velidov and Khasan Chakhabov, both flagged as potentially dangerous individuals and Velidov was also suspected to have fought in Syria.
Even Bombataliev himself and his brother Umar have spent time in Syria fighting alongside ISIS, confirmed by audio surveillance. His passport bears a Turkey stamp dated November 2014 and February 2015 and a conversation with Bombataliev’s partner Marina Kachmazova confirmed that he went to Syria alongside Velidov. He also revealed that he could not go back to Russia because the police would trace his passport and he would be arrested or worse, killed, because of his fighting in Syria.
As a member of the Caucasian Emirate, Bombataliev participated in a terrorist attack on December 4, 2014 in Grozny, Chechnya, that left 19 people dead. He was aware that the whole cell had been detained by police and even his family had been subjected to police questioning. From this evidence, it becomes apparent the defendant’s role and position within the ISIS-affiliated group. Moreover, other friends of Bombataliev have links to ISIS such as Magomed Khusainov, an ISIS sympathiser already known to the police. Not only Bombataliev had saved his phone number but they were both stopped by the police in Udine in March 2017. Bombataliev even sent a link on a WhatsApp conversation with Lizana Umarova, Khusainov’s wife, about the contribution of Chechens to Islamic studies since the establishment of the Caliphate.
The Russian citizen Zelimkan Khamzatkhanow is another connection of the defendant, as they were friends on Facebook. Khamzatkhanow has posted numerous photos of various firearms on different occasions on his social media accounts, and coincidentally Bombataliev was also under investigation for involvement in an illicit arms trafficking network. Moreover, both Khamzatkhanow and Bombateliev, devoid of an income while living in Italy, were financially supported by Alikhan Aliev K., a Russian citizen living in Norway and listed in the World Check database as associated with terrorism. Further police investigation revealed that, although Bombataliev was unemployed, he would send more money to Russia than he received, confessing to his partner Marina Kachmazova that he owned 152,000€ as well as some cash on hand hidden within Al Dawa. A 2017 audio surveillance seems to suggest that Bombataliev was making money through drug trafficking, although it was not confirmed by the police.
From the court documents, it also emerges that Bombataliev was doing proselytism within Al Dawa, used as his headquarters when he resided in Foggia while waiting for his residence permit in 2014 and since February 2017. The defendant also filled in for the Imam during his absence, thus playing a prominent role within the association. The process of indoctrination was particularly directed at two sets of brothers, Kamel and Boubaker Sadraoui, and Orchid and Lusien Mustaqi.
Within Al Dawa, Bombataliev and the brothers were maturing the idea of Islamic fundamentalism, fuelled by Bombataliev’s hatred towards moderate Muslims, especially those living in Russia. They often talked about misbelievers in an anti-Western point of view where even Italians were described as kafir. Amongst all brothers, Lusien Mustaqi seemed to have embraced an extremist fundamentalist view the most, with a prominent aversion towards non-believers. He also appeared to be Bombataliev’s closest associate within Al Dawa, often exchanging texts about the meaning of sin and death in relation to jihad and even commenting on Muslim women training with firearms. Therefore, Bombataliev’s presence within Al Dawa influenced the Mustaqi and Sadraoui brothers to embrace jihadism and harbour an aversion towards non-believers.
When it comes to the charge of incitement to terrorism (art. 302), the police gathered evidence about Bombataliev’s instigation to jihad towards his partner, Marina Kachmazova. They began their acquaintance in March 2017 and eventually got married and since Kachmazova was living in Naples, Bombataliev frequently made trips to visit her. From audio surveillance it emerges that Bombataliev not only openly divulged his jihadist ideology and terrorist affiliation, but he also psychologically conditioned Kachmazova over time. He often conversed with her about the necessity of doing jihad and violence against non-believers, as well as his anti-moderate Muslim hatred to try to convince her to join him in Syria. Knowing Kachmazova’s emotional attachment to him, he ultimately persuaded her to leave for Syria with him in June 2017. Therefore, Bombataliev’s conditioning towards his partner was successful.
The preliminary investigation judge of Bari placed Bombataliev under temporary detention once arrested on July 5, 2017. This decision was prompted by the risk of the defendant’s escape: he had previously expressed the idea of relocating from Italy to Belgium once he had obtained his residence permit, discussing it with Kachmazova in June 2017. He also possessed the knowledge to obtain counterfeit documents, enabling him to move with greater ease, and audio surveillance also confirmed that Bombataliev was preparing to return to Syria as his friends were waiting for him.
In April 2018, Eli Bombataliev was sentenced to five years in prison. The conviction was also upheld in the Court of Appeal and subsequently in the Court of Cassation.