Childhood & Early Life
Akhmad Haji Abdulkhamidovich Kadyrov was born on August 23, 1951, in Karaganda, in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, into a Chechen family that was ousted from Chechnya during the Stalinist repressions (February to March 1944) but moved back in April 1957.
His family settled in the Shalinsky District of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. While the nation was under the Soviet rule, Kadyrov studied farming and building, and eventually shifted focus to religious studies during Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule.
Kadyrov attended the 'Mir-i Arab Madrasah' in Bukhara in 1980, to study Islam. He then attended the 'Islamic University' in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 1982 to 1986. He had also studied in Oman and Jordan.
He moved back to Chechnya in the early 1990s, as the Soviet Union had collapsed. He established the first 'North Caucasus Islamic Institute' in the village of Kurchaloy of the Kurchaloyevsky District. He had initiated the idea back in 1989, when Chechnya was still under Soviet rule.
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First Chechen War
Kadyrov declared “jihad” (holy war) against Russia, which ended as a humiliating war for Moscow. He led a division of guerrillas in the war. In 1993, he became the deputy ''mufti'' (an Islamic jurist).
From 1994 to 1995, he was a prominent participant (as a Chechen militia commander) in the victorious 'First Chechen War' (December 1994 to August 1996), which was mainly fought for nationalism.
After the Chechens achieved the declaration of independence from Russia in 1996, he started supporting the separatist president Dzhokhar Dudayev, who had led the victorious war.
In 1995, he became the chief “mufti” of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. During the ongoing violence between Moscow and the Chechen separatists, he ordered every Chechen to kill as many Russians as they could, because the Russians had outnumbered them many times.
In 1996, Kadyrov participated in a peace conference with Moscow, which ended in their independence. However, the Chechen government failed to establish internal peace.
In 1997, the Chechen Republic carried out public executions in large numbers after they adopted “sharia.” In November 1997, Chechnya was declared as an Islamic republic.
The Second Chechen War (August 26, 1999, to April 30, 2000)
Following the declaration of the independence, violence prevailed in the nation. In August 1999, Islamist fighters from Chechnya raided the southern Russian region of Dagestan, and Kadyrov clashed with the rebels.
The new intervention ended the short-lived Chechen independence.
The forces of the Second Chechen War mostly consisted of “jihadis,” like the ‘Arab Mujahideen,’ in Chechnya. Kadyrov strongly criticized the fundamentalist Islamic doctrine and the religious movement of Wahhabism, and the foreign fighters agreed with him.
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Kadyrov, who had declared “jihad” against the Soviets after becoming the chief “mufti,” revoked his pledge. He accused the rebels of promoting militant Islam.
Toward the beginning of 1999, he delivered a powerful speech to the armed militia, convincing them that Christian and foreign involvement had triggered the widespread violence. He also motivated them to fight against them with perseverance and trust.
That year, Kadyrov rose as a prominent figure in the resistance movement and gained respect as a Muslim religious leader in Chechnya. He decided to withdraw his support from the insurgency and supported the Russian federal forces in the war.
His action did not go down too well with the erstwhile president, Aslan Maskhadov, and he immediately dismissed Kadyrov from the position of chief “mufti.” Kadyrov refused to accept the order. However, a few months later, he did step down for the sake of his civilian chairman post.
According to sources, Kadyrov's decision could have been triggered by his drive toward his personal goal and the traumatic condition of the nation. According to some sources, he feared that the growing sectarian Wahhabi movement might largely influence the insurgency.
Soon, Vladimir Putin became the prime minister of Russia, whereas, in Chechnya, militants allied with Islamist internationalism. Kadyrov opposed the fundamentalists.
In July 2000, Russia seized control over Chechnya. Putin declared Kadyrov as the head of the administration.
On October 5, 2003, Kadyrov became the first president of Chechnya, and to strengthen his power in that capacity, he remained pro-Moscow. He declared several amnesty campaigns against former rebel fighters. He, however, allowed the rebels who surrendered, to join the Chechen police and the loyalist militia forces.
Kadyrov, who had Movladi Baisarov as his chief personal bodyguard, faced assassination attempts several times.
On May 9, 2004, during a mid-morning 'Soviet Victory Day' parade in Grozny, Kadyrov died in a bomb blast, while he was seated inside the VIP section of the ‘Dinamo Football Stadium.’
The blast also killed his two bodyguards, the chairman of the 'Chechen State Council,' a 'Reuters' journalist, and many others. Around 30 deaths were reported. Colonel-General Valery Baranov, the commander of the Russian forces, lost a leg in the blast.
The investigations revealed that the bomb had been planted into a concrete supporting column, during the previous renovation. Islamist Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev was the mastermind of the blast. He later admitted to paying a huge sum for the attack.
Family & Personal Life
Kadyrov was survived by two daughters, Zargan and Zulay, and two sons, Zelimkhan and Ramzan. Zelimkhan died shortly after, on May 31, 2004, while Ramzan eventually led his militia. Ramzan also became the prime minister and the president of Chechnya in March 2007.