June 23, 2014 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1100

Russian Jihadis Use Social Media To Raise Funds For Jihad In Syria

June 23, 2014 | By I. Razafimbahiny*
Syria | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1100


Among the thousands of foreign fighters who have joined the civil war in Syria are dozens of radical Sunnis from Russia, mostly from the North Caucasus republics. Many of these jihadis are active on social media – particularly on Vkontakte (VK), which is the second biggest social network service after Facebook and is popular among Russian-speakers worldwide. The jihadis – some of whom claim to be part of the jihad group of Sayfullah Al-Shishani, who was recently killed in Syria[1] – use their social media accounts to spread their messages, share experiences from the front, keep in touch with friends, family and followers back home, and urge fellow Muslims to join the fighting in Syria. Some of them also use their accounts to solicit donations for the jihad and the mujahideen.

This report presents some of the jihadis active on Vkontakte, both in Syria and in Russia, focusing on their online recruitment efforts and particularly on their fundraising activities.

The activists who raise funds do so using the online payment services QIWI and Beeline, and accounts in Sberbank of Russia.[2] In describing the purpose of the donations, they are usually careful to keep the wording vague, saying that the money is intended to “help the brothers in Syria” or “assist needy brothers and sisters in Al-Sham.”[3] However, the jihadi orientation of some of the pages strongly suggests that the money is funneled to jihad and the mujahideen. Some fund raisers are more explicit about their goals. Some say, for instance, that they are collecting funds “for our brothers who obeyed Allah's command and enacting the Shari’a in this land [Syria],”[4] for “the active part of the ummah in Syria”[5] or for "the wives of martyrs.”[6] Many advise donors to contact them in private for more information. Some also provide information on fundraising accounts that have changed or have been closed, or warn readers against fund raisers who must not be trusted.

The following are some of the VK accounts:

The “Notes From A Mujahid In Syria” Page – Collects Money For Wives Of Wounded And Dead Fighters; For Arming And Training Snipers

One VK page that was popular among Russian-speaking jihadis is Zapiski Mujahida Shama (“Notes from a Mujahid in Syria”).[7] The page’s administrator, Muslim Abdullaev, aka Abu Omar, claimed to be “an ordinary mujahid from Syria, from Sayfullah Al-Shishani’s group”; the latter was a group of Russian-speaking fighters, mostly from the Caucasus, who fought under Sayfullah Al-Shishani and eventually joined Jabhat Al-Nusra.[8]

In addition to posting news and jihadi propaganda, Muslim Abdullaev collects donations for the jihad in Syria. In a March 23, 2014 post, Abdullaev stated that he was collecting funds for the purpose of training mujahideen as snipers. He noted that his group's sniper was armed with a Dragunov (SVD-63) rifle and that they needed to buy another rifle. He informed readers that he had already collected $2000 out of the target sum of $3,500, and that the donation drive would end that day.[9]

Screenshot from Abdullaev's page

Abdullaev uses QIWI to collect the money, among other methods. A March 4, 2014 posting on the page read: “Here is a QIWI Wallet [account]… for those brothers and sisters who [wish to] wage jihad for the sake of Allah by means of their wealth."[10] In other posts he advised readers that donations could also be made via Western Union; by depositing money on a special card, for which he provided the number, or by contacting him in person via the VK page. He clarified that he was not collecting the funds on behalf of any group, but as a private individual.

Photo posted March 6, 2014 on Abdullaev's VK page allegedly shows him (on the right) with a fellow mujahid

As for the purpose of the donations, he wrote: "With your money I will help the wives of martyrs and the injured brothers, or those who are in need.”[11] In another post he stated that he would “identify needy families, like widows of muhajireen [foreign fighters] and of ansar [locals], or injured brothers. If brothers need help, I will give them [money].”[12]

Information For Potential Recruits

On February 25, 2014, Abdullaev posted a message regarding travel to Syria: “Brothers, if there is someone who wishes to come here, write to me in private or [contact me] on Skype. Allah willing, I will help.”[13] On February 23 he addressed women who wish to come to Syria, saying: “[To] sisters who wish to get married and emigrate [to Syria] with their families... a sister will contact you (there are brothers who want to marry, God-fearing and sincere lions of Allah). Here there are no sisters [available for marriage], since the locals do not marry their women to emigrants. There are mujahideen who live here; many brothers live here with their families.”[14]

In early March, Abdullaev's page had some 500 followers. It was recently removed by Vkontakte for violent content, and has since been replaced by a new page titled Dnevnik Mujahida Shama (“Diary of a Mujahid in Syria”).[15]

Abu-Jarah Daghestani's Page – Collects Funds For Muslims Wishing To Come To Syria For Jihad

An activist calling himself Abu-Jarah Daghestani collected funds for a particular Muslim who wished to travel to Syria but didn’t have the means. His call for donations elicited more than a dozen responses by people who asked for technical instructions on how to forward the money. Responding to a question by a participant named Abubakr Safarov, Abu-Jarah explained he was not using QIWI because he had tried it and found it unreliable. Abubakr Safarov then suggested providing donors with the number of a card-account in which money could be deposited, to which a participant called Yunus Magomedov replied that some people did not own a card or were afraid to use it for such purposes. Abubakr Safarov also posted a link explaining how to make deposits to a card-account in Sberbank of Russia, and Abu-Jarah remarked that users could indeed learn how to do this very quickly. Another participant, Rabbani Gadziev, asked if using the banks of the infidels would please Allah, to which Abu-Jarah replied that if Gadziev knew of a better way to transfer money, he should share it with the others.[16]

Nasiba Al-Ansaria's Page – Collects Funds "For Our Brothers And Sisters In Syria And The Caucasus"

An account belonging to a woman called Nasiba Al-Ansaria also features numerous ads soliciting donations, some of whom have been "liked" and "shared" hundreds of times. Some of the ads solicit donations for “the needy sisters and brothers in Syria”,[17] but a few of them indicate more explicitly that the funds are intended for jihad groups. For example, they state that the funds are meant “for our brothers who have obeyed Allah's command and are enacting the Shari’a in this land [Syria]”,[18] “for the active part of the ummah in Syria”[19] or “for our brothers and sisters who are spreading the word of the Almighty and the Merciful by every means. This is your opportunity to help and to participate in this great cause and incur the pleasure and mercy of Allah.”[20] All the ads note, "for any questions, write [me] in private.”

In 2013, Nasiba also collected donations for the jihad in the Caucasus. One of the ads said: “Attention, dear brothers and sisters! We wish to remind you that the funds are intended for the brothers and sisters in Syria and in the Caucasus, for muhajireen who care about state of the Islamic nation, and for their families, widows and orphans.”[21]

Assistance In SHAM

Another notable page is "Assistance in SHAM", now called “Al-Mu’minun,” apparently run by a woman named Khanifa Daudova (see below). The page's profile picture indicates that its owner supports or is connected to ISIS. The page has reposted some of Nasiba Al-Ansaria's donation ads. It has also posted information warning readers to avoid certain donation accounts that have been blocked, and asking them to spread the word, so donors will not waste their money.[22]

Khanifa Daudova – Collects Donations “For Prisoners, Widows, And Others Oppressed By The Tyrant [Syrian] Regime”; Helps Fighters Reach Syria

Further information on Khanifa Daudova was provided on her personal VK page (, where she identified herself as the admin of Assistance in SHAM. On February 17, 2014 she also posted a message clarifying that Assistance in SHAM is not a foundation, but is run by only two volunteers – herself and another "brother." He is in charge of transferring funds to the brothers Syria, while she is responsible for helping to send people to Syria. She added that they collect donations "for prisoners, widows, and others oppressed by the tyrant [Syrian] regime,” and emphasized that she was “personally responsible before Allah for every word, penny and deed.”[23]

On December 17, 2013 she posted an ad soliciting money for the needy brothers and sisters in Sham and asked readers to repost it as many times as possible.[24] She often collected money for specific Muslim women wishing to emigrate to "blessed places" (presumably in Syria), as indicated by the following messages: “[I am] collecting funds for the hijra [emigration] of a sister with children to the blessed places. The sum [needed] is 25,000 rubles [about $700]”[25]; “A sister urgently needs to make hijra to the blessed places. It is a matter of life and death, because she is threatened by the infidel law-enforcement [agencies]”;[26] “A pregnant sister whose husband is incarcerated needs to make hijra as soon as possible."[27]

Sometime in March she changed the name of her page to "Albina Belousova"; subsequently the page was deleted.

* I. Razafimbahiny is a research fellow at MEMRI


[2] QIWI is an electronic payment service that describes itself as "Russia's number one digital wallet"; Beeline is a Russian telecommunications service operated by the large company OJSC VimpelCom; Sberbank is Russia's largest bank, headquartered in Moscow.

[3], January 31, 2014.

[4], February 23, 2014.

[5], February 6, 2014.

[6], March 4, 2014.



[9], March 23, 2014.

[10], March 4, 2014.

[11], March 4, 2014.

[12], March 11, 2014.

[13], February 25, 2014.

[14], February 23, 2014.

[15] Http:// Apart from this public VK page, Muslim Abdullaev also has a private VK page (, and is also active on Facebook (, Twitter (, Skype (Skype name: Mudjahidshama) and WhatsApp. Numerous factors (such as identical usernames, photos and messages) indicate that all these accounts indeed belong to the same individual.

[16], December 22, 2013.

[17], February 17, 2014.

[18], February 23, 2014.

[19], February 6, 2014.

[20], January 20, 2014.

[21], August 18, 2013.

[22], February 5, 2014.

[23], February 17, 2014.

[24], December 17, 2013.

[25], December 11, 2013.

[26], January 30, 2014.

[27], January 13, 2014.

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