A major Islamic terror group in southern Russia (the Caucasus Emirate) recently lost its top three leaders after several days of heavy fighting against a large force of police and troops. This was but the latest defeat for this group and other Islamic terror groups in the area. Now the Russians are seeking to find out how many, if any, organized Islamic terrorists are left in the Caucasus.
Islamic terrorists have been active in the Russian Caucasus (especially Chechnya) since the 1990s. In 2007 most of the Islamic terrorist groups in the Caucasus reorganized as the Caucasus Emirate. This outfit was run by a Chechen separatist and affiliated itself with al Qaeda. From the beginning the Caucasus Emirate has been under heavy attack by Russian army and police commandos as well as Chechen provincial forces. Heavy losses among the Caucasus Emirate leadership eventually led the group to move most of its operations to areas adjacent to Chechnya, like Dagestan. That relief was temporary and soon the Russians moved substantial counter-terror forces to Dagestan.
In Dagestan things kept getting worse. In late 2014 a faction of the Caucasus Emirate defected to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). A few months later the leader of the Caucasus Emirate was killed by the security forces. A new leader was selected but in early August he, and his two most senior leaders (the top three men in the Caucasus Emirate) were located by Russian intelligence in Dagestan and a large police and military operation was carried out to get all three men. This effort succeeded and now the Caucasus Emirate is again leaderless and short of suitable candidates for a very dangerous job.