(JTA) — The shooting of a Chabad rabbi in the Russian republic of Dagestan was likely a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, investigators said.
Rabbi Artur Ovadia Isakov was shot on July 25 in Derbent, in southern Russia, “because of his religious duties, likely by Muslim extremists,” investigators said, according to a report by the Russian news site Gazeta.ru. Police are searching for the perpetrators, who will be charged with attempted murder, the news site reported.
Isakov was gunned down by unknown assailants outside his home as he was exiting his car. According to a Chabad website, Isakov was returning from his work performing shechitah, ritual slaughter. Authorities also told Rabbi Ahraon Gurevitch, who acts as chaplain for the Russian armed forces, that they believed Islamists were behind the shooting, Chabad reported.
Ramazan Abdulatipov, the acting president of Dagestan, released a statement after the shooting blaming “extremists and terrorists [who] do not want a happy, normal life for us all.” He said, “Only ignorant people, enemies of Dagestan, are able to do this.”
Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic of Russia near Chechnya, “is outraged,” Abdulatipov wrote.
Isakov was transported to Israel in critical condition with injuries to his liver but has since regained consciousness and is no longer in life-threatening condition, Israeli Army Radio reported. Isakov, a 40-year-old father of four children, told Israeli media he intends to return to Derbent as soon as he is well.
Russia’s intelligence agency, FSB, found 100 pounds of explosives in the hands of Muslim extremists in Dagestan, Gazeta.ru reported this week.