The Chechen terror chief who claimed responsibility for deadly transit attacks in Russia and is suspected of ties with al-Qaida has purportedly announced that he is stepping down in a video posted on YouTube.
Washington labeled Doku Umarov a terrorist after he claimed responsibility for the March suicide bombings on Moscow's subway that killed 40 people and a November 2009 train attack that claimed 26 lives.
Bearded and clad in a khaki uniform, the 46-year old Umarov said in grainy footage posted on YouTube late Sunday that he is ceding leadership to a deputy, Aslambek Vadalov.
"Our brother Aslambek is younger, he has more energy, there will be other results," Umarov said in the video. Umarov said he resigned due to tiredness, but pledged to continue to help his fellow Islamists "with words and deeds".
The authenticity of the video could not be verified, and a website sympathetic to the rebels of the southern Russian province was down on Monday.
Vadalov is a seasoned warlord in his late 30s who fought against Russian forces in both separatist wars in Chechnya, according to Russian media reports.