Anzor Astemirov, who is also referred to as Emir Sayfullah (Prince "Sword of Allah"), was born to a Circassian family who once ruled Kabarda. He was a student of Dagestani Salafist preacher Ahmad-Kadi AtayevAstemirov and held the directorship of the regional Institute for the Study of Islam. Later, he fought in the First Chechen War with the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria against Russia. He served as the leader of the Yarmuk Jamaat, a chapter of the Caucasus Front in Kabardino-Balkaria during the Second Chechen War and has been the head of the sharia courts for the Caucasus Emirate, the radical wing of the North Caucasian insurgency.
In December 2004, Astemirov was one of the masterminds behind a rebel raid against a Federal Drug Control Service office in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria. Astemirov was also seen as the key figure behind the January 2008 assassination of Anatoly Kyarov, a police official in charge of a special unit of that specifically targeted the Yarmuk Jamaat. Astemirov has taken credit for idea of the 2006 declaration of the Caucasus Emirate, yet he has explicitly stated that he does not support a global jihad against countries such as the United States. Further, he has advocated using dialogue before weapons in an interview with Fatima Tlisova (North Caucasus Analysis Volume 10, Issue 11). On May 21, 2009, Russian security officials claimed that they had killed Astemirov in a special police raid on an apartment building in Nalchik. Later it was revealed that Astemirov was not among the bodies found.