Russian security forces have stepped up security following a suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, in which at least 35 people were killed and more than 150 others were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is likely the work of the North Caucasus militant networks, which have stepped up attacks recently and vowed to increase attacks on the Russian “mainland”, meaning outside of the North Caucasus.
According to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, police had received advance warning of a possible terrorist attack, and that three suspects were being hunted in connection with the threat. Two of those suspects reportedly slipped away from security forces right after the suicide bomber attacked the airport. According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the head of the suicide bomber was discovered in the wreckage.
Flights have resumed at the airport, though security has been tightened, and airport officials say departures and arrivals are operating normally.
The suicide bombing is likely to spark public outrage over the authorities’ inability to provide sufficient security and to allow a suicide bomber to bring explosives through security checkpoints. It will also have implications for Russia’s plans to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Monday suicide bombing is the first attack in a Russian city since 9 September 2010, when 17 people were killed and scores of others were wounded in a bombing in the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz. In March 2010, two female suicide bombers launched an attack at a busy metro station in Moscow, killing 40 people. Late August and early September perhaps marked the sudden “revival” of the North Caucasus terrorist network, with militants launching a bold attack on the highly secured home village of Chechnya’s pro-Russian leader Ramzan Kadyrov on 29 August.
Terrorism in the North Caucasus is on the rise, with the number of security forces killed by terrorists having doubled between January and August 2010 alone.
While Russian authorities had until very recently claimed that the North Caucasus militants had all but been quashed, they are now singing a different tune, and Russian politics is clearly at play in the sudden change of strategy. With presidential elections on the horizon for 2012, the new spin on the terror situation in Russia is that a new surge of force is needed. Former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been associated in the past with taming the North Caucasus; indeed, it was this that catapulted him to the presidency the first time. Any talk of reviving that strong-arm is likely connected with Putin’s plans to run for election as president. It is a strategy that is likely to succeed, in terms of campaigning, as Russian public sentiment is that they do not feel projected from terrorist attacks.
According to Simon Saradzhyan, an expert on the region, the Monday airport bombing “would be the first major suicide attack in a Russian city since September. It would demonstrate that the schism in the leadership of North Caucasus-based terrorist networks, which erupted in August and culminated in a number of Chechen and Ingush warlords branching out of the umbrella organization “Emirate Caucasus” and defying its leader Dokku Umarov, has had little impact on or affected the network’s overall capabilities.”
–by Jen Alic for ISA Intel
Copyright 2011, ISA Intel. All rights reserved.