Dynamist Blog

Terrorism in Russia

OK, now I'll speculate. The Russian plane crashes look like Chechen terrorism (A.P. report). Newsweek reports, "authorities were trying to determine why families had not stepped forward to claim the bodies of two Chechen women, one on each of the crashed airliners. One theory: the crashes were the work of a cultlike band of militant Chechen women known as the "Black Widows" because their Islamic mujahedin husbands were killed fighting Russian security forces."

Mark Franchetti of The Sunday Times (London, presumably; the link is from The Australian) has more:

[F]ollowing the discovery in the wreckage of flight 1047 of traces of hexogen, an explosive used in previous Chechen attacks, the Russian authorities had conceded that terrorism was to blame.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has confirmed that traces of the same explosives were found in the wreckage of the second plane, and it has also emerged that the Tupolev-154 sent at least two distress signals — an SOS followed by a hijack alert.

Suspicion pointed to two suspected "black widows", female Chechen suicide bombers, apparently determined to strike a blow against the Kremlin in the run-up to yesterday's elections in the breakaway Caucasian republic--expected to be won by Moscow's man Alu Alkhanov.

The suspected "widow" on flight 1047 was S. Dzhebirkhanova, a young woman believed to be a Chechen who boarded the plane after changing her ticket for an earlier flight.

Suspiciously, none of Dzhebirkhanova's relatives or friends has come forward since the disaster to claim her remains.

No next of kin have been identified either for Amanta Nagayeva, 27, the suspected terrorist on the other plane. Registered on the passenger list as living in Grozny, the Chechen capital, she was the last person to buy a ticket for flight 1303, only an hour before takeoff.

She was a market trader whose brother disappeared four years ago after he was detained by Russian troops. It is also believed that she once lived in a small village in southern Chechnya where an Islamic militant ran a terrorist training camp. Her remains were found in small fragments, suggesting she had blown herself up.

The mystery remained how the bombers managed to smuggle their explosives on board. Domodedovo airport, which the two flights left within 46 minutes of each other, was overhauled two years ago and re-equipped with the latest baggage scanning technology and dogs trained to smell explosives.

Maybe black widows didn't fit the profile.

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