>– Chechen Rebel Leader Umarov Blamed FSB for Organizing 2010 Moscow Metro Suicide Bombing
– They Just Don’t Get It File: NORAD/US NORTHCOM Commander Overlooks Kremlin’s Plausible Deniability “Card” in Domodedovo Attack
Following the deadly bombing at Russia’s busiest airport this past Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev has fired Major General Andrei Alexeyev, a top official of the country’s transport police. Ahead of next year’s presidential election, Medvedev, who is widely perceived as Vladimir Putin’s “lap dog,” appears anxious to assert that he is “in control” after suicide bombers killed 35 people at Domodedovo International Airport.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Putin, with his characteristic “tough guy” swagger, vowed retribution for the attack, but specified no targets.
The Kremlin-controlled Russian news media, generally citing unnamed sources, have portrayed the bombing as conducted by a man and a woman, and that the bomb was either strapped to one of them or in a suitcase. At least one accomplice drove the “Black Widow” and her male colleague to the airport. According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, quoting witnesses interviewed by Russian TV news, the male bomber, just before the device detonated, shouted: “I’ll kill you all!”
Witness Artyom Zhilinkov related to Pravda: “He blew himself up in front of my very eyes. It was a man, he was wearing a black coat and a black hat – that’s all I can remember. He literally blew up into pieces.” The explosion sprayed the airport’s baggage claim area with shrapnel, screws, and ball bearings, and dismembered innocent travellers. Zhilinkov survived the tremendous blast because he hid behind a column.
In addition to the dead, more than 170 people were injured. Eight foreigners were killed, including two Austrians, two Tajiks, and one each from Britain, Germany, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The bombing has demoralized many Russians, weary of 16 years of separatist violence in the Northern Caucasus region, including last year’s double suicide-bombing of the Moscow subway system, in which 40 people were killed.
Tellingly, at least for those seeking an “FSB trace” behind the latest atrocity in Russia, no claim of responsibility for the bombing has been made. In our first post on this subject, we reported that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/KGB) was aware that a terrorist attack might take place at Domodedovo but, apparently, did nothing to improve security at the airport. This is suspicious in itself.
Some reports have suggested that the suicide bombers were Islamic guerrillas from Chechnya or Dagestan, such as the Nogai Brigade, an insurgent group in the Stavropol region of southern Russia. The Nogai Brigade allegedly operates under the operational umbrella of the Imarat Kavkaz, or Caucasus Emirate. Imarat Kavkaz was formed in 2007 with the objective of implementing Islamic law in the North Caucasus.
The latest wave of terrorism in Russia began in February 2010, when Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov announced that Russian cities would be included in his organization’s “zone of military operations.” Umarov claimed responsibility for the March 29, 2010 Metro suicide bombing in Moscow. The Georgian media, however, quoted Umarov as blaming the FSB itself for the Metro attack:
An audio address of head of the Caucasus Emirate of Doku Umarov appeared in the Internet, in which he states that the explosions in the Moscow metro were organized by the FSB. “The Chechens would not have done that. They have done everything as though Russian security services had nothing to do with this, but in reality they are guilty. The FSB is to be blamed for the explosions in Moscow,” – said Umarov. According to official figures, 39 people were killed during the explosion in the Moscow metro.
A previous attack on the Moscow Metro took place in 2004.
With respect to the latest terrorist attack in Moscow, Vitaly Razdobudko, 32, has emerged as the chief suspect (pictured above). Investigators allege Razdobudko has been missing from his apartment in the southern resort town of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol region since last November, along with his wife and a newborn baby. Police reportedly zeroed in on Vitaly Razdobudko after connecting him to the Nogai Brigade and a December 31, 2010 bomb blast at a home in Moscow. In that incident, a would-be Black Widow accidentally blew herself up.
Razdobudko converted from Christianity (presumably Russian Orthodoxy) and adopted Islam when he was a student in the local technical university. He was formally converted by a local imam in Pyatigorsk, a Russian named Anton Stepanenko. Stepanenko, whose Muslim name is Abdullah, was convicted of holding a man hostage in 2006. At the time, police found Wahhabist literature, audio and video materials, as well as a manual on explosives, in Stepanenko’s home.
In the light of Umarov’s self-defense, we can only speculate that Stepanenko may be an “arm’s length” asset for recruiting and brainwashing Islamic terrorists on behalf of the FSB.
According to state-run Novosti, Razdobudko was not the man seen at Domodedovo. A video camera “clearly shows that it is a different person,” a police source told the agency. Instead, he is suspected of being a possible organizer of the January 24 suicide attack.
US terrorism experts and authorities were quick to offer a synopsis of the Moscow airport tragedy. Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, commented: “In the last five years, the Russians believed they had pacified the problem. But the attack on the subway last year and this attack [on January 24, 2011] underscore there are festering issues and conflicts still unresolved.”
Ironically, especially for those of us who suspect Domodedovo was another case of plausible deniability for the Kremlin ahead of a Spetsnaz-led WMD attack on US soil, NORAD/US NORTHCOM commander Admiral James Winnefeld made the following observation about US-Russian relations:
People think of us and the Russians as adversaries, and we’re not, and particularly in this area. We feel very badly for what happened to them in Moscow because that could have just as easily happened here. Military-to-military relations between the U.S. and Russia are improving. I would welcome the opportunity, candidly, and I would also welcome the opportunity to host a Russian counterpart here.
Winnefeld’s strategically naïve worldview proves that the Soviet communists may have lost the Cold War economically, but they won it ideologically. US Northern Command and the joint US-Canadian military command known as the North American Aerospace Defence Command are both headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.