March 29th, 2010

Suicide bombers on Moscow subway

Now we read the terrible news that two female suicide bombers have killed 38 people and wounded another 65 in two separate blasts on the Moscow subway.

We should not be surprised by any of this. It is actually more of a surprise that it doesn’t happen more often. Bill Roggio has some information about who may have done it that fits in with my own first (and relatively uninformed) thought—Chechnians:

The FSB believes the attacks were carried out by the ‘Black Widows,’ members of the Caucasus Emirate’s female suicide bomber cadre. The chief of the FSB said the heads of two women have been recovered at the blast sites. The Black Widows are typically wives or daughters of family members killed during the wars against the Russians in Chechnya.

Here’s some background from Roggio:

A cell associated with Sayeed Buryatsky, the slain ideologue of Caucasus Emirate [formerly Chechnya], may have carried out today’s attack. On March 2, Russian security forces killed Buryatsky and five other terrorists during a raid in Ingushetia. Buryatsky was the mufti for the Caucasus Emirate.

During an interview this February with the pro-terrorist Kavkaz Center, Umarov [the current leader of the al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate] threatened to conduct attacks using the Riyad-us-Saliheen [martyr operations] in the heart of Russia. He also reiterated that the Riyad-us-Saliheen was back in action…

“Blood will no longer be limited to our (Caucasus) cities and towns,” Umarov continued. “The war is coming to their cities. If Russians think the war only happens on television, somewhere far away in the Caucasus where it can’t reach them, inshaAllah (God willing), we plan to show them that the war will return to their homes.”

But the world being what it is, and this being Russia in particular, nothing is certain—except that a great many innocent people died today at the hands of terrorists bent on sowing fear and chaos in Russia.

31 Responses to “Suicide bombers on Moscow subway”

  1. Adrian Says:

    The war? What war? There is no terror war. This was just another man-caused disaster. Nothing to see. Everybody move along.

  2. Tatyana Says:

    Neo, my first reaction was like yours – and that just shows that I lost touch with Russian reality, in some degree.

    Much more informed people in my LJ connections confidently point their fingers at the Kremlin as organizers of this crime – just like they did in 1999 in explosions of apartment buildings in Ryazan.
    Russian government is not trusted in Russia; and given the history of who is in power there any provocation , I mean by people who are professionals in provocations and desinformation are to be expected.

    Several markers are indicative of plausibility of this theory: that administration immediately, within hours (of panic, disruption and general chaos on the streets) already named the responsible. The fact that Putin’s party, “United Russia”, had in the latest poll gained only 28% of support. That this same scenario have been played in the past as trigger for escalation of the war in Caucasus. That officials from the government and party United Russia are already calling for silencing dissent: Terrorists feel when society is thorn by political conflicts…Terrorists gave negative marks to the negativity that some are spreading in our political sphere recently. Every politician should feel own responsibility for what has happening in the country now’. (Irina Yarovaya, Assistant to Head of Committee for Constitutional Jurisprudence and a coordinator of the “United Russia”‘ orwellian-named “State-Patriotic Club”.

    You should see the comments under this statement. They see right through the finger-pointing.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Tatyana: that’s what my last paragraph was hinting at.

    But we do not know. The conspiricists who blame the Kremlin are something like the 9-11 truthers here (although with more reason to believe what they believe). The truth is that we do not know, and that Chechens certainly have a history of this sort of thing.

  4. Sergey Says:

    Tatyana, you know nothing about to-day Russia, and some of your claims are just ridiculous. The last thing Russian rulers want now is such security blunders: they made all their political capital on claims of winning war on terror and providing security and stability. Only lunatic fringe in Russia believe these crazy conspiracy theories. They are akin 9/11 truthers. And this is simply untrue that Russian government is not trusted in Russia: it is trusted much more that anybody else. (That is, everybody else is not trusted at all.) Doku Umarov already took responsibility for this crime: just see Kavkaz.org, the site of Chechen terrorists. These crazy “black widows” hardly undestood that they just signed death sentence not only to themselves, but to half of their relatives. Ingushetia has been at cross-hair of Al-Qaeda emissars for years, and introducing martial law here is long overdue.

  5. Tatyana Says:

    Tov. Colonel (I’m sure I flatter you with that rank) – these are not my speculations; as I said – these are comments of people who either live in Russia or are in constant personal contact. As well as Russian citizen who left their comments below the article in my link.

    Besides, NOT LIVING IN US never stopped YOU from speculating about our situation here and political forces in play. Oh, I get it – you do it professionally, that’s your job. You’re enraged at amateurs…I hear you. Well, tough.

    But of course some Chechen thug would “take responsibility” – 1st, it is good for his resume and cost him nothing, 2nd – he or someone other thug might very well be involved – bribed and paid by Kremlin; naturally, he has many “foot soldiers” willing to do his bidding.

    Please, don’t embarrass yourself with further denials; this scam is so transparent and so crude – oyu gotta be ashamed doing such sloppy work.

  6. Sergey Says:

    There was NO panic and general chaos on the streets. Just the opposite, Ministry of Extraordinary Situation (it combines all emergency services in Russia) made very quick and well-organized evacuation of wounded to hospitals. It again confirmed its well-earned reputation. No wonder FSB found the suspects so quickly: survilance cameras are installed in Moscow metro at every corner, and the heads of suicide bombers were recovered. So experts could trace not only them, but also their companions, of Slavic origin, who helped them navigate through labirinths of Moscow metro (they could not have done it themselves, which is impossible for non-Moscovites.) Their foto are now known, and it will took days for other members of the terrorist team being arrested.

  7. Tatyana Says:

    Neo: of course we do not know, and so can not Russian authorities, so soon after the incident – unless they were the ones who organized it.

    See, here lies the danger of projecting experiences from one world onto another: the Truthers here have no objective ground for their theories. While in Russia worse things were instigated and organized on state level.
    What is entirely unbelievable here could be a sad truth there.

    In this case, knowing some interesting details – talked about, f.i., in this article – helps in understanding the scope of deception. Also, there is a lesson in the life and death of famous investigative journalist and parliamentarian Yuri Shchekochikhin.

  8. Sergey Says:

    I know the type of people you cited, seen dozens of them. Even my own cousin living in California told me such drivel, when visiting me last summer. I don’t blame anybody who lived in Soviet Union for being paranoid: this a very common and understandable trait. But this does not makes it any healthier.

  9. Tatyana Says:

    That was a great comment, Sergey, give us more. It read just like reports by “political commentators” of the 80s on Soviet television.

    That was just excellent sampling…are oyu sure you didn’t accidentally switched the addressees of your reporting?

  10. Tatyana Says:

    There was no panic, huh?

    Right, it’s all those paranoid foreign voices:

    “People started running, panicking, falling on each other,” he said.

    The second blast at Park Kultury, which is six stops away from Lubyanka on the Sokolnicheskaya line, came at 0838 (0438 GMT). It struck at the back of the train as people were getting on board.

    “I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body,” one passenger told the RIA news agency.

    “People were yelling like hell,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke and within about two minutes everything was covered in smoke.”

    The security services said the bomb that went off at Lubyanka station had an equivalent force of up to 4kg of TNT, while the bomb at Park Kultury was equivalent to 1.5-2kg of TNT.

    The devices – believed to have been made with the powerful explosive, hexogen, which is more commonly known as RDX – were filled with chipped iron rods and screws for shrapnel.

    “The whole city is a mess, people are calling each other, the operators can’t cope with such a huge number of calls at a time,” said Olga, a BBC News website reader in Moscow. “Those who witnessed the tragedy can’t get over the shock.”

  11. Tatyana Says:

    There are other sources of information to look into:

    “One Russian tweeter, admonishing people like a courtyard babushka, but in her 20s judging from her picture, was upset that people were hanging out on Twitter and arguing over which hashtags to use, an urged people to go to the scene to help drive people away, as taxi drivers were supposedly charging US $100 per ride for the service (3000 rubles). That might have been ill-advised given the traffic jams, but she continued to berate her fellow tweeters for not caring about people, and instead, continuing to speculate whether it was an inside job. But unless an opposition is free to question what the police did or did not know in advance, and how they responded, the truth of the situation cannot be reached.”


    “To be sure, if you were an intrepid reporter, it would be damn hard to get past the beefy MChS men who blanketed the subway areas, some of whom are already in place routinely. The first blast took place at the Lubyanka stop, which is near the old KGB headquarters and prison by that name, and a building still used by some of the KGB’s descendents in the Federal Security Service (FSB). The second blast was at Park Kultury, a well-trafficked busy spot near a famous park which would also routinely have lots of police at it anyway. One tweet spoke of increased police presence in general in recent weeks, as if the police knew something the public didn’t know (and maybe they did!). But this could be due to the dissent and demonstrations of recent weeks.”

  12. Sergey Says:

    So blast on Nevsky Express (two ministers were killed among 26 victims) also was “inside job”? And Umarov’s treats of retaliation – a spectacle? May be, the whole organization of Chechen separatists with their site “Kavkaz.org” is also FSB-run? That is a problem with conspiracy theorists: to justify one crazy claim, they need to make another, even crazier, and so on, untill the only people not involved in supposed vast conspiracy are conspiracy theorists themselves.

  13. Sergey Says:

    I also mentioned increased police presence in metro stations last two weeks. But after Umarov threats of retaliation this is completely understandable. But why it possibly could be needed, if authorities knew where and when the blasts would happen? For greater realism? You overestimate foresight of Russian security services.

  14. Sergey Says:

    Of course, there was panic at bombed stations – but not on the streets, just as I asserted, and contrary to what you asserted. But it lasted no more than half an hour, and order was reestablished remarkably fast.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Tatyana: we knew almost instantaneously who was responsible for 9/11. It is possible to know these things. Perhaps there was evidence on the women’s body parts in the current case, for example. I think it is irresponsible to jump to conclusions of an inside job at this point. Which does not mean I think the Russian government is above board and trustworthy. I am not that naive, even if I am an intellectual :-).

  16. Tatyana Says:

    No, I am sorry to say, Neo, we didn’t know almost instantaneously, who were the 9/11 terrorists. I was here and I know: there was a lot of “allegedly” and ” a group called Al-Quieda took responsibility”, etc. But there was no official announcement and no immediate results of investigation. What’s more, a lot of people who walked with me the length of Manhattan that day were talking about possible act of war, as in state-vs-state aggression, not an isolated incident of a terrorist group. Some even thought it was a beginning of nuclear attack. Exactly because there was not much information in the news and certainly there was no statements from the authorities about the source.
    I am sure, having walked through those suddenly quiet streets with fire engines blasting and silent people on sidewalks – it is improbable that within 2 hours there is enough information for authorities to put definite blame on a certain group and to have a concrete evidence. Not with all those people in rush hour underground, pooling near stopped escalators in an urge to get out.

    Contrary to what your commenter above would want you to believe, Russian “ministries” are much more inept and unprofessional than American ones. I wouldn’t trust their immediate statements about “women body parts” and “hexagon” and what not: too much info too soon after the tragedy and too confidently delivered.

    Have you read my links, Neo? Especially the last one; shows very well how confused, panicked and disoriented people in Moscow are. They remember all similar events, starting in 1999, and how these events were “investigated”. They pray, and they sit at home – the usually buzzing Metro is empty now – and most of all, they are all afraid. And many stress that their fear “is not necessarily is of terrorists”.

    Of course, the truth might not be known, not now not forever, as is the case with previous cases.

  17. Sergey Says:

    Just ask a random person at Moscow street which Russian government agency works best, and 9 in 10 will tell that it is Ministry of Emergency Situations. They arrive at place in minutes, faster than ambulances or firefighters, and do very proffesional job. I seen them in action when there was a terrible car catastrophe in crossroad just near my house. Helicopter landed on the lawn, they used special tools to cut the roof of the car, saved peoples from it, put them on stratcher and were in the air 5 minites later. Today they organized emergency hospital at Sadovoe Koltzo and evacuated heavy wounded by helicopters 20 minites after blast. They are also better equipped, even for medical emergencies. That Moskovites feel afraid, this is absolutely true, and television many times today asked people to sit home and avoid unnecessary trips to downtown. They do fear terrorists – everything else is just idle speculation.

  18. Mr. Frank Says:

    Russia has a bigger problem with radical Islamic terrorism than us given the geography of the situation. I’ve often wondered why they didn’t see an advantage of working with us on the problem. Perhaps they understand that we would have problems with their brutal approach to such matters.

  19. Tatyana Says:

    Mr. Frank, Russia (or, rather USSR) is the one who sort of encouraged and instigated the problem of Islamic radicalism, at least in Afghanistan and Arab countries. Besides, during thousands of years of Russian Empire there have been a long history of Russian-Islamic world relations.

    Several of Islamic republics are still either part of Russian Federation or surround it – after being part of Russia or USSR for many decades and even centuries.
    Russians consider dealing with their Islamic terrorists their own “interior” business; why would theyinvite foreigners to work on their problem?

  20. Sergey Says:

    Today president Medvedev had a telephone conversation with Obama seeking his cooperation in the war against terrorism. USSR had long-established relations with Arab countries, but not with Islamists: their clients were secular socialist regimes of pan-Arabist ideology, from Nasser to Arafat and other Baasists (including Saddam Hussein). Baas is a secular ideology, an enemy of Islamists. Former “Islamic” republic of USSR also were and are secular, islamists are persecuted in them even more cruelly than in Russia. Also, a traditional sect of Islam popular here is Sufi Islam, also an enemy of Wahhabi militant Islam, which is known as Islamism.

  21. Tatyana Says:

    Side note, for illustration:

    the beatings of “Caucasian*-looking” women on the streets already started.

    This is what it was done for, as a start.

    *”Caucasian” in Russia means native to Caucasus region; Armenians and Georgians are the obvious examples, but there are about 30 (or more) ethnicities there, mostly Muslims. Chechens and Dagestani, f.ex, belong to this group.
    Obviously, not all people with Asian/exotic face types are from Caucasus or Muslims, but a mob doesn’t differentiate; I recall there was a sole case of a beating after 9/11 – of a Singh who unfortunately was wearing a turban. Same story.

  22. Sergey Says:

    Except this did not started, but ended: just one case was reported, with one person involved; mass media condemned this unanimously, and Patriarch warned against any such attempts. The woman in the link provided by Tatyana did not give any verifiable sources, only expressed her “fears”, remembered from Soviet epoch, and she does not even live in Russia. Everybody remember such fears about “backlash” in USA after 9/11, which never materialized. They only created a comical tradition of Western politicians to visit nearby mosque hours after every Muslim atrocity with assurances of their loyality and tolerance. The same repugnant comedy is repeated now in Russia.

  23. Tatyana Says:

    Right, there is or never was a pogrom in Russia. Armenians or Georgians, or Jews, or Chechens or millions others – they have nothing to fear in Russia.

    It’s just lovely, how this Putinoid reveals his nature; next he’ll break into Russian anthem in extasy. Cover your ears, guys.

  24. Artfldgr Says:

    One thing that is clear from the two positions of sergey and tatyana, is that given such a living condition between people from the same place, the ablity of the people to be unified to change the state is nil. they fight each other and leave the leaders alone…

    so sergey side protects intrigue… as being reasonable that it doesnt happen, despite history

    and tatyanas side sees intrigue, even if there isnt… and so sees it as unreasonable to think otherwise given history.

    only history would suggest who had the wiser position regardless of veracity…

    in truth… russia leaders are very much the same leaders as before…and that is something that sergey cant get around. that a large number of the real movers and shakers who are not in the public eye, are still the same canny people who have only changed their behavior as it the cahnge suits their ends more, not because they learned something was wrong with an ideology that grants them so much.

    My opinion?

    i lean towards tatyana, given that there hs been little evidence of beneficial change in the polity, and much evidence in that they only changed tactics not ends.

    this was why stalin replaced so many of each population with natives… in this way, he would be able to raise up race and divide the people, and in so doing secure his position over the rabble who cant see their hands in front of their faces.

  25. Sergey Says:

    “russia leaders are very much the same leaders as before”
    With some caveats, with this I agree. But they operate in starkingly different historical situation. What changed beyond recognition is the society itself. This includes not only vastly expanded middle class, but the mentality of ruling elites, too. These elites will never tolerate now mass repressions, and they are smart enough to feel danger and defend themselves from it. Real powers of any politician, and this includes president and premier-minister, are very restricted. The only moves that are now possible to them must be quite popular among masses, among urbanized and largely westernized middle class and among elites themselves. This reduces their ability to play loose with public opinion dramatically. I have no doubt that Putin, for example, would be happy to revert to many items of Stalinist ideology and practice; but I also have no doubt that almost nothing of this he could do without being removed from power or simply killed. And he, too, knows this. There is no loyal apparat of political violence to use against rivals or opponents, and balance of power is religiously maintained. The fact that such power struggle is not going on openly and looks more, by Churchill words, like “a struggle of bulldogs under the carpet”, does not makes it less efficient in maintaining status quo. And this status quo includes keeping all parties of the game safe enough and satisfied with their spoils and shares of common property.

  26. Tatyana Says:

    I made a mistake. Sorry for that.

    This guy is not a Colonel. Not even a Major.

    Not higher than a Captain, and maybe even a Sr. Lieutenant.
    Too crude.

    Although with uncommonly good English – what, MGIMO? Interior FSB School?

    How’s your family of 15 children? And your work in genetics (or whatever that cover was – microbiology? Viruses?) How’s your Christian Russian Orthodox calendar – what was the topic of the last sermon in your church? My, my, at this busy Easter week, with all the services and rites, this model Russian citizen found precious time, thorn from family and Spiritual Life, to lecture us on the glories of Russian government!

    And everyone is reading quietly. Maybe even consider him FOR REAL.

    No, this is too precious.

    I’ll have to send the link to my friends and relatives. There is not much to laugh at this days, this might make the cut.

  27. Sergey Says:

    See my work on evolutionary genetics
    http://www.chronos.msu.ru/RREPORTS/chudov_evoluciya.htm
    and on sociology
    http://www.chronos.msu.ru/RREPORTS/chudov_obobschenie.htm
    My mathematical works are too technical to understand for laypersons, especially females, so I do not provide links on them.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    Sergey and Tatyana: please refrain from more of the personal infighting, and keep it to the issues.

  29. Sergey Says:

    “not because they learned something was wrong with an ideology that grants them so much”
    They learned this perfectly. This ideology did not give them anything since 1980, so they jettisoned it. Nobody believes anymore in communism in Russia, even Putin. Crony capitalism gave them much more in terms of money, freedom to use them, and personal safety. This is the main problem of Putin’s regime: they have no ideology, and can not invent it. Russian people are fed up with any type of explicit ideology and prefer to have none. This void is filled by primitive selfishness in most cases; young people simply try to make career, earn lots of money and enjoy life.

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    Interesting points Sergey..

    what i find interesting is that i get both Sergey and Tatyana. i also understand their infighting…

    its really due to places in time, and where they ended up, and both are right to a degree, and both are wrong to a degree..

    though it would be a painful gordian knot to unravel.

    tatyana is right in that you dont get the education sergey has and not be loyal to a degree.

    and sergey is right, that the situation has changed, though i dont agree to the degree he promotes.

    i too, unlike others are aware of the ideas of a certain russian who changed the face of the soviets with ideas of how to present a different face… which makes it impossible to know or tell whether sergey is following that idea, or just being sergey a person from who that perspective is honest.

    Tatyana i think feels certain of one answer… while i feel certain that there is no way to know, or in this screwed up game, even to know tatyana’s position as not being feined.

    this is not to be insulting, i really dont want to be.

    its just a clear example of the kind of mind games that such a system creates within the people who have been stuck at some stage with it.

    being from the outside of it with tour guides, i have seen this over and over in different forms…

    and why i said, that rather than be a genious, stalins ideas of injecting a new 1/3 of the population may have insured that leaders stay leaders, but it also insured that leaders stay leaders over a population that can get their crap together as they are too busy focusing on things that distract them.

    so forgive me if i didnt say that right… its a hard concept to try to convey to people who have no idea of the kinds of symptoms that such living can cause.

  31. Sergey Says:

    True totalitarian regime is a very strange societal pathology to anybody who did not experienced it on oneself. Just authoritarian one, in contrast, is a very common thing: most of the world population lives under this condition. That is why I see the difference between these two as tremendous. In terms of personal freedom, USSR and present day Russia are worlds apart. My own children do not believe me when I retell them some episodes of my life in Sovet epoch: they thik that I simply invent them, so absurd it looks for them. This is a true measure of the scope of the difference.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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