Moscow terrorist attack blamed on airport security lapses

The terror attack at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport happened because of inadequate security measures, said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Ivan Sekretarev/AP
Police officers patrol a subway station in Moscow, Tuesday, Jan. 25. Security was tightened in Moscow, after a suicide bomber set off an explosion that ripped through Moscow's busiest airport on Monday.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev blamed airport security lapses for the suicide bombing that killed 35 people and injured up to 180 Monday at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

"Information from the crime scene indicates that there was just chaos; people could enter [the airport] from anywhere. Control was limited and was practically not directed at those who were meeting passengers," Mr. Medvedev said, in a statement published by RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-run news agency.

Vladimir Markin, Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman, confirmed to the official news agency that the control system at the entryway to the airport was deficient.

"It has been established that the terrorist had no difficulties entering the arrival hall where the blast occurred as there was not an adequate control," Mr. Markin said.

The bomb, which Russian news agencies said was equivalent to 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) of TNT, went off just after 3 p.m. in the crowded arrivals area of Domodedovo airport. Domodedovo is used as a Russia gateway by British Airways, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, El Al, and many airlines of former Soviet countries.

Medvedev told RIA Novosti that he instructed the interior ministry to recommend dismissals and reassignments for officials responsible for the security failure, according to a BBC report.

"Someone had to try very hard to carry or bring through such a vast amount of explosives," he said. "Those who take decisions there, and the management of the airport itself, must answer for this."

The lapses are particularly striking because security services had been tipped off earlier to a planned terrorist attack on a Moscow airport, but they failed to discover the suspected terrorists.

The independent online newspaper Moscow News noted public frustration at the security inefficiencies. Security scanners at the airport that had been installed in 2004 had become just a “decoration” in recent years.

“In the last few years they have not checked anyone. The metal detectors and scanners were switched off, and anyone could walk into the airport building,” the Moscow News quoted reporter Yulia Kalinina, writing for the newspaper MK.

In a Monitor report from Monday, Leonid Mlechin, an independent journalist who covers security issues, said that the bombing was evidence that Russian security forces failed to learn from past terrorist attacks.

"This is a serious failure of special services. No one can carry out such acts alone. He needs to be trained, equipped, and supported by an organized group. Our intelligence services have clearly not been able to catch these groups."

"Our society just does not recognize the seriousness of the situation in the north Caucasus. There is a knot of problems, and every year they are not dealt with they grow and become more difficult to solve."

It is widely suspected that militants from Russia’s tumultuous north Caucasus region planned yesterday’s attack.

Still, the airport authority denies that it should be held responsible for the terrorist attack and asserts that they were in accordance with security standards.

“We fully met all the requirements in the sphere of air transport security for which we are responsible,” said airport spokeswoman Yelena Galanova, according to a BBC report.

"We are an airport, we deal with air transport and are responsible for air transport security. All the existing requirements were fulfilled and we acted in accordance with the current legislation,” she said.

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