Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claims responsibility for Moscow airport attack

In a video posted online late Monday, Doku Umarov says he ordered the Moscow airport attack and his forces will carry out more attacks if Russia does not grant the Caucasus independence.

The Kavkaz Center/AP
This image taken from video received late Monday, Feb. 7, by The Kavkaz Center, a website affiliated with Chechen rebels, shows insurgent leader Doku Umarov speaking in a video in which he claims responsibility for last month's deadly bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. It was not clear when or where the video was recorded.

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for last month’s deadly bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in a video posted online late Monday. The video of Russia’s most-wanted criminal was the second to surface in the past few days, stoking fears of further acts of terrorism by radical Caucasus groups.

Mr. Umarov said in the video that he ordered the Jan. 24 attack on Russia’s largest airport, which killed 36 people and injured 180, and warned that more bombings will follow if Russia does not grant the Caucasus independence.

"You see this special operation carried out by my order ... more special operations will be carried out in the future," Mr. Umarov said in the video, as translated from Russian by the Associated Press.

"Among us there are hundreds of brothers who are prepared to sacrifice themselves,” he said in apparent reference to the possibility of future suicide bombings. “We can at any time carry out operations where we want."

Umarov expressed solidarity with other Islamist militant groups in the video, including those in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. He added that Muslims around the world are threatened by “Zionist and Christian regimes led by Israel and America,” according to the BBC.

Russia’s Federal Security Service refused to comment today on Umarov’s claims in the video.

Umarov is the leader of Caucasus Emirate, a self-proclaimed Islamic state in the North Caucasus that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and Russia. He is wanted in Russia for kidnapping, treason, and homicide, and has taken responsibility for several large-scale terrorist attacks including the Moscow metro bombings last year, which killed 40.

Umarov donned combat fatigues and a black skullcap in the video, which was dated the day of the airport bombing. The video was posted online by the Kavkaz Center, which is affiliated with Chechen rebels and also posted the previous video over the weekend. In it, the Chechen told Russians to expect a “year of blood and tears.” He threatened monthly, or possibly weekly, suicide bombings if the Russian government does not change its position on the Caucasus.

"For Doku Umarov, it's clearly important to be seen as a leading figure in the global jihad, someone who can threaten the Kremlin,” Andrei Soldatov, editor of the security news site, told the Monitor yesterday. “He seems determined to proceed, to keep sending people to strike Moscow.”

The Russian government has taken steps to show resolve against Chechen terrorists after last month’s bombing. The Voice of Russia reports that several Federal Security Service officers along with members of the Foreign Ministry and Federal Agency for Transport Supervision have been fired in the wake of the airport attack.

Top security and transport officials testified before Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday about their investigations into last month’s bombing. The House Speaker Boris Gryzlov told the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that reports provided by the officials would “help the lawmakers to decide how the legislation should be changed to ensure security of Russian citizens, including on transport.”

Also on Tuesday, Russian news agency Interfax reported that a branch of Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate was “crushed” in the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan.

Police discovered components for making a high-yield bomb – including “1.5 kilograms of ammonium saltpeter, almost 1 kilogram of indusial explosive hexogen, 2 kilograms of metal fragments, and about half a kilogram of aluminum powder” – in the home of the terrorist branch’s leader, the republic’s Interior Ministry told Interfax. Authorities have detained four people they believe are affiliated with the group, which the ministry said plans attacks “in order to upset stability in the region.”

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