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Islamist Rebel Says He Ordered Russian Bombing

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 08.02.2011 14:17

Islamist rebel leader Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport last month.

The bomb ripped through the crowded international arrivals hall, killing 36 people and wounding more than 150 others. About 60 people injured in the attack remain hospitalized.

Umarov spoke softly and hesitantly in the video, posted late on February 7 by the Islamist website

His message, however, was chilling: "This special operation was carried out on my order. God willing, such special operations will continue to be carried out in the future."

"Among us there are hundreds of brothers who are prepared to sacrifice themselves" in further attacks, he added in the video, which appears to have been shot on the day of the January 24 Domodedovo bombing.

Russian investigators say the bomber was a 20-year-old man from the North Caucasus region, which embraces Chechnya, Daghestan, and other nearby territories.

Year Of 'Blood And Tears'

The video comes just days after the self-styled emir of the Caucasus appeared in a separate video on the same website.

In the February 5 footage, Umarov vowed 2011 would be a year of "blood and tears" for Russia if it refused to withdraw from the North Caucasus territories.

Then-President Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, launched a second war in late 1999 that largely crushed the separatist insurgency in Chechnya.

The military operation has officially ended, but Islamist rebels continue to stage attacks from their hideouts in the neighboring republics of Daghestan and Ingushetia.

Umarov, who has evaded capture for almost two decades, and his followers seek to establish an independent Muslim state governed by Shari'a law in the volatile region,

The bearded 46-year-old took over the helm of the Chechen rebel movement in June 2006 after his predecessor, Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, was slain by Russian forces.

His group has claimed a string of deadly attacks in the past, including a twin suicide bombing on Moscow's subway last March that left 40 people dead.

Security Fears

The Domodedovo bombing has cast further doubt on the Kremlin's ability to prevent future attacks.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who has called the North Caucasus insurgency the biggest threat to Russia's national security, has since fired top transport police officials and ordered heightened security measures at airports and railway stations.

The Kremlin said today that Medvedev had fired several FSB officers responsible for the security failures that led to the attack.

The moves, however, are unlikely to ease anger over the carnage.

Critics point out that the authorities have largely failed to implement additional security measures pledged after last year's Moscow subway bombing.

"Why have the measures promised and widely advertised after previous terror attacks not been introduced?" asks Oleg Shein, a State Duma deputy and member of the A Just Russia party:

"When subway carriages were bombed in Moscow, when planes were blown up, there was a lot of talk about allocating funds for sniffer dogs in the subway -- there were supposed to be 500 such dogs, but there are still just 40 today -- for metal detectors, for special equipment capable of detecting explosives, for surveillance cameras."

Also today, Russian government officials presented parliament with the findings of their investigation into the Domodedovo attack. No details were immediately available.

written by Claire Bigg, with RFE/RL's Russian Service and agency reports


Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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