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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Sponsor, motives in Minsk terrorist attack still unknown

RIA Novosti

20:11 18/04/2011

April 18 (RIA Novosti) - Although Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Wednesday, April 13, that the case of the terrorist attack in Minsk had been solved, the investigation is still in full swing. More suspects have been detained, and all of them have admitted to knowing something. But the sponsor and the motives behind the attack are still unknown.

By Monday, April 18, Belarusian police had detained five people. All of them are under the age of 25, including one girl. All the investigators working on the case are convinced that one of them perpetrated the attack. The police were able to track down the suspects so fast with the help of security camera footage at the Oktyabrskaya metro station, where the blast occurred.

Investigators have not disclosed any information about the occupations of the suspects. But President Lukashenko offered some information in one of his first public statements after the attack: "It is monstrous, but the fact is that all of these villains who committed the crime worked in specific labor groups - one as a turner and another as an electrician."

Several days later Lukashenko described the suspected culprit as a "a mediocre student in all subjects but excellent in chemistry," while Oleg Kotenev of the Belarusian KGB's anti-terrorism center offered this assessment: "As for the motives, this guy suffers from megalomania and resents other people."

Of course, this applies to any terrorist, as does the statement made by Deputy Interior Minister Oleg Pekarsky on a local television network: "It is clear now that they wanted to kill as many people as possible." This is how he answered (or rather dodged) a question about the perpetrator's motives.

That being said, the Belarusian terrorists have some distinguishing features that set them apart from the majority of their colleagues. Pekarsky said that the suspects were drunk when they were arrested: "They simply wanted to drink and probably celebrate. They went to a store and bought vodka for this reason." It turns out that one of the suspects could not be interrogated for a long time because he was too drunk.

All these details are of interest and most likely accurate. Neither the deputy minister of the interior, nor the KGB official would make fabrications about such a serious case. Lukashenko himself was forthcoming about the investigation process. As he told journalists on Saturday, April 16: "We detained a large number of people who were under suspicion, demanded their alibis and interrogated everyone. We detained many people to determine whether they were involved in the explosion and then apologized and let them go."

Given how unusual terrorist attacks are in Belarus, it is no surprise that the head of state is closely monitoring the investigation. He has used the attack as an opportunity to call out those responsible for security in public places for their "bungling" and "lack of discipline." For good measure, he also warned the opposition against "any attempts to muddy the waters."

All politicians try to exploit crisis situations. However, Lukashenko has not taken any specific actions against the opposition since the attack. He had already done all he needed to after the presidential elections last December. He has no need for another crackdown.

However, this does not guarantee peace and tranquility in Belarus. The metro explosion will not reduce the tensions in society, especially since it is still unknown who has sponsored the attack and for what purpose. It's not just the public and the media that don't know. The investigators themselves are unable to arrive at any definitive conclusions.

Vice President of the International Association of Veterans of the Alpha Anti-Terrorist Group Alexei Filatov, one of the most highly regarded experts in the field, said about the attack: "I think that the terrorist attack was carried out skillfully. The quality of the explosive was good. I was sure that the perpetrators of this attack would be found or their identities established in a matter of days. But I'm still unsure whether the sponsor will be identified, especially in view of the confusing reports we are receiving from the Belarusian security services."

To bolster his claim, Filatov cited the unprecedented security measures that are now being taken: "People are searched not only at the entrance to the metro but also at the city limits in Minsk and other cities and the Belarusian borders in general. This means that security services probably have some information that they are concealing."

But if the authorities are concealing, or rather withholding, some information, it's probably because they are not entirely convinced that it is accurate. It's best not to disclose unverified information at such a sensitive time. But this should not be the main concern at the moment. The fact is that the risk of another terrorist attack remains all too real as long as the sponsor and the motives behind the Minsk metro bombing remain unknown.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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