Chechen Rebel Leader Claims Attack on Moscow Airport

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 36 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport last month and vowed more attacks in a video posted on the Internet.

“This special operation was carried out on my order,” a man identified as Umarov said in the video. The website, which posted the video late yesterday, presented the speaker as Dokka Abu Usman, a name used by Umarov.

“If God is willing, more of these special operations will be carried out in the future,” Umarov said.

The Jan. 24 blast in the arrival hall of the largest air hub in eastern Europe, which killed at least eight foreigners including U.K. and German citizens, was the second major attack on the Russian capital in less than a year.

Umarov also claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Moscow subway stations last March that killed 40 people and a November 2009 attack on the Nevsky Express train that took 28 lives.

Ingushetia and Dagestan, the mainly Muslim North Caucasus regions, are near Chechnya, which has fought two wars of independence since 1995, are hotbeds of unrest because of poverty and corruption.

Stepped-Up Attacks

“Hundreds of brothers” are ready to die to drive Russia from the Caucasus, said Umarov, vowing that attacks will be conducted regularly. “We can carry out operations at any time where and when we want,” he said, adding that they would be “deeper, more aggressive.”

The Chechen terrorists will probably intensify their campaign as parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for the end of this year and early 2012 approach, said Vladimir Vasiliev, head of the security committee of the Russian lower house of parliament.

“Things are getting more active now, it’s obvious,” he said in an interview today in Moscow. “Elections this year, elections next year. We must tighten our security now, and bring it to a higher level.”

Without a solution to the underlying grievances in the North Caucasus, it will be impossible to prevent terrorist acts, said Alexei Malashenko, an expert on the region at the Moscow Carnegie Center.

“The rebels have a strong base in terms of ideology and technical abilities to mount attacks,” Malashenko said by phone. “The main cause of terrorism is the absence of a political solution in the North Caucasus.”

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