Reports have appeared in Russian media over the last 24 hours identifying the suicide bombers who allegedly carried out the two attacks on the Moscow metro on March 29, which killed 39 people and left 95 injured. Moskovsky Komsomolets reported on its website yesterday (April 1) that both suicide bombers were widows of militants killed by security forces in the North Caucasus.
According to Moskovsky Komsomolets, investigators identified the woman who blew herself up on a train in the Lubyanka metro station in the first of the two March 29 bombings as Markha Ustrakhanova, the 20-year-old widow of Said-Emin Khizriev, the leader of militants in Chechnya’s Gudermes region who was killed last October, while allegedly planning an attempt on the life of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. The newspaper reported that Ustrakhanova was listed as having disappeared in Chechnya and that other members of her family have been active in the North Caucasus armed underground. For example, in September 2008, security forces wiped out a Dagestani rebel unit led by Akhab Bidaev, including one of the unit’s members, Kamal Ustrakhanov –who, according to Moskovsky Komsomlets, was known as “one of the most dangerous and bold” members of the rebel underground in Khasavyurt, Dagestan. The paper also reported that Ustrakhanova’s relatives opposed her marriage to Khizriev and had asked the police to find her and bring her home.
According to Moskovsky Komsomolets, the suicide bomber who blew herself up on a train in the Park Kultury metro station some 40 minutes after the first bomb exploded in the Lubyanka metro station was the widow of one of the leaders of the Dagestani rebel underground, Umalat Magomedov, aka Al-Bara, a 30-year-old Khasavyurt native who was killed in a special operation last December 31. The newspaper reported that an unsigned “love letter” written in Arabic was found on her. It quoted an unnamed “expert” as saying this could indicate that she had received “training” in the Middle East.
Kommersant reported today (April 2) that investigators had identified one of the two female suicide bombers as 17-year-old Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, aka Dzhennet Abdullaeva. The newspaper also published a photograph it said shows her together with Umalat Magomedov, in which she is wearing a hijab and both are holding pistols. It should be noted, however, that Kommersant identified her as being the suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Lubyanka metro station –Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that it was Markha Ustarkhanova who blew herself up in the train at the Lubyanka station– and that investigators have not positively identified the suicide bomber responsible for the bombing of the train in the Park Kultury metro station. However, Kommersant reported that Park Kultury bomber “could turn out to be” Markha Ustarkhanova, given that the remains of the suspected bomber in that blast has birthmarks and scars identical to those Ustarkhanova was known to have.
However, another report quoted unnamed Chechen law enforcement sources as denying that Ustarkhanova was one of the suicide bombers and as saying that she is currently outside Russia, probably in Turkey (www.newsru.com, April 2). Some media have published photographs said to be of Ustarkhanova.
Gazeta.ru today reported that investigators had distributed to police departments in the Southern Federal District a photograph, apparently taken by a security camera in the Moscow metro, of a “suspect” in the March 29 bombings. As the website noted, the only things clear from the photograph is that the suspect is slender, wearing a cap and has “a big nose.” The website quoted an unnamed Southern Federal District law enforcement source as saying that the organizer of the March 29 bombings was born in Volgograd. According to Gazeta.ru, it was reported earlier that authorities in Volgograd are searching for a native of the city, the “Russian Wahhabi” Pavel Kosolapov, who investigators believe was involved in the first bombing of the “Nevsky Ekspress” passenger train in August 2007 (www.gazeta.ru, April 2). Kosolapov, an ethnic Russian former military cadet and explosives expert who converted to Islam and was an associate of the late Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev, has been accused of masterminding the 2007 Nevsky Ekspress bombing and is suspected of involvement in other terrorist acts (EDM, December 2, 2009; North Caucasus Analysis, November 1, 2007).
Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader and “emir” of the North Caucasus rebel movement’s self-declared “Caucasus Emirate,” claimed a video posted to the Kavkaz Center website on March 31 (www.kavkazcenter.com, March 31; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu6oL0Hwirc.) that he ordered the March 29 Moscow metro bombings in revenge for an incident in February in which security forces allegedly killed civilians who were been picking ramsons, or wild garlic, near the settlement of Arshty in Ingushetia (EDM, February 16, 19).