Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 16

Who was the real leader of the Chechen hostage-takers who seized the Dubrovka theater last October? Most press accounts have assigned that role to Movsar Baraev, but an article in the April 29 issue of Moskovskie novosti suggested another possibility. Correspondents Sanobar Shermatova and Aleksander Teit, after carefully studying videotapes of the terrorist episode, called attention to one “Abubakar,” who quietly prompted Baraev during a television interview. Speaking in Chechen, Abubakar urged Baraev to be sure to mention Aslan Maskhadov’s name, not only Shamil Basaev’s, when asked who had sent the rebel band to Moscow. “If our guesses are correct,” wrote the two journalists, “then Movsar Baraev was used as a kind of trademark, while the mysterious Abubakar stood at the head of the group.”

The “Moskovskie novosti” article also reports in great detail on the journalists’ conversations with relatives of the Chechen women who took part in the operation. Their conclusion: At least some of these women were not suicide attackers, but intended to return to Chechnya alive. Three of them were pregnant.