Updating Tuesday, April 4: Police in Russia now believe a suicide bomber, a 22-year old man from Kazakhstan, with close ties to radical Islamists, was behind the terrorist attack on the St. Petersburg subway Monday, April 3, which killed 11 people and injured 45. A CCTV station image showed a bespectacled man clad in a Parka jacket and a dark green beanie hat. A rucksack on his back carried the device which exploded in the train. Another camera showed him walking in the street with clenched fists. Although police first searched for two fugitive bombers, they now believe the Kazakh carried out the explosion, as well as planting the second bomb disguised as a fire extinguisher which police found and deactivated. No organization has claimed the attack, although ISIS propaganda urged followers to “burn Russia.”
debkafile reported Monday:
Russia has been very much in the sights of the Islamic State for some months, even more so than Paris, London or Brussels, although threats to Western towns grab far more attention in the West. In the past weeks, ISIS propaganda has hammered its followers to launch strikes against Russian targets in revenge for Moscow’s military operations against jihadist forces in Syria.
Very little publicity was given to the attack on March 24 in which six Russian soldiers died in a firefight outside their National Guard base in southern Chechnya. A band of armed islamist terrorists used misty conditions to creep up on the base in order to massacre the soldiers inside. The resistance they faced was fierce enough to prevent a single terrorist from making it through.
In recent weeks, the Islamic State has developed a special grudge against Moscow for deploying several battalions of Chechen paratroops to Syria to fight in support of the Russian army. They have been posted outside Damascus, Hama and the Kurdish enclave of Afrin near the Turkish border.
The assault on the Russian National Guard base was the harbinger of a major terror attack building up against an important Russian city. ISIS managed to pull it off at the St. Petersburg metro Monday, April 24, causing 11 deaths and injuring 45 commuters.
The attack took place as President Vladimir Putin was in the city, his home town, to receive President Alexander Lukashenko of Belorus. The timing of the attack attested to a certain weakness in Russian intelligence and security alertness. In his first response, Putin sent condolences to bereaved families. While the motivations and cause of the attacks was still not clear, Putin said that Russia is considering a terror attack "first of all."
The unidentified explosive device went off at 2.20pm local time on a moving train on its way from the Technology Institute station to the Sennaya Square station, Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said. It was described as homemade and thought to be equivalent to 200 grams of TNT. Fragments found it to have been filled with shrapnel, a familiar terrorist ruse for maximizing casualties.
A second bomb found at another station was deactivated, suggesting that a coordinated terror plot had been set up for twin explosions to wreak massive carnage on the crowded train.
The authorities are now searching for two suspects, one of which planted the bomb in the carriage and the other at the station. Metro surveillance cameras captured the image of one of the perpetrators on the run as thousands of panic-stricken commuters milled about in smoke-filled stations and came out of a tunnel after escaping the damaged train.
The St. Petersburg subway, the city’s main form of transport, which moves some two million commuters every day, immediately shut down all its stations. The airport was also closed and security measures tightened in Moscow and at all key transport facilities across Russia.
No organization has yet claimed responsibility for the St. Petersburg attack, but Islamic State followers are openly celebrating, cheering the attack on the same propaganda sites that for weeks posted images of bullet holes through Putin’s head and the Kremlin on fire.
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