CATF Reports Apr. 6, 2017, 1:50pm


On Tuesday, Russia’s federal law enforcement agency, the Investigative Committee of Russia, identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov as the bomber in Monday’s subway attack that killed 14 people and injured over 60. Dzhalilov blew himself up around 2:40 pm Monday inside a train departing the busy Sennaya Square metro. The twenty-two-year old Kyrgyzstan native turned Russian citizen was identified through CCTV footage along with a bag containing his DNA found at the Vosstaniya Square metro stop. Whether he acted alone is unclear, as a second bomb was found and defused at a nearby metro, and certain Russian media outlets indicated two other accomplices were also being targeted by investigators, The New York Times noted. So far, no group has stepped forward to claim what has officially been labeled by Russian officials as an act of terrorism.

While ISIS involvement is currently undetermined, it certainly should not be ruled out, argued The New York Times. The media outlet reported that the Islamic State has heavily recruited from “predominantly Muslim” former Soviet states in Central Asia and has threatened backlash on Moscow in response to its presence in the Syrian crisis. Strategic security consulting firm, The Soufan Group, identified at least 4,700 foreign fighters from former Soviet territories in Syria in a 2015 report. The theory of an ISIS connection is hardly farfetched, considering the group blew up a civilian Russian airliner en route to the St. Petersburg airport in October 2015.

However, other groups speculate ISIS’ silence following the attack is a departure from its standard modus operandi and signals other actors. Chechen separatist groups have a history of launching sizable terrorist attacks on Russian soil and targeting transportation infrastructure specifically, including bombings at a train station, subway and airport since 2010. In particular, Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz), a declining Sunni militant jihadist group linked with Chechen terrorist organizations and committed to establish a so-called emirate in Chechnya through violent means, continues to be widely regarded as one of Russia’s primary terror threats and remains a highly probable culprit as well. Imarat Kavkaz has consistently embraced a similar attack technique over the past several years. The coordinated suicide bombings that targeted a bus and a train station in Volgograd in December 2013, killing 34, bore witness to the group’s deadly capabilities. Regardless of the party responsible, Russia’s “entrenched terror problem” will likely heighten as the country’s engagement in the Syrian civil war becomes deeper.

From The New York Times:

“A native of Kyrgyzstan who had a Russian passport was responsible for the deadly blast in St. Petersburg, the Kyrgyz and Russian authorities said on Tuesday, as the toll from the attack rose to 14 dead and more than 60 injured.

The Investigative Committee of Russia, the main federal law enforcement agency, released a statement saying that the man who had detonated the bomb on a subway car was Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, 22.”

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