News / Europe

Moscow Airport Bomber from Russia's Muslim South

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Russian news agencies report that the suicide bomber at Moscow's airport was from Ingushetia, one of Russia's three so-called Green Republics, where Islamic extremists seek to impose Sharia law.

Citing security officials, Russian news agencies report that Magomed Yevloyev, 20, a resident of Ingushetia, set off the massive bomb that killed 36 people and wounded 168 at Moscow's busiest airport.

Russian security officials have not publicly released the identity of the suicide bomber. Russian reporters who visited Yevkoyev's home village reported that the young man had disappeared last August.  They said that last week security officials interviewed his parents, a school teacher and a retiree, and took DNA samples.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service, said Thursday that tests of the bomber's remains showed that he was heavily drugged.  In a televised meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, Bortnikov said: "A huge amount of highly potent narcotic and psychotropic substances in parts of the suicide bomber's body"

He added that police detained several suspects who have information about the airport bombing and a separate attempt to set off a bomb amidst crowds of revelers on Moscow's Red Square on New Year's Eve.

The Ingush connection came days after the Republic's President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told visiting reporters that terrorism was down in the republic, part of Russia's predominantly Islamic Caucasus region.

The president, the victim of a car bombing 18 months ago, said that terror attacks were down in the republic. He cautioned that it was too early to claim victory.  He estimated that the number of active rebels in the republic had dwindled to 30.

Ingushetia's prosecutor Yuri Turigin agreed.  After reeling off statistics that indicated an improvement, he added that there was a significant drop in young men "going into the forest," as joining the insurgency is called here.

But in face of this cautious optimism, police on Thursday discovered a bomb making factory, only 10 kilometers from Ingushetia's highly guarded administrative center.

Also on Thursday, the Kremlin's top envoy to the Caucasus, Alexander Khloponin, warned that average age of young men joining the insurgency has dropped to 18. Easy recruits for extremism, these men graduate from high school and face the choice of fighting for a job in local economies where the unemployment rate is often 50 percent, or migrating to central Russia where police harassment of labor migrants from the Caucasus is common.

Slide show reflecting on the culture of Ingushetia Republic

Khloponin, sometimes called Moscow's viceroy for the Caucasus, estimated that there are now about 1,000 active rebels operating in a region about the size of Greece.

Hours after he spoke, armed men in one part of the Caucasus ambushed a police convoy, killed three policemen and freed a prisoner.  In a nearby region, gunmen invaded a café and shot four traffic policemen dead.

Tamerlan Akiev, head of the Memorial human rights office in Ingushetia, said that young people in the Caucasus are easy recruits for the violence.  Without jobs or marriage prospects, they fall prey to the call of creating an Islamic emirate under Sharia law.

To preempt the fundamentalists, Caucasus leaders are adopting increasingly austere rules.  On Thursday, Chechnya's mufti, or spiritual leader, called on women to wear modest dress in public.  He defined this as dressing where only the hands and face are visible.

With head scarves common and alcohol bans in place, a cultural divide is growing between Russia's Slavic Christian core and the 'Green Republics' on the nation's southern edge.

Last month, the Levada center conducted a nationwide poll of Russian public.  Taken before the January 24 airport bombing, the poll found that Chechen militants topped the United States and NATO as the top threat held by Russians.

Almost half of respondents supported the slogan "Russia for Russians," a code phrase for curbing labor migrants from the Islamic south.

In Ingushetia, Ramzan Ugurchiev worries that Russians are demonizing the Caucasus. As a leader of the republic's youth parliament, he fears that, in an election year, the Kremlin is letting Russia's nationalist genie out of the bottle.

He says that politicians are courting votes by blaming all of Russia's problems on the Caucasus. One year from now, when Russia's parliamentary and presidential elections are behind us, he says, it may be hard to bind together again Russia's Christian North and its Muslim South.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid