By William Tucker
At about 4:40 p.m. local time, a suicide bomber struck Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport killing 35 and wounding well over 100 more. News reports up to this point have published contradictory information, as is usually the case in a terrorist attack, but some facts have been established through official sources. It has been clarified by Russian sources that only one suicide bomber struck the airport with a bomb composed of at least 11 pounds of TNT or an equivalent explosive. The explosion gave off a large amount of smoke which hampered immediate rescue efforts. The latest news available quotes a Russian government source as saying that the head of the suicide bomber has been found which will help in the investigation into today’s attack. Some reports claim that the bomber was dressed as an airport greeter which may have helped him escape scrutiny.
At this point no group has claimed responsibility for this attack, but it is highly likely that the Caucasus Emirate, often referred to as Chechen militants, are behind this attack. Just as with the March 2010 subway bombings, the perpetrators chose a soft target with minimal security rather than attempting to bring down an aircraft. As security improves in one venue, terrorist activity is often forced to strike somewhere else. Transportation hubs fit this target set as they have a large number of people present on any given day and can be difficult to secure.
Russia has been fighting militancy in the Caucasus region for several decades now and has made headway in creating a political balance of sorts that serves Moscow’s interest. Even in the wake of several high profile attacks Russia has not shifted its strategy and is unlikely to do so in the future. But Russia’s true challenge has yet to come – securing the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. The city of Sochi is located in the Caucasus region on the coast of the Black Sea and the Emirate has threatened to attack the venue recently. The attacks of the last year will certainly play a role in the upcoming 2012 election cycle as well as the preparations for the Olympics.