Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for last month’s deadly bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in a video posted online late Monday. The video of Russia’s most-wanted criminal was the second to surface in the past few days, stoking fears of further acts of terrorism by radical Caucasus groups.
Mr. Umarov said in the video that he ordered the Jan. 24 attack on Russia’s largest airport, which killed 36 people and injured 180, and warned that more bombings will follow if Russia does not grant the Caucasus independence.
"You see this special operation carried out by my order ... more special operations will be carried out in the future," Mr. Umarov said in the video, as translated from Russian by the Associated Press.
Umarov is the leader of Caucasus Emirate, a self-proclaimed Islamic state in the North Caucasus that has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and Russia. He is wanted in Russia for kidnapping, treason, and homicide, and has taken responsibility for several large-scale terrorist attacks including the Moscow metro bombings last year, which killed 40.
STRATFOR Dispatch: Caucasus Leader Claims Moscow Airport Attack
Doku Umarov has an interest in attaching himself to this attack on Jan. 24. First of all, the attack was fairly successful; it did kill a number of foreigners and Russians, and in one of Moscow’s larger airports. Doku Umarov has been weakened considerably since his August 2010 fallout with other militant leaders from the Caucasus. Russian authorities dealt a fairly large blow to Doku Umarov when they caused basically a split within his organization, the Caucasus Emirate. Umarov has a lot to prove to the public. he wants to show that the August 2010 fallout didn’t completely incapacitate him and if he can prove that he actually was the one who ordered the Jan 24 attack, it would be a pretty strong indication that he wasn’t as week as we thought he was.
However, at STRATFOR we’re pretty skeptical of this video. We’re not convinced that it necessarily proves that Doku Umarov did order the Jan. 24 attack even though he claims it. First of all, Doku Umarov isn’t really known to work with militants from Ingushetia, he himself has more frequently in the past worked with militants from Chechnya and Dagestan. He doesn’t necessarily have as close of links to Ingushetia. So the fact the prime suspect in the Jan. 24 bombing is Ingushetian leads us to become skeptical of the connections between Doku Umarov and the bomber. Additionally Umarov has made false claims before. Back in 2009 he claimed responsibility for an explosion at a dam in Russia. However we later learned that the explosion was due to mechanical failure and not terrorist activity. So Umarov does have a reputation for making false claims so we have to be pretty skeptical of this claim.