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Dispatch: Caucasus Leader Claims Moscow Airport Attack

4 MINS READFeb 8, 2011 | 23:04 GMT
Analyst Ben West examines Northern Caucasus leader Doku Umarov's claim of responsibility for the attack on Moscow's Domodedovo Airpot - a claim that cannot be taken at face value. Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy. Caucasus militant leader Doku Umarov released a statement Feb. 7 in which he claimed responsibility for the Jan. 24 attack on Domodedovo airport in Moscow. This video is preceded by an earlier video on Feb. 4 which also featured Doku Umarov and two other men. Doku Umarov in that video claimed that one of the men he was with was the suicide bomber that carried out the operation on Jan. 24. While these claims certainly do add a new wrinkle to the Russian investigation into the suicide bombing, it doesn't necessarily provide any conclusive evidence as far as who carried out this attack. The attack that Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for happened on Jan. 24 when a suicide bomber detonated a vest in the arrivals hall in Domodedovo airport in Moscow, killing over 30 people. On Feb. 4 about two weeks after the attack in Moscow Doku Umarov was featured in a video in which he was seen with two other men. One of which he said was being prepared for a special mission in Moscow. Then on Feb. 6, Russian investigators came out and said that they believe the man who carried out the attack at Domodedovo airport was from Ingushetia. Finally on Feb. 7, another video featuring Doku Umarov came out this time with him by himself in which he fairly explicitly claimed responsibility for the attack on Jan. 24. 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. STRATFOR's current assessment of the militant threat for the Northern Caucasus and Russia is that they've split and that individually each district poses a threat, but without Doku Umarov as its head they don't have the ability to coordinate these resources and pose a significant threat to Moscow. But the revelation of this latest video means that STRATFOR is going to have to take a closer look at Umarov and the role he plays in the militant structure in the Northern Caucasus.
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