Sources in the Russian security community have told STRATFOR that one of the two suspected female suicide bombers believed involved in the crashes of two Russian airliners was Aminat Nagayeva, whose brother reportedly was a Chechen Islamist militant killed by Russian security forces in 2000. Investigators also have confirmed that Nagayeva bought a ticket for the Volgograd-bound flight at the last moment. Security sources said a second suspected bomber, a Chechen woman named Satsita Jebirkhanova, traded tickets to get on the Sochi-bound plane.
The two planes crashed within minutes of each other Aug. 24. Jebirkhanova's remains were found in tiny pieces and she appeared to have been close to an explosion, leading investigators to suspect that she was a suicide bomber. Nagayeva's severely damaged body was found in the plane's tail section — which was blown off by the blast — increasing the suspicion that she also was a suicide bomber.
Chechen Islamist militants have a history of using female suicide bombers, often the relatives of militants killed in combat or by Russian forces. Because a majority of them have been widows of militants, female suicide bombers are known as "black widows" in Russia. Russian intelligence recently reported that Shamil Basayev, a top Chechen Wahhabi warlord linked to al Qaeda, had formed a special militant unit consisting of widows. While Russian security agencies are aware that women are utilized as suicide bombers, police tend to pay less attention to women when screening possible suspects.
Security sources said neither airport security nor the transport police were alerted when the two Chechen women boarded their flights, and the sources say the women did not receive heavier scrutiny than other passengers — despite the fact that there is a proven history of Chechen women being used for suicide attacks in Moscow.