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January 27, 2011

Moscow seeks Pak help in suicide attack probe


January 27, 2011

LAHORE: The Russian authorities, investigating the January 24 suicide bombing targeting the Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow that killed 35 people, have sought intelligence sharing from their Pakistani counterparts to explore a suspected link of Pakistani and Afghan militant groups, operating along the Durand Line, to the terror groups in North Caucasus, which might have helped in carrying out the suicide bombings.
According to well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the main domestic security agency of Russia, which also deals with counter-terrorism and surveillance, the suicide bombers who have repeatedly targeted Russia in the recent past, were most likely trained by the al-Qaeda network on the Pak-Afghan tribal belt, which is also home to Chechen, Uzbek as well as Tajik militants. The Russian authorities have informed their Pakistani counterparts that despite the US drone-attacks in the Pak-Afghan tribal belt, the training infrastructure remains operational.
According to the intelligence information, the Russian authorities have shared with their Pakistani counterparts, the Chechen militants who are suspected of carrying out suicide bombings in Russia, are being trained by the same al-Qaeda-run jehadi network which is imparting terror training to hundreds of other foreigners for launching Mumbai-style attacks in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Three key anti-Russian commanders who are currently operating from the Pak-Afghan tribal belt and masterminding terrorist operations in Russia include Abu Haneefah, the commander of the Chechen, Turkish Kurds and Bosnians militants; Abu Akaash, who commands the Uzbek, Tajik and other Central Asians militants and Abu Nasar, who is the commander of the Uighur militants. Many of these militants are reportedly travelling to Pak-Afghan tribal belt via Turkey and Iran. The Federal Security Service of Russian

Federation believes that the Moscow airport bombing was carried out by the Islamic Caucasian Emirate, which has attacked many cities in the past decade, challenging Russia’s sovereignty in Caucasian region. The Chechen militants are spread out in the mountains of North Caucuses and in Dagestan and are being directed by the al-Qaeda leadership from its stronghold in Pakistan.
Led by Doku Umarov, the Islamic Caucasian Emirate, which had claimed responsibility for the March 2010 terrorist attack in Moscow, wants to exploit the separatist struggles throughout the North Caucasus, which is popularly known as the war in Chechnya, as the rallying point and springboard for a broader strategic jehad against Russia and the states of Central Asia. Though extensive battles in Chechnya ended years ago, following two devastating wars between Russia and Chechen separatists, the militants have continued to carry out suicide bombings and other terror attacks across Russia, targeting subways, buses and trains.
Diplomatic circles in Islamabad say this is not for the first time that the Russian authorities have approached their Pakistani counterparts in connection with terrorism-related investigations. The Russians had earlier contacted Islamabad following the March 29, 2010, suicide bombing in Moscow which had killed 38 people. A day after the attack, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had stated on March 30, 2010, that militants operating on the Pakistani border may have helped organise suicide bombing. Lavrov did not mention al-Qaeda but said the bombers may have had links to militants on the Pak-Afghan border. When asked if there could have been any foreign involvement in the attack, Lavrov said, “I do not exclude that. We all know that in the Afghan-Pakistan border, in the so-called no-man’s land, the terrorist underground is very well entrenched. We know that many terrorist attacks, not only in Afghanistan, but in other countries too, are plotted in that area,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

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