Terror in Moscow

Matt Gurney is a columnist and editor at Canada’s National Post. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney


Moscow, the economic and cultural center of the Russian Federation, has once again endured the wrath of terrorists. At just before eight o’clock Monday morning, local time, a female suicide bomber detonated herself inside a subway car, killing dozens. Less than an hour later, and several stops down the line, another bomber detonated her explosive vest, killing over a dozen more. Based on the best information available as of press time, 38 have died, and more than one hundred are wounded.

These latest blows at the heart of the Russian state have as yet not been claimed, but the methods and targets credibly point to the so-called Black Widows. These women, the female relations of Muslim rebels killed by the Russian military during numerous counter-insurgency campaigns in the Caucasus, seek revenge on Russia by striking at the heart of its cities. These attacks come two months after Dokka Umarov, the leading Islamic Chechen military leader, warned that despite Russia’s claims to have stamped out his forces, his martyrs would soon strike at Russia’s cities. Though Umarov has not yet been definitively linked to the bombings, it seems his warning had merit.

Russia’s entanglement with numerous restive groups, many of them Muslim, in its strategically important Caucasus region is a horribly complex affair. For centuries, Russia has dominated the region, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, its grip has become far more tenuous as numerous factions vie for power. Some seek independence from Moscow, others seek its support. It is rarely clear whether or not the anti-Russian forces are motivated by an Islamist’s zeal for jihad or a nationalist’s hope to see the Caucasus, particularly Chechnya, free of Russian domination. In truth, a mixture of both motivates the rebels (Umarov himself has said he was first compelled to take up arms against Russia not in the same of Allah, but of Chechnya). While their ideology is muddled, their goal is clear: terrorize Russia until their dream of an independent, Muslim Caucasus is achieved.

Russia has used brutal military force to keep the disparate ethnic groups that populate the Caucasus region in line, most famously by waging two wars to keep Chechnya, a small region administered by Russia, under Russian control. The wars were brutal, with both sides racking up an appalling record of human rights abuses. Now that Russia has achieved control over the region, however, it seems that the rebel remnants, unable to defeat the Russian military, now seek to spread terror and chaos amidst Russia’s greatest cities.

Russia, and Moscow in particular, is no stranger to terrorism. Beginning eleven years ago, terrorist bombings have rocked the country. In the fall of 1999, on the eve of Russia’s second war to pacify the Chechens, a wave of bombings ultimately killed almost 300. Fifty Islamic militants, including women, took 800 Moscow movie theater patrons hostage in 2002. A raid three days later by Russian Special Forces saw the militants wiped out with the loss of 130 hostages, many choked to death by the “knock out gas” pumped into the room before the attack. In 2004, while Russian forces were still fighting in Chechnya, female bombers blew up two passenger aircraft, killing 89. Dozens more died that year in a series of bomb attacks aimed at Russian trains and subways.

2004 was marked most painfully by the infamous attack by Islamic militants on a school in the small town of Beslan. After a horrific three day hostage crisis, Russian forces attacked the school, freeing over 800 hostages, at an atrocious cost of at least 330 dead, including perhaps as many as 180 of them children.

The attacks discussed above are mere samples of the attacks that Russia has sustained, focusing on those best known to the West. The death of dozens in Russia often warrants only the merest mention in Europe and North America; even yesterday’s devastating attacks in Moscow barely made top story on many news websites. Regrettably, due to conflicting sources, the high likelihood of media censorship and frequently adjusted official body counts, all of the above numbers should be considered suspect and approximate, but basically accurate.

Russia is a country very much in the midst of seeking a return to past glories, even at the expense of antagonizing potential partners like the United States. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has sought to reestablish Russia’s preeminence in the world by backing the Iranian nuclear program, rebuilding Russia’s military capability, forging friendships with anti-U.S. dictators all over the world and reasserting Russian sovereignty over vast swathes of disputed Arctic territory. It is simply not conceivable that Russia will not respond massively to this latest attack, which makes the typical Western disinterest in Russian domestic affairs all the more perplexing.

Indeed, both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, considered by many observers to be the real man in charge of Russia, have warned of swift reprisals. The Caucasus region could be on the verge of yet another humanitarian disaster. Medvedev has promised that the terrorists would be pursued and defeated. Putin was blunter, saying simply that those responsible would be destroyed. This does not bode well for those unlucky enough to be pinned between the two warring sides.

These attacks, and whatever retaliatory action Russia chooses to launch, constitutes a whole other front in the war against terror, one that is oft-overlooked because the Russians continue to consider the NATO allies — natural partners for Russia in the fight against militant Islam — as the more serious enemy. It is bitterly ironic that even while Russia counts its dead in the wake of this latest attack by Islamists, it continues to offer diplomatic and technical support to the Iranian drive to develop nuclear weapons. Yesterday, Muslim fanatics killed dozens. In the years to come, they may well kill millions. The Russian government should choose this moment to reconsider its own indirect support of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are bankrolled by Tehran while Russia gives Iran all the diplomatic cover it needs by stymieing American and European efforts to level tough sanctions against the Ahmadinejad regime.

In the days to come, Russia will bury its dead, tighten security and seek someone to destroy for this atrocity. Whether or not it will recognize that itsr true enemy lays to its south, and not across the ocean in America, remains to be seen. Given the past behavior of this regime, however, it seems likely that Moscow is willing to grapple with more than one enemy at a time.

  • http://www.youtube.com/pizzaboyserious Jason Gray

    the religion of peace strikes again.

    • BS1977

      Say a prayer for those who were killed and a prayer for those maimed and suffering…some for the rest of their lives….Whenever an attack like this happens I always think of the 9/11 mass murder….FDNY…..in memory of your sacrifices!!!!! This is what the West faces….but we are FOOLS with our PC immigration, our multicult bending over backwards to accomodate illegal aliens, jihadists and terrorists in our society. We are IDIOTS. Like England. Look at Londonistan now. We are FOOLS.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

    One day, everyone in the western world will wake up and arselifters will have hell to pay.

  • Alex Kovnat

    I get the impression we have the kind of war where its a shame the beligerents can't both lose.

  • Al Hill

    Brace yourself World, Islam will kill you until you admit and submit to the "religion of peace."

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonPappas JasonPappas

    In the 1980s we were ignorant of Islam when we supported the Muslims in Afghanistan. Let's not make that mistake again. Russia, Israel and India are on the front line in the war against Islam. Let's give them our support.

  • Jacob Wilson

    Russia will take action against the Islamic cities. There will be no collateral damage, just the total destruction of millions of Muslims. China and Russia don't have an ACLU or bleeding liberal leftists who protect their enemies.

    Putin and his puppet, Medvin will use their newly armed forces to send their Muslim populations to Mohammed's paradise.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      The only problem with that statement is that they didn't do anything after Beslan and they didn't do anything after the Moscow theatre hostage incident. Certainly, they had a war a Chechnia. But they are have been buddies with Iran and other arselifter countries.

      I'm not sure about China either. They may have taken some action against arselifters in their western most province but, in 2009, the government told the Chinese populace to not celebrate the Year of the Pig openly so as to avoid giving offence. Which is totally bizarre. The don't have any arselifters in eastern provinces, where most of the Chinese are. So its just inexplicable.

      • Arnold Wolf

        Gary what you don't know is that Russia killed everyone in the Moscow theater including their own people. Russia has murdered tends of thousands of Muslims in Chechnia.

        Their buddies in Iran and the Arab world are safe as long as they don't strike at Russia for Putin is looking out for his take of the spoils of war. You also have no idea about China for they have been attacked by Islam but no more. China quietly killed off entire cities of Muslims. There as so many humans living in China that a few hundred thousands are meaningless to the Chinese.

        Remember that these civilizations don't care about human life anymore than they do about cockroaches. Their system of justice is not found in court rooms with civil liberties for those who attack their country.

        If Obama was not Islamic but a strong leader like Pershing or Patton, the Islamics would not attack here either.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/imnokuffar imnokuffar

      We hope !

  • tanstaafl JW

    Remember the angels of Beslan.

  • Pete

    Why are we taking their word for it and calling them "Muslims"? This is political correctness gone wild, folks! "Muslim" means "one who submits," and they (mistakenly) feel that they submit to the One, True God (which Christians worship.) Indeed, these people do not submit to God but to the devil but when we call them Muslims were are only letting them dictate the language of this most-serious contest. They are Mohammedans — followers of Mohammed, the 7th-century false prophet and that is what we must call them. For centuries, this is what they were called when Christendom was winning the war against this abomination of a religion. Now, we have blindly accepted their term for something which signifies implicit acceptance. My God bless and have mercy on Holy Russia!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      I call them arselifters because of the way they pray.

  • Ze-ev ben Yehudah

    We will exterminate those islamic terrorists from the face of the earth;
    the Russian leaders speaking on the media,and I can have peace with that.
    But the same Russian leaders help build a nuclear plant in Iran.Just to
    mention one of the aid they get from Russia.Oh Sorry Iran is only
    treathening the Jewish state of Israel to be wiped from the face of the
    earth along with every Jew in the world.He even had the gustspha to say,
    that hopefully all the Jews would go to Israel so to genocide them will be
    much easier!!.Oh and another thing I noticed,all the [Europian ] leaders
    ondemned the terrorist act in the most furious ways.But then they were
    dead silent when just the other day Hamas terrorists rockets killing a
    human being in Isreal. I lost count but it must have been thousand and
    something rocket that exploded on Isreals ground.But to all the antisemites
    on this earth, I know they will get what is coming to them.
    In the mean time I will still eat my matsot and celebrate Pesach.
    And I hope you'll do the same.

  • gama

    Some day the Chechens will set off an Iranian nuke in Russia and if Russia decides to strike Iran it will find itself faced with S400s that they supplied Iran with.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      Ah, but will they actually work?

  • rbla

    Yes the Russians are quite bad in their cozying up to the Iranian mullahs. But it must be said that much of their hostility toward the US is based on our own egregious policies. For years we have not been supportive of the integrity of the Russian state with respect to Muslim separatists in the Caucasus. Even worse was Clinton's criminal war against the Serbs, Russia's traditional clients and fellow Othodox Christians. With no strategic interests at stake, Clinton devastated Serbia in order to create new Muslim polities in Europe.

    • cochavi1

      I disagree with the last sentence. NATO, US and Britain had strategic interests at stake – bases in the Balkans and the relationships with OPEC and S Arabia. The Saudis were given a free hand to 1) spread Islam using the 'freedom fighters' in Bosnia, Chechnia, etc., 2) 'convert' the Balkan Muslims from 'generic' Islam to Wahhabi Islam.

      The pattern is clear that the US policy in much of the world is designed to keep Saudi Arabia happy. It is a strategic goal, one also with immense financial benefits for individuals who carry it out in different ways – including lobbyists, university boards, and State Dept officials allowing many thousands of students into the US to intimidate and bully on behalf of Islam.

  • Seek

    Females are every bit as lethal as males. The terror attacks on Moscow subways demonstrates this once again. I never bought into that crapola about "sugar and spice and all that's nice."

    • xman

      They're potentially more lethal than males, as they arouse less suspicion. The PC incorrect amongst us are at least suspicious of Muslim males from 15 to 50 years old, but how many of us are suspicious of females, under-15s, or the over-50s? Not enough.

  • BS1977

    Every week another bombing..Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, now Russia….Muslims killing each other or anyone else who happens to be unlucky enough to be present when the bomb explodes…. in a series of mindless, insane terror attacks. There seems to be no strategy, no reason, no outcome….just more mass murder, maiming and suffering inflicted on innocent people in trains, markets, schools and businesses. I long for the day when this scourge on planet earth is totally forgotten, when this madness disguised as a "religion" is completely gone…..like the worship of the pharoahs of ancient Egypt……only referenced in history books. It is a mental illness on a mass scale, a cult of death, a medieval Dark Age remnant that will eventually fade out, but it could take several more centuries…..Of course the West could hasten this process by the use of mass military force…Of course, the liberal PC hand wringers would not like that.

  • ÉamonnDublin

    A notably sad and most disappointing, albeit not even slightly surprising fact, is that the Irish media has all but ignored the words "Muslim" and/or "Islam" in its coverage of this latest Islamist atrocity. How does the Irish media manage to allow its cowardice to impinge on its coverage whilst still pretending to do its job? Well, it uses guff such as "militants from the Northern Caucasus"!! Have you ever heard anything like it? I would imagine that, prior to their commencing to scratch around for an alternative to "Islam/Muslim", these yellow-bellied narcissists had barely even heard of the "Northern Caucasus". Ladies and Gentlemen: IT WAS MUSLIMS! And, no, "they" are not ALL terrorists – but I don't hear much protest from the "moderates". Éamonn, Dublin, Ireland.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      Given that arselifters are now infesting Ireland, the media there seems to have gone all PC.

  • DerBlutarsch

    funny, no mention in this site about the christian crazies who were targeting police officers and then wanted to attack the funeral procession… because Jesus told them it was the right thing to do.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ZionSion Beth

      Several posts here addressed to DerBlutarsch:

      Those who call themselves Christians….while carrying out violence….are liars. The reason? ….from the first page of Matthew to the last page of Revelation – there is not one sentence, not one Christian Scripture, that teaches humans (or commands) to carry out violence. Quite the opposite is found.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ZionSion Beth

    And until you can produce those Scriptures that teach humans to be violent with each other DerBlutarsch?……you will remain a liar (don't let the bluntness offend you, but rather, – that you've have been led to believe in such a lie) You have to obey the commands of Christianity – in order to be a Christian (see below).

    Muslims (sorry Pete…things are complicated enough) can not say the same about their Koran. There are MANY commands in that book calling for vicious violence against "the unbelievers"…."the pagans"…."the infidels" using phrases like "fight and slay them" … "through out the earth"…."they shall be seized and slain without mercy" (just to name a few)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ZionSion Beth

    Teachings are important for what we teach our young – because we'll all reap what is sown.

    Rom 13:9 Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Or…….we can continue to let them have free access to the Koran.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ZionSion Beth

    You decide DerBlutarsch – which is better to teach? (to say neither – is not a choice because the massive number of those who choose to believe (in whatever) is proof)

    Either make the tree good – or make it evil. That's our only choice. (and it's a bit late in this dangerous game to be learning these things)

  • ÉamonnDublin

    Dear "DerBlutarsch", Perhaps you hadn't noticed: the comments are as a result of the Islamist atrocity in Moscow. This has nothing whatsoever to do with what Christians have or have not done in past millennia. Does the fact that a Christian killed somebody mean that this gives the right to a Muslim to blow innocent men, women and children into pieces of skin, hair and blood? Come, on, get a grip on reality! Éamonn, Dublin, Ireland.

  • BS1977

    can't we all just get along?

  • ÉamonnDublin

    To BS1977: Well, yes, it would be nice, wouldn't it? But the problem is, the Islamists keep telling you loud and clear: "we are going to take over Western civilization and rule you all with Shari'a law". Now, go look up "Shari'a Law" and see how nice that would be. Or perhaps you would prefer not to "get along" with those who make such threats! Éamonn, Dublin, Ireland.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

      You'd better start resisting before its too late!

      http://islammonitor.org/index.php?option=com_cont

    • BS1977

      Hey, I was quoting Rodney King….everyone who says that is being sarcastic. Only the most naive liberals think of negotiations, road maps, accords, agreements and peace talks with people who are preparing to nuke us.

  • steinhardt

    Putin's government and the Islamic terrorists do share one thing in common, they don't like democracy, and they don't like the U.S.