Cultural Revolutions

Not Necessarily Muslim

A January 24 bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport left 35 dead and scores injured, as the Russian capital’s transportation system was targeted by terrorists for the second time in less than a year.  The most likely culprits are Muslim terrorists from the North Caucasus who had struck Moscow’s metro system in March 2010.  In the aftermath of the bombing, a theory (“versiya”) explaining the attack emerged that linked the bombing to vengeance by Islamic groups for past Russian actions, along with a typically Byzantine plot connected to criminalized business and politics.

According to eyewitness testimony pieced together by Russian sources, a man and a woman carrying a suitcase entered Domodedovo at an unguarded entrance near the greeting area for arriving passengers.  In one account, the woman opened her suitcase and detonated a bomb.  But several other accounts have the man shouting, “I will kill you all!” before detonating an explosive belt on his person.  The focus of the investigation became the severed head of the dead man.  Russian media published grisly pictures, while ethnologists and forensics experts were consulted in hopes of determining the nationality of the attacker, who was likely not an Arab (as initially reported), but, as some experts saw it, had a “Slavic appearance.”

Investigators traced the bombing trail back to a December...

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