Russia has identified a 17-year-old widow of an Islamist militant as one of the Moscow suicide bombers, officials said Friday, with the country on alert after attacks in the capital and the Caucasus.
The National Anti-Terror Committee (NAK) said one of the two female suicide bombers who blew themselves up on the Moscow metro on Monday has been identified as Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova from Dagestan in the North Caucasus.
The Kommersant newspaper had earlier published a photograph of the baby-faced teenager in an Islamic headscarf with her late husband, Islamist militant Umalat Magomedov. Both were posing casually with pistols.
The news came as Russia remained tense after the metro suicide bombing killed 40, followed on Wednesday by a double suicide strike that killed 12 in a town in Dagestan close to Chechnya.
Officials support Newspaper claims
“One of the female suicide bombers, who blew herself up at the Park Kultury metro station, was Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova,” a NAK official told RIA Novosti and Interfax.
“She was born in 1992 and lived in the Khasavyurtsky region of Dagestan. The material has been sent to the investigative committee of Russian prosecutors,” the official added.
Kommersant newspaper said Abdurakhmanova was aged 17. The investigative committee of prosecutors also confirmed her identity in a website statement.
Her name Dzhennet, found among Muslim women in the Russian Federation, is derived from the Arabic word Jannat, meaning paradise.
The Islamist group “Emirate of the Caucasus”, which is waging an insurgency for independence from Moscow and an Islamic state in the North Caucasus, has claimed the Moscow attacks in a message from its leader.
Its leader Doku Umarov said in a video posted on the kavkazcenter.com website that he personally ordered the strikes.
Medvedev talking tough
President Dmitry Medvedev, who visited Dagestan the day before, said Friday that “the investigation is moving fairly quickly” and vowed to destroy the “bandit nests” of militants, news agencies reported.
He also urged tougher action against those deemed to have helped militants. “Anyone who assists (militants) – no matter what he does – cooks a soup or washes clothes – commits a full-blown crime.”
The death toll from the Moscow suicide bombings rose to 40 after a 51-year-old man wounded in the attacks died in hospital, officials said.
ITAR-TASS news agency said 84 people remained hospitalized. Russian television said some of the injured were in critical condition.
Deceased husband ‘Islamist rebel’
Kommersant said Abdurakhmanova’s husband Magomedov was a Dagestani Islamist rebel killed in a special operation last year.
The bombings sent a chill across Russia, recalling the string of suicide attacks carried out earlier in the decade by the so-called “Black Widows”, women found to have been relatives of men killed by Russian forces.
The Russian authorities have released grisly photographs showing the severed heads of the two women.
Investigators suspected that the second bomber could be a Chechen woman called Markha Ustarkhanova, the widow of another Caucasus militant, Kommersant reported.
Ustarkhanova is the widow of rebel Said-Emin Khizriyev, who was killed in October last year, Kommersant reported.
But a Chechen security force source told the RIA Novosti news agency Thursday that investigators concluded a photograph of Ustarkhanova did not match either bomber. The official statements provided no details on the second bomber.
Investigators have also released a security camera image of a suspected male organiser of the bombings to police in the North Caucasus, Gazeta.ru reported Friday, citing a source in the region’s security forces.
The indistinct photograph taken in the metro, published by Gazeta.ru, shows a tall, thin dark-haired man wearing a cap and blue jacket.
The women who staged the bombings are believed to have taken a bus from the Dagestan town of Kizlyar, where the second double suicide bombing killed 12 on Wednesday, reports have said.
The Interfax news agency quoted a source close to the investigation as saying that male accomplices had rented a flat in central Moscow where the explosive materials were kept.
It said that after being put together, the suicide belts were handed over to the two women close to Vorobyovye Gori metro station in southwest Moscow where they descended into the underground system to wreak carnage.