Russia Plane BombingsAugust 24, 2004 Overview • Two Russian civilian aircrafts on domestic flights originating from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport crashed within minutes of each other at approximately 2300 (local time) • According to open sources, the Russian Security Service, FSB, claim that one female suicide bomber on each plane was able to detonate an improvised explosive device (IED) in mid-air, killing all 90 passengers and crew. No information is available on how the IED was smuggled on the plane. No Americans were on the flights • “Islambouli Brigades” claimed responsibility for the attack • Russians officials are investigating two Chechen women as the main perpetrators
Russia Plane BombingsAugust 24, 2004 Modus Operandi • Media reports indicate two female terrorists boarded the aircrafts at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and may have smuggled explosives without detection or were able to detonate the explosives pre-placed on the plane by an insider (No M.O. has been confirmed) • Volga AviaExpress Flight 1303, a Tupelov-134 en route to Volgograd, was found in the Tula region, about 100 miles south of Moscow, after disappearing from radar at about 2056 hrs • Sibir Airlines Flight 1047, a Tupolev-154 bound for the Black Sea resort Sochi, disappeared from radar over the Rostov-on-Don region, about 500 miles south of Moscow near Russia's border with Ukraine, minutes after the first jet crashed • The Federal Security Service, or FSB, reported traces of the explosive Hexogen, commonly known as RDX, at both crash sites • Witnesses report seeing explosions in midair
Russia Plane BombingsAugust 24, 2004 Sibir Airlines Flight 1047 Volga AviaExpress Flight 1303 Destinations
Russia Plane BombingsClaim of Responsibility • “Islambouli Brigades” published a statement on a website claiming responsibility for the attack • “There will be, God willing, more waves until we humiliate the infidel state called Russia,” the group vowed • The Islambouli Brigades is named after Lt. Khaled Islambouli, the leader of a group of militant Islamists who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo in 1981 • No information is available to verify the credibility of the group or the statement’s claim • The group also claimed responsibility for the August 31 Moscow Subway Bombing
Russia Plane BombingsSuicide Bombing Suspects • The FSB suspects that two Chechen females, Amanat Nagayeva, 30, and Satsita Dzhebirkhanova, 37, carried out the attacks. Passports for Nagayeva and Dzhebirkhanova were found at the crash sites in the Tula and Rostov regions, but their remains have not been identified • The Moscow Times reported that Russian law enforcement are on-the-look-out for additional suspects including Roza Nagayeva (the Subway bombing suspect), Imam Nagayeva, and Maryam Taburova. The two plane bombing suspects shared a Grozny (Chechnya) apartment with Roza and Maryam. • The Moscow Times reports that four of the women are believed to have traveled to Moscow in August to carry out suicide attacks.
Russia Plane BombingsAugust 25, 2004 Warden Message Russian authorities have confirmed that two civilian airliners crashed at approximately 11:00 p.m. on August 24th in separate incidents. Cause of the crashes is under investigation. Both flights originated from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. One flight (Sibir #1047) was bound for Sochi and crashed in Rostov oblast, the other flight (Volga-Aviaexpress #1303) was bound for Volgograd and crashed near Tula. There is currently no confirmation that either of these crashes involved terrorism. In another incident earlier in the evening of August 24th, an explosive device went off at a bus stop on Kashirskoye Shosse in Moscow, injuring several people. This incident is also currently under investigation. While the causes of these incidents remain under investigation, American citizens in Russia should exercise caution and remain vigilant and aware of these heightened risks when planning use of or using any form of public transportation and should avoid large public gathering. American citizens traveling or living in Russia are advised that the potential for terrorist actions, including actions against civilians, is currently high, and will remain so particularly through the upcoming elections in Chechnya on August 29th. The US Embassy remains in close contact with both Russian and US authorities on this matter and will advise through this channel of any further related developments. As the Embassy continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens in Russia, it shares credible threat information through its website (www.usembassy.ru) and the consular information program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. Information is available from the Embassy's American Citizen Services unit at (095)728-5577 or email@example.com In addition travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328.
Suicide Bombing Strikes Moscow August 31, 2004 Overview • At approximately 2015 hrs (local time) a female suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive near the Rizhskaya (Riga) metro station in northeast Moscow • Various media reports confirm 10 casualties and 51 injuries; 49 were hospitalized (No AMCITS reported) • Police said the explosion was adjacent to the Rizhskaya (Riga) subway station and Krestovsky department store • The bomb caused significant facility damage to the metro station entrance - shattering doors and windows as well as igniting 2 vehicles • A female suicide bomber from Chechnya was identified in the attack
Suicide Bombing Strikes Moscow Modus Operandi Rizhskaya (Riga) metro station • According to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the bomber tried to enter the metro station but turned around after seeing two policemen near the entrance checking documents and searching bags. She then detonated the bomb in a crowd at Prospekt Mira - Peace Avenue • Moscow’s subway system could have been the intended target • The improvised explosive device contained up to 2.2 lbs. of explosives combined with several metal bolts to maximize casualties • FSB reported that the explosive used in the bombing was Hexogen, which is the same explosive that was used in the August 24 plane bombings
Suicide Bombing Strikes MoscowSuicide Bombing Suspect • Press reports claim that a 29 year-old Chechen woman, Roza Nagayeva, blew herself up outside of the Rizhskaya station • Roza is the sister of Amanat Nagayeva, the woman suspected of detonating the blast on board a Volga-AviaExpress Flight 1303, which crashed near Tula on August 24 • The Moscow Times reported that Russian law enforcement recently distributed photos of five suspected Chechen rebels including the two plane bombing suspects Amanat Nagayeva and Satsita Dzhebirkhanova; Imam Nagayeva; Maryam Taburova; and Roza Nagayeva • The Moscow Times reports that four of the women are believed to have traveled to Moscow in August to carry out suicide attacks • Roza shared an apartment in Groznyy (Chechnya) with her sister, Dzhebirkhanova and Taburova
Similarities Between the August Attacks • The three attacks all used female suicide bombers to target civilians • The successful, well-planned attacks indicate that the terrorists conducted significant pre-operational surveillance • The bombers used Hexogen, a solid, relatively safe and inexpensive explosive • The three terrorists were fully committed to martyrdom • They targeted various forms of public transportation, disrupting traffic entering/exiting Moscow
Possible Motives for the Attack • Retaliation attacks for the Kremlin-backed Chechen Presidential Elections held on August 29. Former Chechen President Akhmed Kadyrov, also backed by Russia, was assassinated by Chechen Rebels in October 2003 • Possibly to undermine stability in Chechnya, as Russian President Vladimir Putin refuses negotiation with Chechen Rebels • Russian officials claim a possible connection between Chechen Rebels and al-Qaeda; Putin has suggested the August 24 plane bombings are tied to international terrorism • No indicators suggest that Americans were targeted in the attacks
Increased Security Measures in Moscow • Police increased patrols and document checks at airports, subway stations, and train stations • Schools throughout Moscow increased security measures and provided uniformed guards. According to press reports, all 1,600 schools in the capital will soon be equipped with close-circuit cameras and permanent security guards • Airlines that regularly conduct flights between Moscow and the United States have increased security measures to test passengers and their luggage for explosives • Security has been tightened at facilities of Russia’s nuclear energy sector • The Moscow authorities have canceled all official and entertainment events planned for City Day, a holiday to mark the anniversary of the founding of Moscow which was set for September 4-5
Female Suicide Bombers “Black Widows” Who? • Chechen females who carry out suicide bombings missions in revenge or desperation for losing husbands, brothers or fathers who were affiliated with Chechen rebels • Woman ideologically indoctrinated by Chechen-based Islamic extremists • They may be socially marginalized or ostracized by family members • They may be motivated by financial compensation Why? • Chechen woman are able to move around more freely and inconspicuously than Chechen men • They have a tactical advantage by wearing long, loose clothing to hide weapons • Social customs may preclude male security guards from thoroughly searching Muslim woman
Chronology Major Bomb Blasts in Moscow Since 1999 • February 6, 2004 - A suicide bombing kills at least 39 people and injures more than 100 on an underground train in Moscow. Russia blames Chechens for the attack • December 9, 2003 - A suicide bomb attack kills at least six people opposite Moscow's Kremlin. Another 13 people are wounded • July 5, 2003 - Two female suicide bombers kill 15 people when they blow themselves up at an open-air rock festival at Moscow's Tushino airfield. Sixty are injured • August 31, 1999 - A bomb explodes in an underground shopping center just outside the walls of the Kremlin, injuring 20. Officials call it an act of terrorism but do not link it specifically to Chechen militants • September 9, 1999 - Bombs destroy apartment blocks in Moscow, Buynaksk and Volgodonsk, killing more than 200 people. Moscow blames the Chechens, who in turn accuse Russian secret services (Source: Reuters)
Russian School SiegeSeptember 1, 2004 Overview • 32 masked men and women with explosives and automatic weapons, seized a school in North Ossetia holding over 1,000 civilians hostages, including over 200 children • The attackers threatened to kill 50 children for every one of their own killed and 20 for every one wounded • The rebels provided a set of demands including the immediate withdrawal and end of operations of federal troops from Chechnya and the release of rebels arrested in raids on Ingushetia in June 2003 • The New York Times reported that the attackers claimed to be part of "The Second Group of Salakhin Riadus Shakhidi,“ affiliated to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev • 326 casualties, including 156 children. Over 727 wounded
Russian School SiegeSeptember 1, 2004 Modus Operandi • At approximately 0930 local time, between 32 terrorists stormed a Middle School in Beslan, North Ossetia, 10 km west of the border with Ingushetia, and opened fire in the courtyard as a ceremony marking the beginning of the school year was taking place (the strategic date ensured that many parents were inside along with teachers and children) • Reports say the terrorists arrived from neighboring Ingushetia in a stolen military truck. AFP reports that the rebels used renovation work as a cover to plant arms and explosives in the school under construction material prior to the attack • The terrorists forced over 1,000 (unconfirmed number) children and adults in to the school gym and wired the building and surrounding area with at least 15 IEDs while threatening to blow up the school if Federal forces tried to storm it • Regional health officials initially reported that four people were killed and 10 wounded in the early hours of the siege, including two police officers guarding the school who resisted the attackers
Russian School SiegeSeptember 1, 2004 1 – Main Entrance 2 - Area where gunfire began 3 - Hostages were being held in the school gym, which was reportedly packed with explosives and mines 4 - Side entrance 5 - There were reports of children being used as human shields at the back windows 6 - As the attack began a number of hostages hid in the boiler room and later escaped (Source: BBC News)
Russia School SiegeSeptember 1, 2004 Inside of the Gym • The hostages were forced in the center of the gym and were surrounded with mines and bombs connected together • Bombs were taped to the walls and suspended from the ceiling. Two larger devices have been placed in the basketball hoops • Periodically the attackers fire their guns to terrify the hostages and place children along the windows to act as human shields • The terrorists refused to provide water and food to the hostages • (Source: BBC News)
Russian School SiegeSeptember 2, 2004 Negotiations • The attackers reportedly passed a note to security forces demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya and the release of Ingush militants who were arrested in a June raid • The terrorists refused to negotiate with anyone but three men, including: North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov; Ingush President Murat Zyazikov; and Leonid Roshal, a doctor who negotiated with the Chechen rebels in the 2002 Dubrovka Theater seizure in Moscow • 26 hostages, including women and children, were released Tuesday morning due to efforts made by negotiators Militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at two cars that got too close to the school
Russian School Siege Storming the SchoolFriday, September 3, 2004 • 1249 – Russian officials made an agreement with the rebels to send in vehicles to remove dead bodies from the September 1 attacks • 1305 - Shortly after the vehicles arrived, terrorists began shooting at the Russian personnel approaching the bodies. At the same time some of the children began running from the gym and terrorists began shooting at them • 1320 - Two explosions were heard and the shooting intensified around the school. (Media reports suggest that fighting began after a bomb fell off a basketball hoop in the gym from a line of IEDS strung across the two hoops, and detonated). Russian security forces began to storm the school and several people were killed in the chaotic battle to free children, parents and teachers who had been held hostage for 53 hours. Several hundred hostages began to escape the school while gunfire was exchanged between soldiers and rebels • 1335 -Commandos used low-yield explosions to make a hole in a school wall to create another way out for hostages • 1630 – The hostage seizure crisis at the school appeared to be ending
Russia School SiegeStorming the SchoolFriday, September 3, 2004 Storming the School The Stand-off (Source: BBC News)
Russian School Siege Storming the SchoolFriday, September 3, 2004 • Immediately Following the Siege -According to media reports three hostage-takers are blocked up in the basement of the Beslan school, including the leader of the group, and an unknown number of hostages – some of them children (Interfax) • Ongoing -Security forces have launched an operation in downtown Beslan, North Ossetia, to track down the terrorists who may have escaped from the school building after the release of hostages. Some of the terrorists changed from their militants’ gear to civilian clothing and were able evade security forces • Ongoing – Local officials are searching for two female terrorists that escaped reportedly wearing “suicide belts” under their clothes in Beslan • Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky stated that 32 attackers had seized the school and 30 of them had been killed - one attacker was in custody - ten of them from Arab countries • Interfax reported more than 326 dead hostages were found in the gymnasium. An estimated 727 hostages were wounded, including approximately 156 children (No casualty count has been confirmed; RIA-Novosti reports that 200 are still missing)
Russian School SiegeSuspected Terrorists • The Russian authorities are blaming Chechen separatists, who have been fighting for independence from Moscow for the past decade • The New York Times reported that a spokesman for the attackers said they were part of "The Second Group of Salakhin Riadus Shakhidi." Salakhin Riadus Shakhidi is a battalion of suicide fighters formed and headed by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev • Itar-Tass reported that the attack had been planned by Shamil Basayev and led by field commander Magomet Yevloyev. The source said there was information that it had been financed by Abu Omar As-Seyf, who was believed to be al-Qaeda's representative in Chechnya • Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov has denied that his forces were involved in the siege, but did not rule out a “Basayev accomplice” as being responsible • Additional reports also suggest that Ingush rebels who attacked security forces in Ingushetia in June; or a North Ossetian-based rebel group may also be the suspected terrorists Shamil Basayev
Russia Public Announcement The US Department of State issued the following Public Announcement on September 3, 2004: This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens traveling or living in Russia that the potential for terrorist actions is high. Since August 24, 2004, Russia has experienced several terrorist incidents apparently linked to the ongoing hostilities in Chechnya, a republic of the Russian Federation. This Public Announcement expires on March 3, 2005. On August 24, two airplanes departing from Moscow to cities in southern Russia crashed within minutes of each other. The cause of the crashes, which claimed 90 lives, has been identified as explosives onboard the planes. On the same night, an explosion at a bus stop in Moscow injured several people. On August 31, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb outside a Moscow metro station killing ten people and injuring several dozen more. On September 1, a group of armed individuals believed linked to Chechen separatists seized a school in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, holding hostage several hundred students, parents and teachers. Acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage taking, have occurred in large Russian cities over the last several years. Bombings have occurred at Russian government buildings, hotels, tourist sites, markets, residential complexes, entertainment venues and on public transportation. See Next Slide to Continue….
Russia Public Announcement (Cont.) At this time, there is no indication that American citizens or identifiable American installations are being targeted. However, the possibility of an American citizen being a random victim of these attacks exists. American citizens traveling or living in Russia are advised that, currently, the potential for terrorist actions, including actions against civilians, is high and likely will remain so for some time. American citizens in Russia should exercise caution and remain vigilant and aware of these heightened risks when planning use of or using any form of public transportation. American citizens should also avoid large public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures. Due to continued civil and political unrest throughout much of the Caucasus region, the Department of State already warns U.S. citizens against travel to Chechnya and all areas that border it: North Sestina, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropoulos, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya and Kabardino-Balkariya. United states government personnel are prohibited from traveling to these areas, and American citizens residing in these areas should depart immediately as the safety of Americans and other foreigners cannot be effectively guaranteed. American citizens living in Russia or traveling there are strongly urged to register with the embassy or nearest consulate general. Registration will allow the embassy to provide direct information on the security situation as necessary. Information on registering with the embassy can be found at the embassy web www.usembassy.ru or at the Department of State's Consular Affairs website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/abroad_registration.html. As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328.
Useful Websites 1. U.S Department of State Consular Affairs, Russia Public Announcement http://travel.state.gov/travel/russia_announce.html 2. U.S. Department of State Consular Affairs, Consular Information Sheet, Russia http://travel.state.gov/travel/russia.html 3. Overseas Security Advisory Council, 2004 Crime and Safety Report, Russia http://www.ds-osac.org/view.cfm?key=7744564A40&type=3D13151D011112 4. U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia http://www.usembassy.ru
Contact Information Billy Alfano Overseas Security Advisory Council International Security Specialist for Western Europe (571) 345-2235 AlfanoWL@state.gov Editor’s Note: This report was derived from various media sources including Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, BBC News, CNN, Interfax, International Herald Tribune, Itar-Tass, Moscow Times, New York Times, and various unclassified Embassy reporting.