Chechen rebel chief Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for last month’s bombing at Moscow’s main airport that killed 36 people, after an earlier warning to make this year a year of “blood and tears.”
“This operation was carried out on my order,” he said in a video posted late on Monday on the Kavkaz Centre Web site, referring to the Jan. 24 suicide attack at Moscow Domodedovo Airport.
Umarov said he was acting in the name of Allah and the aim of the audacious attack was to set up an independent Islamic state in the North Caucasus.
He said it was also to avenge Russian “crimes” in the region and underlined that the blast was purposely staged at the international arrivals hall as the aim was to kill foreigners.
Rights activists have long criticized tactics in raids against militants in the North Caucasus — known by the authorities as special operations — for being overly brutal and targeting civilians as well as suspects.
Last week, the self-proclaimed leader of the so-called “Caucasus Emirate” — which has sought to unite various groups in Russia’s Caucasus and establish Islamic rule — had vowed in a chilling video that he would cause mayhem in Russia this year.
In the earlier video, released late on Friday on the Web site of the group’s mouthpiece, Umarov warned Moscow: “God willing, we will make this year a year of blood and tears for you.”
“You better come to your senses and think,” Umarov said, urging Russians to pressure their leaders into letting the region go.
He said the attacks would stop after Russia withdrew from the region.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said giving up the Caucasus and negotiating with “terrorists” was not an option.
Russian security officials have said the Domodedovo bombing attack was carried out by a 20-year-old from one of the North Caucasus republics who was high on drugs.
A Russian security source had told Interfax news agency that the young man, Magomed Yevloyev, was the son of a school teacher and a bus driver and came from the restive Ingushetia region, bordering Chechnya.
Attacks on officials and police are a daily occurrence in the North Caucasus and after a lull of several years, suicide attacks returned to Moscow in March last year when two female suicide bombers from the region killed 40 and wounded dozens on the underground during morning rush hour.