Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Are Chechens responsible for the Moscow subway bombings?

If two bombs went off on the New York subway, and if three dozen people died as a result, al-Qaeda would certainly be the first suspect. Al-Qaeda, however, would not be the only suspect. The world is full of crazy people -- we saw the damage that homegrown terrorists can do in Oklahoma City, and recent arrests suggest they haven't gone away. Before the police started investigating every vaguely Arab-looking person who rides the Lexington Avenue Express, they would -- I'd hope – also consider other kinds of evidence.

Will they consider other kinds of evidence in Moscow? The bombs that went off on the Moscow subway yesterday were truly diabolic. Both of the stations – Lubyanka, underneath the old KGB headquarters, and Park Kultury -- are major transfer points, very central, and heavily used. The bombs went off in the morning, when those trains are usually so packed that it can be difficult to breathe. The number of casualties – 39 dead, dozens wounded - is extremely high, but given the timing, the number could have been even higher.

Of course, it is not surprising that suspicion should immediately fall on Chechen suicide bombers, and it is entirely possible that the two Chechen women identified are indeed the culprits. Chechen women have blown themselves up, or tried to do so, several times in the recent past. There were women involved in the horrific siege of a Moscow theater in 2002, and two women were held responsible for airplane bombs that went off separately and almost simultaneously in 2004.

Still, the speed with which this conclusion was reached yesterday struck me as odd.

How could police know immediately who was wearing a suicide belt on a crowded subway car? Wouldn’t the forensic evidence take more than a few hours to sort out? Although police have said they suspect a connection to the Northern Caucuses, they haven’t yet given any specific links, and no groups took immediate responsibility for the attack.

Terrorism can lead to wrenching political changes, as we know in the U.S. as well as in Spain, the UK and elsewhere. Russia is no different: A frightening bombing campaign across Russia in 1999 was blamed on Chechen terrorists, and thus led to the re-opening of the country’s war against Chechnya, which in turn helped bring the current Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to power. Yet in subsequent years, a number of oddities about those 1999 bombs have led many to question whether all of them were really planned in Chechnya and executed by Chechens. Maybe these are conspiracy theories, but a lot of people continue to believe them.

Given all of that background, I do hope the Moscow police will present the public with hard evidence that two Chechen women really were responsible for this truly grotesque attack, before blaming the incident on North Caucasian terrorists. I also hope that that Russian politicians will take hard evidence into account, too, when planning their response. If those explosions had taken place in New York City, I would expect nothing less.

By Anne Applebaum  | March 30, 2010; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Applebaum  | Tags:  Anne Applebaum  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Who can we trust?'
Next: President Obama hears the Tea Party


The article states:
"I also hope that that Russian politicians will take hard evidence into account, too, when planning their response. If those explosions had taken place in New York City, I would expect nothing less."


Oh really. We had explosions in NYC, and we looked the other way, spending about 4 million on the 9/11 commission or less than 10 percent of the 800 million Ken Starr spent examining the Monica Lewinsky incident.

In Moscow, who knows if they were Chechen, or others. Does it matter? Drug and direct someone to blow themselves up a public place and then reduce the rights of millions in the encompassing society.

How many times will we run this drill before we see what's going on.

Posted by: lwfl | March 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Apple bum, why are you writing stuff you know nothing about? Please stick to your usual flair for embellishment e.g. your "Polish foreign minister", your life as an aristocrat in Poland, but really nobody care about your gibberish writings.

Posted by: Mickey2 | March 30, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Good, careful and diplomatically put intervention. Thanks, as always, for the thoughtful voice.

Posted by: antypasa | March 30, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Metro officials apparently believe the Moscow bombing was linked to the recent breakthrough in nuclear disarmament between Russia and America:

"Lee said the transit agency will maintain the heightened security 'at least through the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit scheduled in Washington in a few weeks'"

No good deed goes unrevenged.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 30, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

What a load of twaddle. This attack is clearly within the operational capabilities and preferences of the Salafists and have appeared in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan with frightening regularity. Hopefully Mr. Putin and the Russian security forces will exterminate Ms. Applebaum's precious Chechen friends.

Posted by: garrafa10 | March 30, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Why do people commenting here assume they know all about things they couldn't possibly be familiar with? I find that projection of ignorance fascinating.

The Russian security services have a long track record of official lies, torture and human rights violations from the Soviet period. In the first post-Soviet skirmishes with Chechnia, their brutality and viciousness in the North Caucasus were paralleled only by Chechen cruelty and viciousness itself.

Those writing here would do well to remember that the ancestor of Russia's security services had most of the entire Chechen nation deported to Central Asia in 1944 in the course of a few nights. Many Russians have forgotten or ignore this; no Chechen has of course.

The Russians would do well (not that they will) to remember that the Spanish Government immediately blamed Basque separatists for the 2003 explosions in Madrid, to remove attention from the fact that Spain was a part of the 'Coalition of the Willing' in Iraq, only to be confronted with evidence collected by the authorities themselves that strongly implicated Al-Qaeda instead, not the Basques. A few days later that Government was voted out of power by the Spanish electorate. Even democracies fall to the temptation of arranging current events to suit their overall political aims.

Posted by: cbl55 | March 30, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Well, let's see what type of hard evidence we have.
We have two bodies still wearing explosive gear, nationalities of which can be easily identified.
We have 100% of country population having no doubt of what have happned and who did that.
We have Doku Umarov publically threatening to bring war to russian cities.
We do not have names yet - but we will get them soon.

Question remians - what was the reason to write this article ? Hmmm...

Posted by: georgeyablokov | March 30, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The author's questions (How could police know immediately who was wearing a suicide belt on a crowded subway car?) reveal lack of experience in on-the-scene reporting on terrorism and crime in Russia.
One can identify with a fair degree of certainty of who was the suicide bomber by looking at remains (bomber's head is typically detached from the remants of the body and there are other signs too, but I would not dwell on them).
Also from knowing the name of the train in one of the blasts, it is fairly easy to deduce that it was a modern train equipped with surveillence cameras sharp enough.
North Caucasian-based groups have been responsible for the vast majority of terrorist attacks in Russia and for all of the deadliest ones - so it is fair to suspect they might be involved, especially if they have been warned that these groups have been planning such an attack - but of course to know all that one must at least wait to read what people on the ground report in morning papers rather than hastily post a blog entry.
Finally, I have a question - if authorites said they suspect a link to North Caucasus - why do you twice twice refer to Chechens - isn't that a premature assumption on your part or do you know more than you are writing here?

Posted by: shaumyantsi | March 30, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Contempt prior to investigation may blame anyone including al-queada. We can see certain patterns of this diabolical attack which at the least mimic past atrocities or crimes against humanity. As you say, it's all in the timing just like the London bombings.

One failure by Moscow was not to shutdown the transit system after the initial blast. We have known since 09/11 multiple coordinated targeted attacks will occur simultaneously. Seems Russia failed to shutdown their Metro giving the bad guys 45 minutes to the second attack.

There is a lot more to be said Applebaum but to me the need for security is greater than sensationalism to me.

Posted by: truthhurts | March 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

That world wide expert on everything, self appointed Applebaum
hopes the moscow police do this and that...because they might be wrong.

(Chechen violence doesn't help Israel's case, you see, won't get the world to bomb Iran, change the subject for the new roiling disgust of Netanyahu, won't damamge Putin, whom zionists like the addled Applebaum constantly blast.)

Much of the world, if they were looking elesewhere, might consider Israel, for example..those who think 9/11 and other such were the work of Jews.
And then there's the timing. There'sthe timing.

BUT THE BEST PART OF THIS COLUMN, with it's claim of expertise no intelligence expert would touch, ends


When does this kind of stuff, self aggrandisement, narsissism, approach a mental problem?

Posted by: whistling | March 30, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The caution to "get evidence" is a little too close to "let the lawyers argue this in a court of law" - the idiotic "law enforcement mentality" that the US is trapped in too much.
The Russians have a little more latitude, luckily for them.
And georgeyablokov posts that they have bodies dressed as Chechens, they have a threat from a Chechen leader of more attacks, and soon...they will have the names.
Then the Russians will be "good to go" on whatever reprisals they will take, including on Chechen women since the Chechen terrorists have made their women now as suspect of being dangerous as the men.
They Russians also have the ability to restrict "free movement" around Russia far more than we would tolerate in America. They don't have their full Soviet-era internal passport system in place - but have the ability to challenge travellers or residents - who are you, why are you going to Sverdlosk? What job do you have, give us a list of friends and relatives you will be seeing there..and of course you will wait while we check this all out..

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | March 30, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The question, Anne Applebaum, is why do you continue to defend child rapists? Please answer this question.


Posted by: popopo | March 30, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

truthhurts - "One failure by Moscow was not to shutdown the transit system after the initial blast. We have known since 09/11 multiple coordinated targeted attacks will occur simultaneously. Seems Russia failed to shutdown their Metro giving the bad guys 45 minutes to the second attack."

The idea that shutting down major transportation systems is an excellent way of "making people safer" is fallacious.

If some Muslim detonates a suicide bomb in an airport terminal or rail station, all shutting the whole system down does is generate thousands of stranded passengers waiting in, or outside such terminals - for the system to restart.
Making juicy targets for the Islamoids as they cluster in the thousands, waiting.
It also maximizes disruption from the Muslim jihadi's attack - as they hope for. Then their terror goes from directly affecting a few hundred up to directly affecting millions of citizens.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | March 30, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible that some of the Bush leftovers at the CIA somehow plotted and planned these bombings to drive Russia into our anti-terrorist fraternity?

Posted by: kinkysr | March 30, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Are Chechens responsible for the Moscow subway bombings?

Why no, not at all... obviously it the work of some Waco Whackos, perhaps from Canada, like those rounded up in Michigan...

Posted by: AlongTheWatchTowers | March 30, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Usually i like your articles but this time i have to call BS and call you an Idiot.

What's Your theory the Easter Bunny perhaps?

Posted by: scon101 | March 30, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell, 100% of the people who blow themselves up to make a point fit a very specific profile. Others occasionally try to make a point by blowing things up, but they try to save themselves and get away, which by the way was the case in Oklahoma City. The confusion in Spain can be understood given that the bombers had an MO that better matched with ETA - they didn't blow themselves up.

It seems reasonable that the perpetrators are likely to be from the groups that threaten this type of action and have history of doing so.

It seems very far fetched to assume that the government of Russia is involved in this. Yet, Applebaum seems to be much more open to that alternative than to the Chechen connection, which puts her squarely in the same group as the nuts who think the US government had a hand in 9/11.

At the very least it shows that she is a hypocrite. She interpretes everything through the prism of her own prejudices. I haven't heard her talking about the possibility that the Spanish government might have organized the bombings to get reelected.

Even if you think that Putin is a monster, you should realize that he has 100% control of the power in Russia. He does not need to kill his own people to hold on to that power. On the other hand, this act seems to have helped certain figures from the North Caucauses as they are back in the news along with stories from the likes of Applebaum about how bad Putin is.

Posted by: vak1 | March 30, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

ChrisFord1- I disagree with your argument as the concept of planning for terrorist multiple simultaneous attacks has already been proven valuable in saving lives and property. So what if people are inconvenienced, the goal is to keep those commuters alive.

Posted by: truthhurts | March 30, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Within 24 hours of the disarmament announcement two bombs go off in Russia. Although, some people believe in coincidences, these questions should be asked:

1. What groups are capable of these actions?
2. Is there any connection to the recent banning of “Mien Kempt”? What is the connection to the 64 random killings of minorities through out Russia and the growth of “right” wing elements?
3. What are the general attitudes towards minorities in Russia?
4. What are the public reactions to the arms reduction treaty? Russia has a history of “patriots” opposing cooperation with the west.
5. Is it possible that internal “right” wing elements are behind this?

These are the questions that need answers if we are serious about evaluating the recent bombing in Moscow.

Posted by: NewThoughts | March 30, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If Bush can determine the high jackers of the 911 bombers with in hours of the incident, why can't the russians. What is it that we think that our internal investigative capabilities are so much better than other countrys? Look at the Dubai murders, their video survielance was better than ours for the Craig's List Killer.

Posted by: aggiephysics | March 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

chechens smechens.

For all I know a currency trader with forward contracts on rubles, ran the operation.

But just like those rumored to have had advance knowledge of 9/11, supposedly made millions in options contracts from American Airlines stock, no one ever seems to do the follow through and sketch out the network with apparent advance knowledge of these bombings.


Posted by: lwfl | March 30, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

If Bush can determine the high jackers of the 911 bombers with in hours of the incident, why can't the russians.


You mean those pictures they put up on TV within hours of the 9/11 explosions were actual hijackers?

Wow, I must have missed that part of the story.

Posted by: lwfl | March 30, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

ChrisFord1- I re-read your troll on me and I find it amusing and absurd that you think people would stick around an airport or train platform after word gets out a bomb went off.

I bet the Moscow metro was nearly empty by evening of the day of the bombing and ridership was down by at least 50% the day after. Would you not be driving to work yourself after such events ?

BTW, don't ask me for examples whereby planning for multiple terrorist events saved lives. I don't do homework for bullies. And, hey, thanks for giving the bad guys more ideas too, {explicative}head.

Posted by: truthhurts | March 30, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The left wing wags always wants to rationalize away radical Islam by introducing Tim McVeigh!

Al Qaeda translated roughly means "The Base", and Bin Laden defined his mission as a distribution center for any and all terrorist groups who wanted to destroy Western Culture. He promotes the Chechen movements as well as Hamas, and Hezbollah! Bin Laden may well have supported McVeigh. After all the first WTC attack and the Oklahoma bombing were closely associated. A thought not many have looked at!

Posted by: jjcrocket1 | March 30, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

it would seem most likely that recent Moscow bombings were not result of involvement by Russian govt security services. however, a relatively recent bombing campaign in Russia about 7 yrs ago that killed more than 400 persons in apartment complexes bore many fingerprints as a government executed operation. and why so? to give russian government, under President Putin, a green light to more ruthlessly crush Chechen movement for national self determination independence). altho Chechen rebels are no angels, the Soviet Govt (under Stalin) did them terrible injustice (deportation of half a million Chechens to Soviet Central Asia in 1942-44 as alleged Nazi supporters); in the late 50s/early 60s Khrushchev tried to remedy injustice by allowing Chechens and other deported ethnic groups (Crimean Tatars; ethnic Germans; Poles) to return from internal exile, but Chechens still want their own internal self determination, if not total independence. remember Russian forces under Yeltin and then Putin leveled Chechen capital city of Grozny, population 500,000, to rubble, in the early to mid 1990s (91 to 96) in two wars.

Posted by: RoguesPalace | March 30, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't recall the exact source (maybe in Khrushchev Remembers, his 2 volume memoir), he writes that in addition to deporting various ethnic groups to Soviet central Asia (Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, etc) in 1942-44, including Chechens, Crimean Tatars, ethnic Germans, Poles, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, and others who lived on Soviet territory, Stalin also wanted to deport the Ukranians to Soviet central Asia. but he was not able to do so logistically, because there were not enough rail cars to deport 40,000,000 Ukranians a distance of 6,000 miles. but with the smaller ethnic groups, totalling perhaps several millions, they were deported, proabably 3 to 4 million over the course of 2 yrs. after Khruschev took over, these internally deported folks returned to their ancestral homelands, in 1957-64, often to find their homes occupied by new settlers (often Russian ethnics).. so the Chechen grudge is 60 years old and very strong. I am neither Chechen nor Muslim, just a Catholic boy who reads Russian and Soviet history.

Posted by: RoguesPalace | March 30, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Who the hell do you think bombed Moscow!!!???

Of course it was the miserable, low life, scum Chechen muslim pigs. I can't wait to see Putin blast the living daylights out of that craphole. Go Putin!!!

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | March 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Applebum is too busy boasting about her Polish "prime minister" husband. Nobody cares about her high society life in Poland.

Posted by: Mickey2 | March 30, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

What a croc.....this hyper-speculation is not news reporting....

Posted by: josephfranklyn | March 30, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, WHEW!
The 'superior' universal expert, Applebaum, has told the

Moscow Police how to (How they'd BETTER) handle the investigation. She who knows it all.

And the US investigation teams can learn here, too...SHE'D EXPECT NOTHING LESS!!!

freaky, freaky, freaky.

Posted by: whistling | March 30, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

is WPost censoring (removing) comments already posted which they see as politically unacceptable? sure looks like it....

Posted by: RoguesPalace | March 30, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The writer bring sup a very good point in her opening.

There is no reason the Russians should automatically blame the Chechans, more than likely it was those disgusting teabaggers practicing for their take over of America.

So, where just where was Rush Limbaugh, anyway? And Glenn Beck, can he account for the last 48 hours?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | March 30, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The writer is making the noise of a barking dog....nothing more.....

Posted by: josephfranklyn | March 30, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

In Russia, everybody carries identity documents all the time. It isn't like New Jersey, Ms. Applebaum. The separtists, you admire so much, are committed to the destruction of Russia herself and the extermination of ethnic Russians. They are radical Islamic fundamentalists. By the way, most Muslims are peaceful and content within Russia's borders. But these radicals are not and they are extremely dangerous. Please do not symphatize with terrorists and murderers.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | March 30, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

What if the occidental countries are paving the way to include Russia into a war against Iran?. A reliable way to convince Russia into participating in a future invasion into Iran is explode bombs in its territory and blame islam extremists. We all know of the excuses used in the past, mainly when invading Iraq. We have an idea what occidental countries are capable of, to gain control of the oil in the middle east. Russia on their side would be wonderful, and the invader block may become so powerful that the wars in the region would not be forever as in Iraq and Afganistan. Lets wait to see what the investigations reveal. For the record, Bush Claimed Hussein had atomic bombs; it was not true. Aznar blamed Eta for the attacks in Madrid; again it was not true, in fact it was Alqaeda. Yes, we live in a crazy world; with world leaders capable of anything.

Posted by: SISP | March 30, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Russian police know something we don't? Perhaps the Chechnyans have already taken responsibility for the bombings, but the Russian police haven't yet released that information to the public yet. Given the history of terrorism in Russia, it's a pretty good bet that that Chechnyans orchestrated this attack.

Posted by: liberalsareblind | March 30, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

chechen, muslim, al queda, potato, potato... distinctions without a difference

Either you believe that blowing people and things up is part of the solution, or you don't.

The rest is just details from history.

Posted by: lwfl | March 30, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

It certainly seems that Chechens are the logical suspects. At this point, it seems that Muslims think they can simultaneously defeat the US and Russia. It would serve them right if Putin comes down on them like a ton of bricks. Causing them sufficient pain right now could actually make the world more peaceful. Imagine what the response of either the US or the Russians would be to the use of nuclear weapons in one of our cities. I think any US president who refused to respond in kind would be replaced at the next election. The Muslims are playing with fire--like our good friends the Saudis with their international Salafist conspiracies. They should be careful or someday someone will come to office who will burn them down to the ground. It would serve them right if Putin made an example of their sorry asses.

Posted by: scientist1 | March 30, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

All bombing including bombing against Chechnya to Afganistan for last around 100 years or bombing against Iraq since 1914 or coming possible bombing against Iran are wrong.

So let us stop all bombing, killing and destruction.

Posted by: Caliph | March 30, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Conspiracy theories are the realm of the intellectually moribund Applebaum.

Posted by: Homunculus | March 30, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Anne, need more research before you reach any conclusions. Wish you had immediately commented similarly on George W. Bush's accusations, in absence of evidence, prior to Iraq war OR Clinton's wag the dog episodes.

Posted by: motichu | March 30, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

"We had explosions in NYC, and we looked the other way"

No there wasn't an no we did not. As always, some America-hating fanatic has to try and stink up the forum with their ridiculous conspiracy theories.

Posted by: RealChoices | March 31, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

It might and it might not have been Chechens who were responsible for these bombings. Whatever group is responsible for such tragedy has to be brought to justice and face harsh penalties. Even if these suicide bombers were Chechens, bombing a whole region and committing atrocities against civilians just because they share the same ethnicity as
these suicide bombers is not the answer. It has been done in the past for more than a decade, and transforming Northern Caucasus into a breeding ground for terrorists is what these two Chechen Wars have accomplished so far, at least made it worse. As for the apartment bombings in 1999, which triggered the second war, the circumstances were very strange and didn't seem to fit the pattern of terrorist attacks performed by Jihadists. The last apartment block bombing didn't happen because someone else saw a suspicious looking group that was later connected to the FSB. These subway bombings, however, were clearly carried out by Jihadists. Does that mean that every Muslim should pay for these bombings? No. Only this group has to be held responsible for such act. Hopefully the Russians have learned the lesson from the two Chechen Wars.

Posted by: mzm153 | March 31, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has said his group was behind Monday's double suicide bombings on the Moscow Metro.

Mrs. Applebaum, you are an idiot.

Posted by: DDF1 | March 31, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Russian have the right to respond as they like to respond.

U.S. has made a dirty crime - killed Sadaam Hussein and his children with false accusations.
U.S. should always be mindful of US crimes and be silent.

American propagandists must be silent and afraid ... Russia suddenly finds and proves U.S. funding.
Screech Doku Umarov advocated Georgian Caucasia propaganda center.
This center created on the US order with US money.
Russian law qualifies it as an Informational Support of Terrorism.
Now Russia has the right to start bombing of Tbilisi.
Maybe Russia should help the Iraqi patriots... or afgan patriots - kick to US ass...
Wants it?

Posted by: LuckyBarker | March 31, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse


the CHECHENS think they did it, their chief took responsibility for it today.

Though of course Applebaum, the princess of know it all, thinks she knows better.

Posted by: whistling | March 31, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company