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Russian Analysts Concerned By Growing Terrorism In North Caucasus

Russian analysts say the recent arrest of eight suspected terrorists in Daghestan shows the depth of the problem Moscow has with terrorist groups in the area, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Russia's National Terrorism Committee (NAK) arrested six women and two men on July 12 on suspicion of plans to commit a terrorist act.

Four of the six women, all of whom are aged 15-29 years, were said to be the widows of Islamic militant fighters. Two of them reportedly had previous convictions for illegal possession of weapons.

NAK officials announced that during their search of the home where they found the women they confiscated "two semiautomatic weapons, two belts they suspect could be used by suicide-bombers, various materials used to create disguises, jihadist literature, and a notebook filled with license-plate numbers of police cars."

They also confiscated farewell letters written to the suspects' families in which they urge their "sisters" to follow "their path."

Zaur Gaziev, the head of the human rights center Memorial, told RFE/RL she is not sure these women are guilty of planning a terrorist act. However, she said the main question is not about guilt but about why these people are joining terrorist groups.

Political scientist Ruslan Martagov agreed, saying that the war against terrorism in Russia can only be fought in an open society.

"If I'm not satisfied with the government, I shouldn't have to go into the woods and become a suicide bomber -- [in an open society] there is a free press, an independent judicial system, a multiparty system," Martagov told RFE/RL. "A society that lacks these gives birth to terrorists."

Andrei Soldatov, the chief editor of, argued that the arrests do not show an improved capability of the Russian special forces in the volatile North Caucasus region.

"In Daghestan everyone knows quite well in which areas the 'worshippers' reign supreme," he told RFE/RL. "And this has become such a general picture that in the end there is room for Russian special forces to fish out a few people connected to fundamentalists."

The NAK claims that one of the two men detained on July 12 escorted the two women suicide bombers who blew themselves up in the Moscow subway on March 29, killing 40 people.