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Who Was Behind The Grozny Suicide Bombing?

The site of the deadly suicide bomb attack in Grozny on October 5.
The site of the deadly suicide bomb attack in Grozny on October 5.

A young man blew himself up late on October 5 in the center of Grozny, killing himself and four police officers and injuring a further 12 people. He has been identified as Opti Mudarov, 19, who reportedly disappeared without a trace two months ago from his home in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district.

According to Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, the suicide bomber, holding a pistol, approached a police post near the entrance to a theater where a concert was scheduled to begin as part of the celebrations for Grozny Day (marked on October 5, coinciding with Kadyrov’s birthday). When the police officers asked for his identity documents, he blew himself up.

Predictably, Kadyrov blamed the incident on the North Caucasus insurgency, which is plausible given that the bomber deliberately sought to kill the maximum number of police officers. It was Aslan Byutukayev (Amir Khamzat), head of the Chechen insurgency wing, who served as mentor to Magomed Yevloyev, the young Ingush man who blew himself up at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January 2011, killing at least 37 people.

On the other hand, Aliaskhab Kebekov (aka Amir Ali Abu-Mohammad), the Avar theologian who succeeded Doku Umarov as head of the Caucasus Emirate, has recently come out against suicide bombings as a tactic. And Byutukayev has pledged allegiance (together with seven fellow Chechen commanders) to Kebekov and is thus constrained to comply with his orders.

Assuming that Byutukayev did not deliberately defy Kebekov’s stated disapproval of suicide bombings, two possible explanations suggest themselves.

First, that Mudarov was acting of his own volition. In which case, the questions arise: Where did he get access to explosives? And what was his motivation? Was he one of the dozens of young believers rounded up and roughed up by Kadyrov’s security police since the start of the year on suspicion of preferring Salafism to Kadyrov’s reinvention of Chechen Sufism?

And second, that he was the unwitting victim of a false-flag recruitment by someone out to spoil Kadyrov’s birthday.

The insurgency website reported the suicide bombing just hours after it occurred, citing eyewitness reports suggesting that the death toll may be higher than officially stated but has not yet posted any claim of responsibility.

-- Liz Fuller

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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