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Rebel Leader Renounces Female Suicide Bombings

Published: July 1, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • Female suicide bombings have become a trademark war tactic of the North Caucasus Islamist insurgents, with sensationalist media quickly dubbing the female attackers black widows.
    Photo: Sergei Porter / Vedomosti

In an unexpected departure from one of the most dreaded terrorist strategies, a leader of the North Caucasus Islamist rebels has called on his followers to put an end to female suicide bombings that have claimed hundreds of civilian lives, including in Moscow.

"We categorically ban our sisters from doing this," Aliaskhab Kebekov, known under the alias of Ali Abu Muhammad, emir of the Caucasus Emirate group, said in a lengthy interview with the rebel website Kavkaz Center posted on YouTube on Saturday.

"We monitor how jihad is practiced in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Mali, and there was not a single case [of a female suicide bombing] there. Women there are not allowed to do this," he said. "My order to brothers is not to use sisters for this."

Female suicide bombings have become a trademark war tactic of the North Caucasus Islamist insurgents, with sensationalist media quickly dubbing the female attackers "black widows."

Since June 2000, when the first such bombing happened in Chechnya, women have been involved in 24 more terrorist attacks, both alone and as part of groups. According to The St. Petersburg Times' count, these attacks have claimed a total of 847 lives, averaging 61 deaths a year.

Eight of those attacks took place in Moscow, including the 2002 Dubrovka theater hostage-taking in which 19 female suicide bombers from Chechnya took part, and more recently, the 2010 twin metro bombings by two women from Dagestan.

There has been a visible shift in the origin of these attacks over the years. In the vast majority of cases from 2000 to September 2004, when two female suicide bombers took part in the attack on a packed school in the town of Beslan, they hailed from Chechnya, which has fought two separatist wars with Moscow. Following a lull in attacks after Beslan, from 2010 to the latest female suicide bombing of a bus in Volgograd in October 2013, most of the bombers came from the neighboring Russian Muslim-populated province of Dagestan where Islamist radicals have been waging a low-intensity deadly campaign against local security and law enforcement officials for nearly two decades.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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