Latest Developments in the Terrorist Attack in Volgograd

November 12, 2013

On October 21, a bus bombing killed six people in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. The perpetrator of the crime was, according to Russian authorities, Naida Asiyalova, wife of 22 year old Dmitry Sokolov, a known Dagestani militant and bomb maker. This incident was the latest chapter in what is essentially an insurgency moving at a near-glacial pace. Initially, many Russian thinkers could not help but see a connection between the bombing and the escalating ethnic tensions in Russia, but the reality is that the motives for the attack are unclear.

On October 21st, there were several peculiarities with the initial reporting of the incident. Russian authorities released very detailed information extremely quickly. They were able to identify the attacker, and release a significant amount of biographical information on the suspect. This raised many eyebrows, and many began to question whether the official story was too convenient. One expert suggested, however, that the Russian authorities are extremely well equipped to analyze a scene of a crime, had probably been tracking the suspect for some time, and so had a significant amounts of information at their disposal.

One detail, however, made no sense to us. Soon after the explosion, a picture of the suspect’s passport, completely intact, was released to the public via the Russian press in which the suspect wore a hijab. Authorities later released a picture of her passport, heavily damaged from the explosion and with no hijab. Authorities now say that the initial picture was a fake, made in Photoshop by unknown persons. However, our analysis of the passport suggests that both pictures of the passport most likely show the exact same document. As such, no explanation is adequately convincing, and the mystery remains. – Ed.

Mikhail Murzaev, the Head of the Regional Department of the Investigative Committee (IC) of the Russian Federation spoke about the investigation into the October 21 bus bombing that killed six residents of Volgograd. Investigators have established that Naida Asiyalova, the suicide bomber, and her accomplices had been preparing for the terrorist attack since September 10. Investigators questioned more than 150 witnesses; the entire route of the bomber was reconstructed with detailed precision. It was established that the bomber’s passport previously shown by many media outlets, in which she was photographed wearing а hijab, was fake, “made in photoshop.” But the information that Asiyalova suffered from several serious diseases has been confirmed.

In the North Caucasus, operational procedures continue to identify the accomplices of the suicide bomber and the organizers of the terrorist attack.

Asiyalova set off the explosive herself. At the scene of the tragedy experts did not find either any fragments of the terrorist’s cell phone, or any other radio devices that could be used to detonate a bomb remotely. The investigation also states that Asiyalova did not have any accomplices in Volgograd. However, she deliberately went to Volgograd. “The suicide bomber got on the bus at the bus station in Makhachkala, paid for a ticket only to Volgograd, sat alone and occupied two seats. On the way there she did not communicate with anyone, did not come out at bus stops and well in advance asked the driver to let her out near the Ministry of Internal Affairs Academy in Volgograd,” said Mikhail Muzraev.

The investigation revealed that Asiyalova had brought to Volgograd and detonated an explosive device in a passenger bus in Kraskoarmeysky district. Now at the FSB Research Institute in Moscow they are analyzing the forensics of the explosion, but it’s been already established that the explosive yield of the device was 500-600 grams of TNT, and it was packed with metal shrapnel.

Let’s recall that the bomb went off on a number 29 public bus in the Kraskoarmeysky district of Volgograd at around 14:00 on October 21. Six passengers and the terrorist herself died, more than 50 people were injured. Currently, there are 14 injured in hospital.

Investigators believe that the preparation for the terrorist attack began on September 10. Since that time, Asiyalova “stopped communicating with anyone.” Mikhail Muzraev said that four employees of the Volgograd Department of the IC returned from a trip to the Republic of Dagestan, where they found and questioned some people close to Asiyalova.

Asiyalova’s domestic partner Dmitry Sokolov, aka Abdul Jabbar, who is suspected to be a member of the Makhachkala gang, officially remains missing. At the same time, he is on the wanted list on suspicion of terrorist activity.

Mikhail Muzraev also stated that the information that Asiyalova suffered from several serious diseases, including pancreatic, breast and bone cancer, had been confirmed.

The head of the regional investigation department noted, that at the scene only one official document of the terrorist was discovered – a passport, that was thrown out by a blast wave together with parts of her body and her bag. “The passport of the suicide bomber, that was shown on October 21, 2013 by almost all media outlets in which she is allegedly photographed wearing a hijab, is the result of using Photoshop,” said Mr. Muzraev, noting that so far it is unknown “by whom and for what purpose it was done.”