Russia probes security lapse at Moscow airport
The Russian investigators of the explosion which killed 35 people and injured 180 at Moscow's main airport Monday, Jan. 24, are certain it was not carried out by a female but by a single male suicide bomber, 30-40 years old, heavily-built and most likely of European appearance. They hope to identify him and his accomplices. The explosive device contained from 5 to 7 kilos of TNT and was packed with cut metal wire, ball bearings and other pieces of shrapnel to maximize injuries.
The Russian government is as alarmed by the security lapse at Domodedov airport as the attack itself, debkafile counter-terror sources report. It has launched a criminal inquiry into the lapse which made it possible for the bomber to walk in from outside without being checked into the international terminal where arriving passengers are met and blow up his uncased charge. His three or more accomplices who witnessed the act were then able to leave the scene unchallenged and are now the targets of an extensive manhunt.
No group has thus far claimed the attack although it is generally attributed to radical Islamists from one of the Caucasian republics.
"You cannot be too soft with bandits," said President Dmitry Medvedev reprimanding senior Federal Security Service officials whom he met Tuesday for the lax security at Domodedov international airport. He demanded that proper baggage and passenger inspection and control measures be installed at Moscow's busiest showcase international airport, after citizens of at least six countries were injured or killed in the explosion.
Russia needs Israeli-style airport security, the president said. He blamed airport officials for "clear security breaches" and called for sackings if negligence was proved. Terrorism is the most serious threat facing Russian today, said Medvedev.
Several security sources admitted that the special services had received a tip-off that a terrorist attack was about to take place a week in advance. Even the place was named.
Moscow is under extreme pressure to prove Russia and travel to and from the country are safe enough for two major sporting events scheduled to take place there: the 2014 WinterOlympics at Sochi in the volatile North Caucasus and the 2018 World Football Cup.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has cancelled his trip to the economic forum at Davos to deal with the emergency after placing all three Moscow airports and underground hubs on high security alert.
The last terrorist attack in Moscow was staged in March 2010 by two women from Dagestan, who blew themselves up at two underground stations in the Russian capital, killing 40 people. Until the Domededov explosion, the attacks were usually directed at domestic targets.
At around about the same time, in London, an Etihad airliner from Abu Dhabi was diverted from Heathrow to Stansted airport, flying in with two RAF fighter jets after an incident aboard. The pilot was alarmed enough by the threatening behavior of a British man to radio for a fighter escort. The man was taken into custody.